Bottas grabs close Sakhir pole ahead of Russell and Verstappen

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Sakhir, Bahrain International Circuitbh

Valtteri Bottas did what was expected by taking pole for the Sakhir Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver faced tough competition on the high-speed Bahrain configuration, with Russel and Verstappen less than a tenth behind.

While most drivers opted to start the session on soft tyres, both Mercedes, as well as both Alpha Tauris first completed at least 5 laps on the mediums. Carlos Sainz even chose for the hard tyres, doing three laps before returning to the pits to switch to softs.

Verstappen rapidly emerged on top of the timing sheet, ahead of Perez. They proved the fastest

4 minutes from the end, Bottas improved Verstappen's time when he did a lap on softs, followed by Russel going third fastest. Together, they beat Norris and Gasly, followed by Leclerc and the Ferrari duo.

There wasn't the last second battle this time, with most drivers already returning to the pits when the clock hit zero. It meant that Albon, despite anxiously looking at the timing screen from within the pitlane, got through with his 15th best time, while Magnussen, both Williams, Raikkonen and Fittipaldi were out for Q2.

Q2 was kicked off by Sainz who seemed eager to get a lap on softs in as soon as possible. This time, even more drivers chose to to go out on medium tyres. Bottas was immediately fastest, a tiny few hundredths faster than teammate George Russel. Verstappen ended up at 2 tenths while Albon was another 2 hundredths slower, despite choosing for the soft tyres.

Renault and Ferrrari also set times on mediums, but the four of them ended up between positions 9 and 13; hardly certainties for progressing into Q3.

At Racing Point, both drivers were put on softs, and they immediately proved competitive. Stroll was 5th fastest and Perez went fastest of all, 0.016 faster than Valtteri Bottas on the medium tyres.

Both Ferraris then came back out with a new set of medium tyres. Vettel didn't make any progress on them, but Leclerc moved up into 6th.

The closing minute of the session saw many switch to soft tyres, including both Renaults. For Ocon, it didn't prove enough, as he got eliminated along with Albon, Vettel, Giovinazzi and Norris. Verstappen did improve on the softs and set the fastest time, a tenth quicker than Perez.

The first laps in Q3 immediately sprung an interesting surprise as well as Verstappen emerged fastest, just 0.022s faster than Leclerc. Bottas and Russell stranded at third and fourth, though both Mercedes did their laps on used softs. Ricciardo on new softs was 5th, followed by Sainz on used softs and Gasly on new mediums.

Both Mercedes then made use of a quiet moment on track to both go out on new softs. Unsurprisingly, they both improved while everybody else looked on from the pitlane. Bottas went fastest in 0:53.377, 0.142s faster than Russell and 0.214s faster than Verstappen.

Leclerc by then was already out of the car, sticking with that single flying lap in Q3. Bottas didn't improve, but Russell and Verstappen did, although neither of them improved their grid positions, securing Bottas of pole position.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarQ1Q2Q3Laps
177Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG53.90453.80353.37724
263George RussellMercedes AMG54.16053.81953.40325
333Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda54.03753.64753.43317
416Charles LeclercFerrari54.24953.82553.61321
511Sergio PerezRacing Point BWT Mercedes54.23653.78753.79017
626Daniil KvyatAlphaTauri Honda54.34653.85653.90626
73Daniel RicciardoRenault54.38853.87153.95715
855Carlos SainzMcLaren Renault54.45053.81854.01020
910Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri Honda54.20753.94154.15428
1018Lance StrollRacing Point BWT Mercedes54.59553.84054.20019
1131Esteban OconRenault54.30953.995-13
1223Alexander AlbonRed Bull Racing Honda54.62054.026-12
135Sebastian VettelFerrari54.30154.175-17
1499Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari54.52354.377-14
154Lando NorrisMcLaren Renault54.19454.693-15
1620Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari54.705--9
176Nicholas LatifiWilliams Mercedes54.796--11
1889Jack AitkenWilliams Mercedes54.892--9
197Kimi RäikkönenAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari54.963--11
2051Pietro FittipaldiHaas Ferrari55.426--11

Note - Fittipaldi required to start from back of grid for use of additional power unit elements.