Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver Valtteri Bottas topped the times to take his first ever pole position in qualifying, and the first Mercedes one-two of 2017, ahead of Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Finn out did team-mate Lewis Hamilton by just three hundredths of a second, as both drivers had a messy final lap, and Scuderia Ferrari failed to rival the pace of the German team.
Bottas, who becomes the fifth Finn in F1 history to take pole position, set a time of 1:28.769 on a set of the super-soft tyres, in what was a battle of the team-mates, with no one else able to find the pace to compete with the two silver arrows drivers.
Sebastian Vettel took third, five tenths slower than the Finn’s lead time, ahead of Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo, the Milton Keynes based squad looking more in the mix here in Bahrain, than they did in China.
Kimi Raikkonen was fifth, having complained of struggling with understeer for the majority of the session, ahead of the second Red Bull of Max Verstappen, who had topped the times in FP3, but was nine tenths off the pace of pole man Bottas during qualifying.
Renault Sport Formula 1 Team driver Nico Hulkenberg was a brilliant seventh, having found some good pace since the final practice session of the weekend, and looking good for a strong points haul in Sunday’s race.
Williams Martini Racing driver Felipe Massa was eighth for the British squad, ahead of Haas F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean in ninth, despite the Frenchman experiencing his usual struggles with the handling of the VF17 throughout the earlier practice sessions.
Renault driver Jolyon Palmer put in a stellar final run in Q2 to make it through to the final shoot out, and end qualifying in tenth place, and making it two Renault’s into the top ten for the first time this season.
Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat was eleventh fastest, missing out on getting through to Q3 by just two hundredths of a second, having made a mistake on his final lap and run wide at the final corner.
Lance Stroll finished twelfth fastest, having done well to save a big moment at the exit of turn seven in Q1, as the FW40 snapped about underneath him. The Canadian’s FW40 was up on the jacks in the garage for the majority of Q2 however, but having used two sets of super-soft tyres in Q1, the 18-year-old only had enough new tyres left for just one flying run in Q2 anyway.
Sauber F1 Team driver Pascal Wehrlein, back in the car for his first qualifying session of 2017 having sat out the first two races of the season whilst he recovered from injury, was thirteenth fastest, in what was a strong session for the German, who also went well at the Sakhir Circuit last year.
Sahara Force India F1 Team driver Esteban Ocon was fourteenth, having experienced problems with DRS early on in the session, he was still able to come out on top in the battle of the team-mates.
McLaren-Honda F1 Team driver Fernando Alonso finished the session in fifteen place, however, having done well to get through to Q2, the Spaniard set no time in that segment, ditching his helmet early and confirming he would be needing a new power unit for tomorrow’s race.
Carlos Sainz Jr, stopped on track having reported no power to the STR13 with just moments of the Q1 segment remaining, having had the fastest first sector of all prior to the stoppage, seeing the Spaniard miss out on going through to Q2, and capping off a frustrating weekend for the Toro Rosso driver.
Stoffel Vandoorne, who made his F1 debut at the Bahrain Grand Prix last year and was able to score a point, was seventeenth and missed out on getting through to Q2 by two tenths of a second, having reported issues with his brakes prior to his final run.
Sergio Perez was a surprising eighteenth fastest and four places down on team-mate Ocon, having looked off the pace all weekend. The Mexican was just two tenths up on Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson, who ended the session in nineteenth place, just ahead of Haas driver Kevin Magnussen who brought up the rear of the grid.
Mercedes were on another level in terms of one lap pace today, and ominously for the other teams, also look to have strong long run pace. That is good news for silver arrows fans, however Ferrari will be looking to cause an upset, and will most likely be counting on their solid race pace to bring them into contention on Sunday.
2017 Bahrain Grand Prix – Qualifying Results
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