Valtteri Bottas Claims First F1 Pole Position for Bahrain Grand Prix

Following qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix, Chris Soulsby looks at Valtteri Bottas' first pole position of his Formula 1 career.

After the field looked close in first, second, and third practice of the Bahrain Grand Prix, Valtteri Bottas claimed his first Formula 1 pole position of his career in qualifying at the Bahrain International Circuit. Lewis Hamilton qualified in second place, while Sebastian Vettel qualified in third place for Ferrari.

Valtteri Bottas Claims First F1 Pole Position for Bahrain Grand Prix

Qualifying 1

Lewis Hamilton topped the time sheets for Mercedes in Qualifying 1, followed by Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen. Q1 marked the relegation of five drivers from qualifying, with a number of drivers being out of position. One such driver was Carlos Sainz Jr who qualified in 16th place after breaking down in sector 3 during his final qualifying run. Sainz was fastest in the first sector of his final run and was in shape to progress to Q2, with his lap time (if completed), potentially putting him in around eighth place. Stoffel Vandoorne was also knocked out in 17th place for McLaren, marking the driver’s third Q1 relegation in a row. The biggest surprise of the session was Sergio Perez, who qualified in 18th place for Force India on a track that the team usually do well on. Marcus Ericsson qualified in 19th place for Sauber, and will be joined on the last row of the grid by Kevin Magnussen who was slowest for the Haas F1 Team.

Qualifying 2

Lewis Hamilton topped the second qualifying session in Bahrain, followed very closely by Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel in second and third. Another five drivers were relegated in Q2, leaving only ten drivers left to compete in the top ten shootout. Daniil Kvyat narrowly missed out on a Q3 appearance, being 11th fastest after running wide in the final corner of his final lap. Lance Stroll was also eliminated from the session and will start the race in 12th place for Williams, completing only one lap in the session. Pascal Wehrlein ended the session in 13th fastest, making him the fastest Sauber driver of the day. Esteban Ocon was also eliminated from the session, qualifying in 14th place in the second Force India. Rounding out the session was Fernando Alonso, who failed to complete a lap in the session after having problems with his Honda power unit, meaning that he will start the Bahrain Grand Prix in 15th place.

The session also marked the two Renault cars getting into Q3, marking the team’s first double Q3 appearance since the 2011 Japanese Grand Prix.

Qualifying 3

For the final session of qualifying, ten cars went out on track to set their fastest laps in a battle for pole position. Valtteri Bottas set the early pace in the session with his first lap, however, was beaten initially by Lewis Hamilton. In the second run Bottas improved by a small margin, which once again placed him in first. In his second run, Hamilton was slower in sector two, which meant that he was unable to beat his team mate’s best lap of the session which means that Bottas will start on pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix. After all of the cars crossed the line, Lewis Hamilton was second fastest, making it a Mercedes front row lock out. Sebastian Vettel was third fastest for Ferrari and was unable to match the pace that he had in first and second practice. Daniel Ricciardo qualified in fourth place for Red Bull Racing, splitting the two Ferrari drivers with Kimi Raikkonen qualifying in fifth place. Max Verstappen will start the Bahrain Grand Prix in sixth place ahead of Nico Hulkenberg who qualified in seventh place for Renault. Felipe Massa ended the session in eighth fastest for Williams with Romain Grsoejan ending the session in ninth place for Haas F1. Jolyon Palmer rounded out the session in tenth place, marking his first F1 appearance in Q3.

With the margin between Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton being very close in qualifying, the race for the Bahrain Grand Prix is looking like a very close affair, with only a few hundredths of a second separating the two Mercedes drivers. It will also be interesting to see if Ferrari can get involved in the battle for the win, with Vettel being almost 0.5 seconds slower than the pole time. If the Formula 2 Feature Race is anything to go by, the Bahrain Grand Prix should be influenced heavily by strategy and tyre wear, and like Australia and China, it will be intriguing to see how the race will unfold.

Qualifying Results for the Bahrain Grand Prix:

  1. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 1:28.769
  2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:29.792
  3. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:29.247
  4. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing, 1:29.545
  5. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:29.567
  6. Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1:29.687
  7. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, 1:29.842
  8. Felipe Massa, Williams, 1:30.074
  9. Romain Grosjean, Haas F1, 1:30.763
  10. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 1:31.074
  11. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 1:30.923 (Q2)
  12. Lance Stroll, Williams, 1:31.168 (Q2)
  13. Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber, 1:31.414 (Q2)
  14. Esteban Ocon, Force India, 1:31.684 (Q2)
  15. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, No time (Q2)
  16. Carlos Sainz Jr, Toro Rosso, 1:32.118 (Q1)
  17. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, 1:32.313 (Q1)
  18. Sergio Perez, Force India, 1:32.318 (Q1)
  19. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:32.543 (Q1)
  20. Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1, 1:32.900 (Q1)

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