Hamilton gets 98th pole as Bottas makes it a Mercedes front row at Bahrain

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Bahrain, Bahrain International Circuitbh

Lewis Hamilton improved Bahrain's track record to take pole position for Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix. Valtteri Bottas managed to secure second and make it a full Mercedes front row, thanks to a last-minute improvement to beat Verstappen.

George Russell kicked off qualifying action at Bahrain as he went out as soon as the session started. After a slow warm-up lap, he looked set for a reasonable time, but he surprisingly returned to the pits.

It was quiet for the next few minutes until Verstappen took the track and put in a decent benchmark time, still beaten by both Mercedes about a minute after that.

Meanwhile, as the clock ticked, and drivers were trying to complete slow warm-up laps to not damage the tyres before the flying laps, several were complaining of traffic.

Track conditions clearly improved during the session, proven by Russell who moved up into 8th in the closing stages. Many others improved as well, including better laps for both Ferraris after they were a bit in the danger zone after their initial attempts. Russell's lap was particularly impressive as it made him progress through into Q2 while Latifi ended up eliminated in 20th.

The start of Q2 was very contrasting, with lots of drivers eager to go out immediately. Most of them opted to use the medium compound tyres and only the Alpha Tauri cars came out on track with the softs.

The fun was over soon though, especially for Carlos Sainz, as the rear axle of his McLaren locked up under braking for Turn 1, leaving him stuck on the track. As clearance required assistance from the marshalls, the session was briefly red-flagged, much to Ricciardo's disappointment as he was just about to complete his flying lap.

When the session restarted, both Red Bulls and Norris were out first. Verstappen was fastest, and Albon 7 tenths down while again going extremely wide on the exit of the final corner, the same spot where he crashed off heavily in Friday's free practice.

Hamilton easily surpassed Verstappen's lap a minute later while Bottas slotted in just behind. Daniel Ricciardo posted the 4th fastest time with Perez also comfortably securing a place in Q3.

His teammate at Racing Point, Lance Stroll, failed to do so and ended up 13th, blaming a miscommunication. Both Ferraris were also out, having been on the front row last time out at Bahrain.

The first runs in Q3 showed similar performance levels at the front, albeit with smaller margins. Hamilton had the best first outing, but he was only 0.146s faster than Verstappen, and 0.244s ahead of Bottas. Perez was fourth fastest but already at 8 tenths. Daniel Ricciardo was slowest and 1.9s down in his first lap which he completed on used soft tyres.

In the second lap, Hamilton crossed the line first and shaved another 3 tenths off his previous time, setting another new lap record. Bottas followed up and moved up into second place as Verstappen failed to improve enough to stay second. The Dutchman didn't prove too disappointed, but instead fairly happy to be able to start Sunday's race on the clean side of the track.

Albon improved well on his second outing to take 4th, topping Perez and Ricciardo who will be taking positions on the third row on the grid.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarQ1Q2Q3Laps
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:28.3431:27.5861:27.26416
277Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG1:28.7671:28.0631:27.55316
333Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda1:28.8851:28.0251:27.67815
423Alexander AlbonRed Bull Racing Honda1:28.7321:28.7491:28.27418
511Sergio PerezRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:29.1781:28.8941:28.32220
63Daniel RicciardoRenault1:29.0051:28.6481:28.41717
731Esteban OconRenault1:29.2031:28.9371:28.41914
810Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri Honda1:28.9711:29.0081:28.44814
94Lando NorrisMcLaren Renault1:29.4641:28.8771:28.54217
1026Daniil KvyatAlphaTauri Honda1:29.1581:28.9441:28.61817
115Sebastian VettelFerrari1:29.1421:29.149-11
1216Charles LeclercFerrari1:29.1371:29.165-11
1318Lance StrollRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:28.6791:29.557-11
1463George RussellWilliams Mercedes1:29.2941:31.218-11
1555Carlos SainzMcLaren Renault1:28.975DNF-5
1699Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:29.491--6
177Kimi RäikkönenAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:29.810--6
1820Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:30.111--6
198Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari1:30.138--6
206Nicholas LatifiWilliams Mercedes1:30.182--6