Lewis Hamilton claimed his 98th Formula 1 pole position, setting a new lap record to seize the advantage at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
As the lights took hold over the Sakhir circuit, qualifying began for the Bahrain Grand Prix with drivers tripping over one another in Q1 as they queued to start a hot lap.
Charles Leclerc had a few words to say as he was forced to hit the brakes as cars ahead of him were almost stationary through Turn 14. “Please don’t send me into traffic like this,” he added to Ferrari.
While Lewis Hamilton set the pace ahead of Lance Stroll, the Ferrari driver was P15 and on the bubble.
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) November 28, 2020
Leclerc improved to ninth place while out went Antonio Giovinazzi, Kimi Raikkonen, Kevin Magnussen, Romain Grosjean, Nicholas Latifi.
Grosjean’s response to his early exit: “I wanted to enjoy it. That car does not allow you to enjoy it.”
As with Q1, it was a quiet start to Q2 with not a single car out in the first two-and-a-half minutes – and then they all went out.
Given the abrasive circuit, the medium Pirellis were the tyre of choice for Q2 with only Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat leaving the pits on the soft tyres.
Whatever tyre the driver uses to set his fastest time in Q2, that’s the tyre he will use in the first stint of the grand prix.
Their runs, though, were aborted when Carlos Sainz spun his McLaren at Turn 1 when his rear tyres locked. Unable to get going, the red flag was thrown to allow marshals to retrieve his car.
RED FLAG 🚩
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 28, 2020
Qualifying resumed with 9:10 on the clock and not a single lap time on the board. This time all 15 drivers went out on the medium tyres.
Hamilton went quickest ahead of Verstappen and Bottas with Alex Albon making a mistake that cost him time, forcing him to swap to a set of the soft tyres.
He made it through in fifth place as out went Sebastian Vettel, Leclerc, Stroll, George Russell and Norris.
For Q3 the last 10 drivers standing returned to the soft tyres. Norris laid down the first marker, a 1:29.0. That didn’t stand for long.
Perez went quicker with Hamilton taking over with a 1:27.6 while Verstappen slid into second place ahead of Bottas and Perez.
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) November 28, 2020
Hamilton upped his pace on his second run, purple in all three sectors on his way to a 1:27.264. It was a new track record.
Bottas also improved but could only go second, relegating Verstappen to third. Bottas was 0.289s slower than his team-mate.
Albon was fourth ahead of Perez, Ricciardo, Ocon and Gasly. Norris and Kvyat completing the top ten.
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:27.264
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 0.289s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.414s
4 Alex Albon Red Bull 1.010s
5 Sergio Perez Racing Point 1.058s
6 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1.153s
7 Esteban Ocon Renault 1.155s
8 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1.184s
9 Lando Norris McLaren 1.278s
10 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri 1.354s
11 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:29.149
12 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:29.165
13 Lance Stroll Racing Point 1:29.557
14 George Russell Williams 1:31.218
15 Carlos Sainz McLaren no time
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 1:29.491
17 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 1:29.810
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:30.111
19 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:30.138
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:30.182