Lewis Hamilton beat team-mate Valtteri Bottas by almost three tenths of a second to claim the 98th pole position of his career as Mercedes locked out the front row for tomorrow’s Bahrain Grand Prix. Max Verstappen will line up third beside team-mate Alex Albon in an all-Red Bull second row.
Verstappen was the first to set a timed lap in Q, with the Dutchman setting an early benchmark of 1:28.885. The sparked the rest of the pit lane into life and the entire field soon took to the track.
Hamilton quickly moved ahead of the Red Bull man, with the Mercedes driver setting a new P1 time of 1:28.343. His team-mate Valtteri Bottas then took P2.
Further down the order, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc hovered close to the danger zone as the final runs began, with the Monegasque drive in P15, ahead of Russell. There were substantial improvements throughout in the final runs, however, and after jumping to P6 with his lap of 1:29.137 he eventually made it through to Q2 in P9 as better times came in.
The best of those improvements came from Racing Point’s Lance Stroll who claimed P2 three tenths of a second behind Hamilton. Albon too made a step forward, taking P3 behind the Canadian with a lap of 1:28.732. Verstappen, though, chose to stay in the garage for the final runs and he progressed to Q2 in P5 behind Bottas.
However, there was no progress for Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi who finished in P16 ahead of fellow Q1 drop outs Kimi Räikkönen in the second Alfa, the Haas cars of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean and the Williams of Nicholas Latifi.
In Q2, the bulk of the remaining drivers went out on track on medium tires, through the notable exceptions were the AlphaTauri drivers who stuck with the red-banded soft tires for their first run.
The initial runs were all scrapped, however, when Carlos Sainz spun and stopped at the edge of the track in Turn 1. The McLaren driver looked in control as he started his flying lap but his right rear wheel locked unexpectedly on entry to the corner and after saying he had “no drive” he was left stranded on the kerb. His team later attributed the incident to brake failure.
Sainz’s issue brought out the red flags as the car was recovered and when the session started again there were just nine minutes left on the clock. Verstappen and Albon were quickly on track and the Dutchman went quickest with a lap of 1:28.025. Hamilton, though, was quicker and the Mercedes driver set a time of 1:27.586. Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo went through in fourth place ahead of Albon, with Norris sixth for McLaren ahead of Racing Point’s Sergio Perez, the second Renault of Esteban Ocon and the twin AlphaTauri cars of Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly who took fresh medium tires for their final efforts in the segment. Eliminated were 11th Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari team-mate Leclerc, Stroll, Russell and Sainz.
In the first runs of Q3 it looked like Verstappen might challenge for pole position when his opening lap of 1:27.83 split the Mercedes and left him just 0.146s behind Hamilton and a tenth clear of Bottas. However, all three drivers improved on their final run with Hamilton taking pole ahead of Bottas who managed to edge Verstappen by just over a tenth of a second.
Albon, meanwhile, found himself in P7 after the first runs but he made big gains on his final run to rise to fourth alongside Verstappen. Behind him Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez took fifth ahead of the Renault’s of Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon. Eighth place went to AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, with McLaren’s Lando Norris ninth ahead of the second AlphaTauri of Daniil Kvyat.
2020 FIA Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix – Qualifying
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:27.264 6 223.267
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:27.553 0.289 6 222.530
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1:27.678 0.414 6 222.213
4 Alexander Albon Red Bull/Honda 1:28.274 1.010 6 220.712
5 Sergio Pérez Racing Point/Mercedes 1:28.322 1.058 6 220.592
6 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:28.417 1.153 6 220.355
7 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:28.419 1.155 6 220.350
8 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 1:28.448 1.184 6 220.278
9 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 1:28.542 1.278 6 220.044
10 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri/Honda 1:28.618 1.354 6 219.856
11 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:29.149 1.563 5 218.546
12 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:29.165 1.579 5 218.507
13 Lance Stroll Racing Point/Mercedes 1:29.557 1.971 5 217.550
14 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1:31.218 3.632 3 213.589
– Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren/Renault 2
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:29.491 1.148 6 217.711
17 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:29.810 1.467 6 216.937
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1:30.111 1.768 6 216.213
19 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1:30.138 1.795 6 216.148
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 1:30.182 1.839 6 216.043