Lewis Hamilton will start tomorrow’s Bahrain Grand Prix from pole position after beating teammate Valtteri Bottas by more than quarter of a second in qualifying at the Sakhir International Circuit.
It had looked like Max Verstappen would be the seven-time champion’s closest challenger, but Bottas found pace late on to ensure both Mercedes would be on the front row.
Traffic was a problem at the start of qualifying, with many drivers in Q1 vying for track position. Both Ferrari drivers and Lando Norris found themselves needing to set faster times late on after initially getting caught up in the queue, but all three avoided the bottom five.
There was a red flag midway through Q2 as Carlos Sainz’s McLaren sharply spun, leaving the Spaniard stricken on the apex of the hairpin.
It meant a number of drivers who were on fast laps when the session was halted missed out, and had to try again once the clock restarted, leaving them with less than 10 minutes to book a spot in Q3.
Both Ferrari drivers failed to progress, with Sebastian Vettel saying over the radio that a couple of bumps on the track cost him, while Lance Stroll was a surprise elimination, setting a time almost a second slower than he managed in Q1, leaving him 13th on the grid for tomorrow’s race.
Alexander Albon put his huge crash from practice behind him to join his teammate on the second row, while his rumoured rival for the secon Red Bull seat next year, Sergio Perez, is just behind, ahead of the Renaults.
Provisional qualifying result:
1 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
4. Alexander Albon (Red Bull)
5. Sergio Perez (Racing Point)
6. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)
7. Esteban Ocon (Renault)
8. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)
9. Lando Norris (McLaren)
10. Daniil Kvyat (AlphaTauri)
11. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
12. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
13. Lance Stroll (Racing Point)
14. George Russell (Williams)
15. Carlos Sainz (McLaren)
16. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)
17. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
18. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
19. Romain Grosjean (Haas)
20. Nicholas Latifi (Williams)