Valtteri Bottas has ended Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton’s domination of qualifying to claim the first pole position of his career at the Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix.

The gap between the two was a scant 0.023 seconds in the final reckoning, although the early phases of the session suggested Hamilton would have the advantage.

With Mercedes turning up the wick to deliver extra power, Hamilton was fastest in both Q1 and Q2. He laid down an excellent benchmark on his first Q3 run with a 1:28.792 to edge Bottas’ own effort by just 0.052 seconds with a stronger final sector.

Opting to go out on a second run, Hamilton had a slower middle sector which allowed Bottas to capitalise and claim top spot with a 1:28.769.

After being fastest in Friday’s two practice sessions with Sebastian Vettel on top of the time sheets, Ferrari had no answer to Mercedes’ one-lap pace. Vettel claimed ‘best of the rest’ honours, but was almost half a second off the pace. Teammate Kimi Räikkönen was fifth-fastest, complaining of understeer.

Red Bull Racing couldn’t sustain its pace from final practice where Max Verstappen was fastest overall. The Dutch youngster qualified sixth-fastest, while teammate Daniel Ricciardo did well to split the Ferraris and claim fourth.

Renault has enjoyed a very competitive weekend thanks particularly to the efforts of Nico Hülkenberg, but both he and teammate Jolyon Palmer made it into Q3. Hülkenberg managed to claim seventh on the grid and Palmer was tenth-fastest after selecting the wrong engine mode on his sole flying lap. Williams’ Felipe Massa and Haas’ Romain Grosjean were eighth and ninth.

Daniil Kvyat narrowly missed out on a Q3 berth by just 0.024 seconds, losing critical time by understeering over the kerbs as he exited the final corner. The Russian will line up ahead of Lance Stroll, Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon.

McLaren’s Fernando Alonso once again outperformed the expectations of his McLaren-Honda to get into Q2, however his power unit failed as he crossed the finish line at the end of Q1. The Spaniard took no further part in the session.

His teammate Stoffel Vandoorne joined the likes of Sergio Pérez, Kevin Magnussen and Carlos Sainz Jr in having an early bath in qualifying, all of whom could legitimately have claims to make it further.

Sainz was the trigger – on a hot lap good enough for a top-ten position, his Toro Rosso suddenly ground to a halt in the final minutes of the session. His stoppage triggered double-waved yellow flags, forcing Magnussen and Pérez to abandon potentially faster laps.

Q3 Qualifiers Team / Entry Time Gap Tyre
1. Valtteri Bottas fi Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08 1:28.769 Pirelli Super Soft
2. Lewis Hamilton uk Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08 1:28.792 + 0.023 Pirelli Super Soft
3. Sebastian Vettel de Scuderia Ferrari SF70H 1:29.247 + 0.478 Pirelli Super Soft
4. Daniel Ricciardo au Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13 1:29.545 + 0.776 Pirelli Super Soft
5. Kimi Räikkönen fi Scuderia Ferrari SF70H 1:29.567 + 0.792 Pirelli Super Soft
6. Max Verstappen nl Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13 1:29.687 + 0.918 Pirelli Super Soft
7. Nico Hülkenberg de Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 1:29.842 + 1.073 Pirelli Super Soft
8. Felipe Massa br Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40 1:30.074 + 1.305 Pirelli Super Soft
9. Romain Grosjean fr Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17 1:30.763 + 1.994 Pirelli Super Soft
10. Jolyon Palmer Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 1:31.074 + 2.305 Pirelli Super Soft
Q2 Qualifiers Team / Entry Time Gap** Tyre
11. Daniil Kvyat ru Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12 1:30.923 + 1.388 Pirelli Super Soft
12. Lance Stroll ca Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40 1:31.168 + 1.633 Pirelli Super Soft
13. Pascal Wehrlein de Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36 1:31.414 + 1.879 Pirelli Super Soft
14. Esteban Ocon fr Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10 1:31.684 + 2.149 Pirelli Super Soft
15. Fernando Alonso es McLaren-Honda MP4-31 no time
Q1 Qualifiers Team / Entry Time Gap* Tyre
16. Carlos Sainz Jr es Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12 1:32.118 + 1.304 Pirelli Super Soft
17. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Honda MP4-31 1:32.313 + 1.499 Pirelli Super Soft
18. Sergio Pérez Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10 1:32.318 + 1.504 Pirelli Super Soft
19. Marcus Ericsson se Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36 1:32.543 + 1.729 Pirelli Super Soft
20. Kevin Magnussen dk Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17 1:32.900 + 2.086 Pirelli Super Soft

* Denotes gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:30.814 posted by Lewis Hamilton
** Denotes gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:29.535 posted by Lewis Hamilton

^Post-Qualifying Penalties:

  • To be confirmed

Image via LAT Images

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.