Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas clinched pole position for 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix ahead of George Russell and Max Verstappen after a packed Saturday at Bahrain International Circuit.
Bottas headed into Qualifying without having topped any Practice session after Verstappen topped FP3 but in a frantic Qualifying which saw everyone miraculously avoid tripping over one another, Bottas found enough to claim his 16th pole in F1.
Now here is a full roundup of Saturday’s F1 action across FP3 and Qualifying.
In a quiet start to FP3, Haas’ Pietro Fittipaldi was the only driver on track and set a benchmark on softs of 56.249 which was soon bettered by Lando Norris, Daniel Ricciardo then Charles Leclerc with 55.253.
Bottas soon afterwards went top as Verstappen spun on the exit of Turn One into Turn Two as he tried to put on the power just too early, just before Russell went fastest with 55.000 which was quickly bettered by Bottas with a 54.880 then 54.523 to go even faster.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was 17th after the opening runs so opted to go early on his qualifying simulation which propelled him up to second, before he eventually tumbled to 15th at the flag.
Bottas posted a 54.270 on his qualifying simulation whilst Russell was 0.394 seconds slower than his teammate on his attempt before Verstappen set a session topping 54.064 as Pierre Gasly went third ahead of Esteban Ocon and Norris.
Alex Albon ran his quali simulation on medium tyres which left the Thai sixth fastest ahead of Russell as Racing Point’s Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll finished eighth and ninth quickest, with Carlos Sainz rounding out the top ten.
Haas sent Kevin Magnussen and Pietro Fittipaldi on track immediately whilst others slowly following suit as Bottas set the early pace on a 54.607, which was instantly bettered by Perez with a 54.287.
Verstappen then went quickest and with four minutes left, the elimination zone contained; Nicholas Latifi, Gasly, Kimi Raikkonen, Antonio Giovinazzi and Fittipaldi, who was starting last anyway after a change of components.
Several drivers opted for final runs where time was found with Gasly and Giovinazzi escaping the drop as Magnussen missed out on Q2 by 0.085s as Alex Albon scraped through, with Latifi, Jack Aitken, Raikkonen and Fittipaldi also exiting at the first stage of Qualifying.
Sainz was first out on track but his benchmark time of 54.514 was bettered by Leclerc before Gasly posted a 54.130 which was deleted for exceeding track limits.
Bottas soon afterwards went fastest from Russell with a 53.803 on mediums ahead of Verstappen and Kvyat before Perez produced a stunning 53.787 ahead of Ferrari’s early final runs as Leclerc went sixth whilst Vettel aborted his lap and was eliminated in 13th.
Ocon, Gasly, Norris and Giovinazzi were also in the drop zone ahead of their final runs of which only Gasly escaped but Ocon outqualified Albon in a surprise Q2 exit for the Red Bull, whilst Giovinazzi outqualified Norris in 14th.
Verstappen topped the session with a 53.647 which was 0.140s quicker than Perez’s effort.
Mercedes opted to do a three soft tyre run beginning with a set of used softs which left Bottas in third and Russell sat fifth with Perez in-between the Silver Arrows, whilst Verstappen set the pace with 53.591 ahead of Leclerc.
Bottas plus Russell then ran in the gap which allowed Bottas to set a pole time of 53.377 whilst Russell needed his third run to put him second on the grid and 0.026s off his experienced new teammate but crucially 0.030s ahead of Verstappen in third despite losing a qualifying head-to-head for the first time ever in F1.
Leclerc didn’t partake in the final runs but qualified fourth ahead of Perez, Kvyat, Ricciardo, Sainz, Gasly and Stroll.
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||54.064|
|2||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+ 0.206|
|3||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||+ 0.363|
|4||Esteban Ocon||Renault||+ 0.389|
|5||Lando Norris||McLaren||+ 0.542|
|6||Alex Albon||Red Bull||+ 0.565|
|7||George Russell||Mercedes||+ 0.600|
|8||Sergio Perez||Racing Point||+ 0.614|
|9||Lance Stroll||Racing Point||+ 0.629|
|10||Carlos Sainz||McLaren||+ 0.656|
|11||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+ 0.781|
|12||Daniil Kvyat||AlphaTauri||+ 0.786|
|13||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+ 0.790|
|14||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||+ 0.793|
|15||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||+ 0.794|
|16||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+ 1.107|
|17||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||+ 1.283|
|18||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+ 1.429|
|19||Pietro Fittipaldi||Haas||+ 1.602|
|20||Jack Aitken||Williams||+ 1.606|
|2||George Russell||Mercedes||+ 0.026|
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+ 0.056|
|4||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+ 0.236|
|5||Sergio Perez||Racing Point||+ 0.413|
|6||Daniil Kvyat||AlphaTauri||+ 0.529|
|7||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||+ 0.580|
|8||Carlos Sainz||McLaren||+ 0.633|
|9||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||+ 0.777|
|10||Lance Stroll||Racing Point||+ 0.823|
|12||Alex Albon||Red Bull||+ 0.031|
|13||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||+ 0.180|
|14||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+ 0.382|
|15||Lando Norris||McLaren||+ 0.698|
|17||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+ 0.091|
|18||Jack Aitken||Williams||+ 0.187|
|19||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+ 0.258|
|20||Pietro Fittipaldi||Haas||+ 0.721|