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HAMILTON STORMS TO POLE AT THE GULF AIR BAHRAIN F1 GP

Lewis Hamilton led teammate Valtteri Bottas to yet another 2020 Mercedes AMG Petronas qualifying lockout at the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. Hamilton, with a record equalling 7th Formula One World title safely tucked away, was finally free to enjoy himself and doing what he does best.

Bottas was left scratching his head after falling almost 3/10ths shy of Hamilton’s one lap pace. Max Verstappen once again held the mantle as ‘best of the rest’, while fellow Aston Martin Red Bull driver, Alex Albon, overcame a crash on Friday to record the 4th fastest time.

“You know I came today and I was like, ‘let’s just have fun and enjoy and that’s the most important thing, to enjoy what you’re doing, and with the pressure a little bit off, it’s a bit of a release to go and drive like I just did, Lewis Hamilton told f1.com. “It has been such an incredible year anything from now is a bonus, he said. “It’s close between the three of us [Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen] and we have a couple of tricky races ahead, so it’s not something I am thinking about. I will get there eventually and not necessarily in the next two but I will be pushing as hard as I can that’s for sure.

Qualifying for the evening race was also held in the cooler evening temperatures with tyre degradation the main talking point. Drivers forced onto the softer compound during Q2 would find their race strategy compromised by an early pit stop. It was rather fortunate for all bar Carlos Sainz, when the McLaren driver triggered a red flag during the second stage of qualifying that resulted in the top 10 all recording fastest laps on the medium tyre. Sainz, on the other hand, was left incensed by a mechanical issue which pre-empted his spin.

“Very disappointing day today, Sainz told f1.com. “I was feeling comfortable with the car and managed to go through Q1 with only one set of tyres, saving two new sets of Softs for Q3. We obviously hit an issue at the start of Q2, which locked up the rear axle and that was it. We don’t know exactly what’s the cause of the problem but very disappointed because I had just saved some softs for later in the quali and that set of mediums, it’s so important this weekend, it looks like it’s completely flat-spotted and I’m not going to be able to use [them].

The opening stage of qualifying ran a fairly predictable pattern with the Alfa Romeos, Haas and Williams of Nicholas Latifi all eliminated.

Carlos Sainz’s issues with the McLaren had a flow-on effect across the pitlane, with many having to give up a first flying lap when the red flag appeared.  In addition to Sainz, Russell, Vettel, Leclerc and Vettel were eliminated from Q3.

Hamilton was in a league of his own during Q3 and set the fastest time during his first run on the soft tyres and then lowered the qualifying record with his final run. Max Verstappen had looked set to start from P2 only to drop back to the second row after Bottas squeezed some more time out of his Mercedes.

Alex Albon had a new chassis at his disposal after Friday’s incident necessitated the change, and he set a career equalling best of 4th in an all Red Bull second row. 

Albon recovered from his crash on Friday to seal fourth on the grid in Bahrain

Sergio Perez claimed 5th from Daniel Ricciardo after the Australian had been the slowest during the first run in Q3.

“I’m happy with the top six today. It was very close, but I was pleased with my lap to put us up there at the top end of the timesheets, Ricciardo told Renault Sport Media. “I used both new sets in Q1 so I only had one new set in Q3 and maybe with an additional run it could have been a little better. It’s still good, though, and I’m happy.

Daniel Ricciardo at Bahrain he’ll start from 6th – Photo: Renault F1 FB

Full Qualifying Results

Driver Grid Qual time  

L. Hamilton

Mercedes·#44
1 1:27.264  

V. Bottas

Mercedes·#77
2 1:27.553  

M. Verstappen

Red Bull·#33
3 1:27.678  

A. Albon

Red Bull·#23
4 1:28.274  

S. Pérez

Racing Point·#11
5 1:28.322  

D. Ricciardo

Renault·#3
6 1:28.417  

E. Ocon

Renault·#31
7 1:28.419  

P. Gasly

AlphaTauri·#10
8 1:28.448  

L. Norris

McLaren·#4
9 1:28.542  

D. Kvyat

AlphaTauri·#26
10 1:28.618  

S. Vettel

Ferrari·#5
11 1:29.149  

C. Leclerc

Ferrari·#16
12 1:29.165  

L. Stroll

Racing Point·#18
13 1:29.557  

G. Russell

Williams·#63
14 1:31.218  

C. Sainz Jr.

McLaren·#55
15 DNF  

A. Giovinazzi

Alfa Romeo·#99
16 1:29.491  

K. Räikkönen

Alfa Romeo·#7
17 1:29.810  

K. Magnussen

Haas·#20
18 1:30.111  

R. Grosjean

Haas·#8
19 1:30.138  

N. Latifi

Williams·#6
20 1:30.182

Photos: fi.com


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