Bottas earns his first pole position for Mercedes

Valtteri Bottas claimed his first Formula 1 pole position by edging out his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton in a tight Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying duel.

Hamilton had taken P1 in the past two races this season and led the way again through Q1, Q2 and the initial runs in Q3 at Sakhir, but Bottas hit top position on his final run with a lap of one minute, 28.769 seconds.

Hamilton lost a chunk of time in the second sector of his final lap, and also had an oversteer moment at the final corner, so was unable to improve. He ended up second quickest by just 0.023 seconds.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was almost half a second further back in third, suggesting he “tried a bit too hard” on his final Q3 run, which was slower than his first.

Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull split the Ferraris by setting the fourth fastest time on his final run, just 0.022 seconds clear of Kimi Raikkonen.

Max Verstappen was a tenth further back, while Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg beat Felipe Massa’s Williams to the seventh fastest time, with a lap that was within two tenths of Verstappen’s.

Romain Grosjean again got the Haas team into Q3, ending up eighth quickest, well down on Massa and three tenths clear of Jolyon Palmer’s Renault.

Palmer made Q3 for the first time in his Formula 1 career, but eventually qualified over 1.2 seconds down on Renault team-mate Hulkenberg.

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat missed out on making the top ten shootout by less than half a tenth of a second, running wide at the final corner and failing to improve on his final Q2 run.

Lance Stroll made only one run after his Williams spent a long period making adjustments in the garage and he ended up only P12.

Pascal Wehrlein qualified a brilliant P13 in the Sauber, on a track he starred at last season for Manor, ahead of the Force India of fellow Mercedes junior Esteban Ocon, and the McLaren-Honda of Fernando Alonso, who didn’t set a time in Q2 after “we broke the power unit”.

Alonso scraped his McLaren-Honda into Q2 thanks to the Toro Rosso of fellow Spaniard Carlos Sainz stopping at the final corner in the final moments of Q1.

This relegated Sainz to P16 thanks to rivals earlier improving their times, and it also forced Sergio Perez to back off while on a hot lap in his Force India.

Perez still improved by nearly four tenths of a second, but this still left him down in P18, 0.005 seconds behind the second McLaren-Honda of Stoffel Vandoorne, who had outpaced Alonso fractionally during the initial runs in Q1.

Marcus Ericsson was only P19, over half a second slower than Sauber team-mate Wehrlein, while Haas’s Kevin Magnussen qualified slowest of all after aborting his final flying lap for the yellow flags displayed for Sainz’s stricken Toro Rosso.

So a fantastic performance by Valtteri Bottas. His first pole in the sport and earning his Mercedes team a front row grid slot with Lewis Hamilton slotting in second. It’s going to be fascinating to see who will have the upper hand in the race. Bring on the Bottas versus Hamilton desert duel.

Bahrain Grand Prix, qualifying positions:

1    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    1m28.769s
2    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m28.792s
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m29.247s
4    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m29.545s
5    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m29.567s
6    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m29.687s
7    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1m29.842s
8    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m30.074s
9    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m30.763s
10    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m31.074s
11    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m30.923s
12    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    1m31.168s
13    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    1m31.414s
14    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1m31.684s
15    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    No time
16    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m32.118s
17    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1m32.313s
18    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m32.318s
19    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m32.543s
20    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    1m32.900s

7 thoughts on “Bottas earns his first pole position for Mercedes

  1. Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by Formula1.com.

    Valtteri Bottas has taken his maiden Formula One pole position after beating Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton by just 0.023s in Saturday’s qualifying session for the 2017 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. Spicing up the mix for tomorrow’s race, Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari was joined on the second row by Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull, with their team mates Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen a row further back.

    Renault had a superb session under the floodlights, with Nico Hulkenberg seventh and Jolyon Palmer 10th. Between the yellow cars, Williams’ Felipe Massa and Haas’s Romain Grosjean completed the top ten.

    Under the evening sky, and in cooler temperatures of 31 degrees Celsius for the track and 30 air, Hamilton set the initial pace with 1m 30.814s in Q1, running Pirelli’s soft tyres. Verstappen was his closest challenger on supersofts, with 1m 30.904s, with Raikkonen third on 1m 30.988s from Vettel on softs on 1m 31.037s.

    As Palmer’s eighth and Pascal Wehrlein’s 14th for Sauber were notable, power loss stymied a fast but frustrated Carlos Sainz as his Toro Rosso stopped, leaving him 16th on 1m 32.188s ahead of brake-troubled Stoffel Vandoorne on 1m 32.313s for McLaren, Sergio Perez, remarkably, on only 1m 32.318s for Force India, Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber on 1m 32.543s and Kevin Magnussen’s Haas on 1m 32.900s. Some of these were hurt by the flags for Sainz’s stoppage.

    Excitingly, Hamilton just aced Bottas in Q2, with 1m 29.535s to 1m 29.555s, and then Vettel joined them with 1m 29.596s. It couldn’t get much closer. Then Raikkonen popped in 1m 29.43s, leaving Verstappen and Ricciardo trailing with 1m 30.307s and 1m 30.497s.

    A broken power unit accounted for Fernando Alonso’s McLaren, leaving him 15th, without a time. But all around him there was drama. Williams gambled on leaving Massa in the garage after he’d gone seventh on 1m 30.677s, but Hulkenberg leapt to fifth for Renault on 1m 30.169s shortly after being bumped by team mate Palmer. That left the fortunate Massa eighth, and Palmer, 10th behind a delighted Grosjean, still made his first Q3 of the year.

    The unlucky ones alongside Alonso were Daniil Kvyat on 1m 30.923s for Toro Rosso; Williams’ Lance Stroll, who didn’t get out until late because of front-end problems, got into Q3 on 1m 31.168s, then got bumped in the last-minute flurries; the impressive Wehrlein on 1m 31.414s; and Esteban Ocon for Force India on 1m 31.684s.

    So, as ever, it all came down to Q3. And whoever made the fewest mistakes. Would they beat Hamilton’s 2016 pole time of 1m 29.423s at last?

    After the first runs, the two Mercedes were at the front, Hamilton smashing his 2016 figure with 1m 28.792s, Bottas, on 1m 28.844s, right on his tail. The Ferraris were a little breathless in their wake, Vettel on 1m 29.247s, an understeering Raikkonen on 1m 29.684s. Verstappen got into that territory with 1m 29.687s, while Ricciardo was sixth with 1m 30.007s.

    Could Hamilton hang on for his 55th pole?

    The answer was no. He failed to improve, as did most of the really fast boys, with 1m 29.012s. But Bottas found what he needed, and took his first premier slot with 1m 28.769s, beating his team mate by just two-hundredths of a second after a fine effort.

    Vettel stayed third, failing to improve with 1m 29.634s, but though Raikkonen did, with 1m 29.567s, Ricciardo had got it all together to jump to fourth with 1m 29.545s. Verstappen stayed on 1m 29.687s, dropping to sixth, while Hulkenberg great run to 1m 29.842s left him seventh. Massa improved to 1m 30.074s for eighth ahead of Grosjean on 1m 30.763s, while Palmer, though delighted to make Q3, was disappointed with a lowly 1m 31.074s for 10th.

    Thus the provisional grid will line up: Bottas, Hamilton; Vettel, Ricciardo; Raikkonen, Verstappen; Hulkenberg, Massa; Grosjean, Palmer; Kvyat, Stroll; Wehrlein, Ocon; Alonso, Sainz; Vandoorne, Perez; Ericsson, Magnussen.

  2. After claiming his first pole position, Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas hopes this is ‘the first of many’. Formula1.com provides the story.

    Valtteri Bottas has started a Grand Prix from the front row three times in his F1 career, but Sunday’s race in Bahrain will be his first experience of pole position – and it’s already one the Mercedes driver plans to repeat.

    Bottas beat team mate Lewis Hamilton – who had been on pole here the last two years – by just 0.023s in Saturday’s Sakhir qualifying session, as he bounced back in style from the ‘amateur’ error that left him red faced last time out in China.

    “Obviously I’m really happy – the first pole in my career,” said the Finn. “It’s my fifth season in F1, so it took a few races, but hopefully it is the first of many.

    “A big thanks to the team for giving me this car to drive. We are both starting on the front row and I really managed to get a lot of lap time out the car in the cooler night time conditions.”

    Bottas’s maiden pole comes in only his third race for Mercedes and his success ends Hamilton’s run of six successive P1 grid slots, stretching back to last year’s United States round.

    “Big congratulations to Valtteri,” said Hamilton. “He’s been working so hard and today he was just quicker – he just did a better job, so hats off to him.

    “I was losing quite a bit through the first sector, which is unusual as usually that’s a stronger point for me. Overall I was just a little bit down, but a great battle. That’s how close quali should always be – it forces us to be right on the limit.”

    Team boss Toto Wolff was also full of praise for Bottas, saying his qualifying performance was ample recompense for his needless spin behind the safety car in Shanghai last weekend.

    “The first ever pole position for any driver in F1 is a huge moment,” said Wolff. “He was very down after that (spin) happened and he apologised many times because he lost the team points, but as a matter of fact he has paid it back today.

    “He has kept his calm and that is important because he has the best team mate you can probably have in F1. It’s a perfect situation now for us, for the team, because they will be pushing each other – and with all the respect they have for each other as racing drivers – so it’s good.”

    Looking ahead to Sunday’s race, Bottas insisted he was taking nothing for granted as he seeks his first race win, his best previous results being the pair of second places he scored for Williams in Britain and Germany in 2014.

    “As a team we need to enjoy this [pole] for a short period of time,” he said. “The main thing is tomorrow and there is no point to start dreaming about anything.

    “We need to work together as a team to plan a good strategy and for me it’s just about focusing for the race and getting the maximum out of it.”

  3. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton admitted that his team-mate’s pole form was “keeping me on my toes”. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas is keeping him on his toes after the Finn took his maiden Formula 1 pole position in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

    Bottas, in his third race for Mercedes after being drafted in to replace Nico Rosberg, hit top spot on his final run to edge out Hamilton by just 0.023 seconds.

    “Valtteri is keeping me on my toes – he really deserved that lap,” said Hamilton, who lost time in the second sector and at the final corner on his final lap.

    “A first pole position, it is just amazing – you dream that as a kid and tomorrow could be his first GP win ever. He did a great job.”

    Bottas became the fifth Finn to take a Formula 1 pole position, after Keke Rosberg, Mika Hakkinen, Kimi Raikkonen and Heikki Kovalainen.

    It comes on the back of a difficult weekend in China, where he spun behind the safety car before recovering to salvage sixth.

    “Obviously very happy,” he said. “It is the first pole in my career – it took a few races but we got it and hopefully it is the first of many.

    “I definitely now feel much more comfortable in the car with the car than qualifying in Melbourne. The more time you spend with the car and driving it, you get more at one with the car.

    “It is good to keep making progress and getting better all the time. If you have a good or bad weekend before, if you have a struggle in the last race it nice to start the next weekend in a good way.

    “I would rather be on pole, than anything less, so let’s see tomorrow.”

    Ferrari’s challenge failed to materialise, with Sebastian Vettel nearly half a second back in third after saying he “tried a bit too hard” on his final run in Q3.

    But Hamilton expects a sterner challenge from the Italian team on Sunday.

    “Today we had a margin to the Ferrari but generally in race they tend to be closer. It will definitely be a close battle.

    “I don’t know how their long runs run but I think they were good. It will be interesting to see temperatures and we will hopefully have a great battle.”

  4. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel admits he was “a bit down” after seeing the gap between himself and the Mercedes duo in Q3 in Bahrain, having expected to be much closer to the Silver Arrows.

    The Italian marque looked a good match for Mercedes throughout the weekend, Vettel sweeping Friday practice and running the German team’s drivers close during the first two segments of qualifying.

    But while Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton produced a thrilling fight for pole in Q3 – the former leading the latter by 0.023s in a Mercedes 1-2 – Vettel had to do with finishing a distant third.

    The German, who wound up 0.478s off pole after failing to improve with his second effort in the final segment, recalled: “In Q2 I thought ‘okay, it will be tight’, happy to go into Q3 – and then I was very happy with my first lap.

    “And when I got the time, I was a bit down. Four tenths was a lot more than expected given how good I felt.

    “On the last run, I tried probably too hard everywhere, we had nothing to lose. I tried a bit harder but didn’t work, was slightly slower. Being a tenth quick [wouldn’t be] good enough but I tried.

    “We hope to be quicker tomorrow.”

    Vettel, who did comfortably outqualify teammate Kimi Raikkonen, said he wasn’t sure why Ferrari’s deficit to Mercedes had grown larger than it had been in the first two rounds of the season.

    “I haven’t seen where we lost most of the time, but a little spread everywhere,” he said. “Sector 1 and 3 stood out, Sector 2 not too bad.

    “I don’t know if they have an update for here, and they can push harder. We lost a bit more time there, a bit more than usual.

    “For tomorrow, the most important thing is the car felt good today.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

  5. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen is asking for respect after Felipe Massa “ruined my lap”. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Max Verstappen says Felipe Massa “ruined” his final lap in Bahrain Grand Prix Formula 1 qualifying by overtaking him into the final corner.

    The Red Bull driver ended up only sixth on the grid after topping final practice, and while he felt that performance had probably been misleading, he believes he could have qualified higher than where he ended up.

    “First in FP3 doesn’t say a lot but still we looked competitive,” said Verstappen. “Qualifying was very positive as well, every run just getting faster, basically.

    “I felt really good, but on my last run I was behind Lewis [Hamilton] and we were just preparing our laps.

    “Just before I wanted to prepare into the last corner, Felipe dived in front of me then just stopped.

    “There was a big gap behind us, so it was like, ‘why did you do that?’

    “I just had to stay in first gear all round the corner to make a gap to him, that basically ruined my lap because you have cold tyres, you have a very bad exit out of that last corner and then it’s ruined.”

    When asked if he would discuss the matter with the Williams driver, Verstappen added: “Well he’s a Brazilian – so there’s not much to discuss.

    “At Turn 1 the tyres were too cold, so you understeer and it snowballs.

    “It’s a bit of a shame – we could respect each other on that to keep a bit of a gap instead of trying to squeeze in just before the last corner.”

    Despite the disappointing qualifying session, Verstappen is optimistic that Red Bull is making progress and he can move forward in the race.

    “It was a positive qualifying in general, so it will be interesting tomorrow,” he said.

    “We can be close to Ferrari – Mercedes is still a little bit too quick but normally when it’s hard on the tyres they tend to struggle a bit more, so you never know.

    “We all know that in qualifying Mercedes and Ferrari can turn their engines up a little bit more than us unfortunately, but in the race normally we look a little bit more competitive.”

  6. Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg says qualifying lap was as good as Brazil 2010, in which he scored pole position for Williams. Motorsport.com has the news piece.

    Nico Hulkenberg says the qualifying lap he produced to secure seventh place on the grid for the Bahrain Grand Prix was as good as any of his previous efforts in F1.

    The German driver gave Renault its second seventh-place start in a row, having also occupied that position in China last weekend.

    Hulkenberg finished a second off pole position and less than three tenths behind the quickest Red Bull, powered by the same Renault engine.

    Hulkenberg says his qualifying lap was as good as the one that secured him his first and so far only pole position in F1 in the 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix, when he was driving for Williams.

    “It was seriously, together with Brazil 2010, the best qualy lap in my career,” said Hulkenberg. “Especially around here, which I always found to struggle to hook it all up perfectly.

    “But today it was smooth. It was beautiful. A great lap.”

    The Renault driver, who is yet to score a point this season, said his car’s one-lap pace has not come as a surprise to him.

  7. Fernando Alonso says he will need a new engine for the Bahrain Grand Prix after his qualifying session came to an early end when his Honda unit broke down.

    Alonso was about to complete his first flying lap in Q2 when his engine shut down, the Spaniard driving slowly into the pits before getting out of the car and calling it a day.

    The McLaren driver said what was already looking to be a difficult race will only be harder from 15th on the grid and with an engine he will not be able to test properly before the race.

    “It’s a shame. The lap was going well,” Alonso said. “I had improved half a second over the Q1 lap so I think we could have been 13th, 14th, 12th, depending on the others.

    “But going into the final corner the engine broke down and I joined the pitlane slowly. It was already a hard race, but this makes it even harder.

    “We have to change the power unit and without the chance to calibrate the engine a bit we will probably not run the race with all the power available, which is already little.”

    An engine change would mean Alonso will start the third race of the season with his second power unit of 2017.

    Drivers are allowed to use four engines before they start penalising this year.

    He added: “Let’s hope they get the settings right, but it’s always good to at least do a session to calibrate it as best as possible. So I’m expecting a difficult race.

    “It was going to be already, but now a bit more. We usually need help from the cars in front, so tomorrow we’ll need it more than ever.”

    Alonso admitted the problem had come at the worst possible time.

    “In qualy it’s never easy because you don’t have the chance to put a new engine and do a few laps to set it up a bit,” he said.

    “So in that sense, a bad moment, but we don’t choose it. I wish we never had that and we changed the engine with its time because of the mileage and not because they break down.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

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