Bottas, Russell on front row for Sakhir GP

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2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, Saturday – LAT Images

George Russel and Valtteri Bottas lined up to keep the Mercedes pole domination going for the Sakhir Grand Prix. Russell making his debut with Mercedes standing in for a COVID-19 impacted Lewis Hamilton, had down well during the practice sessions but so too had Bottas as well as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Using the outer loop of the Bahrain circuit would be a brand new challenge for the F1 teams and it would also present some of the quickest times in F1 history with sub-one minute lap times.

McLaren worked long hours over Friday night making serious changes to their cars due to a lack of pace and Ferrari changed Sebastian Vettel’s engine between FP3 and qualifying. It was also a debut for Pietro Fittipaldi at Haas F1 standing in for the recovering Romain Grosjean and Jack Aitken standing in for George Russell at Williams.

Q1

Jack Aitken did a nice job just a tenth off Nichola Latifi’s time. That means Latifi out qualified his teammate for the first time in his F1 career. Fittipladi struggled to stay close to teammate Kevin Magnussen. Out in Q1 were Latifi, Aitken, Raikkonen, Magnussen, and Fittipaldi.

Q2

If you’re following the battle for third in the Constructor’s Championship, then the pace of the Renault duo in Q2 was important as was Racing Point’s and McLaren. Both Ferrari’s made their second runs on Medium tires which was an interesting gamble. Vettel aborted the lap and Charles Leclerc jumped up to 6th. Out in Q2 were Norris, Albon, Vettel, Giovinazzi and Ocon.

Q3

Initial runs proved a bit of a surprise with Mercedes bested by Leclerc’s Ferrari and Verstappen’s Red Bull who was on provisional pole. This left the two Racing Point cars charging forward with Perez pipping Russell. Interestingly, Mercedes was immediately back out to make three runs during the session.

Mercs were using scrubbed Softs for their first run. The second runs were on fresh Softs and that launched Bottas to provisional pole followed by Russell in 2nd.

Russell missed pole by just two hundredths of a second from Bottas and Verstappen slotted third for the race. A terrific result for Daniil Kvyat and Charles Leclerc.

PosNameCarQ1Q2Q3
1Valtteri BottasMercedes53.904s53.803s53.377s
2George RussellMercedes54.16s53.819s53.403s
3Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda54.037s53.647s53.433s
4Charles LeclercFerrari54.249s53.825s53.613s
5Sergio PérezRacing Point-Mercedes54.236s53.787s53.79s
6Daniil KvyatAlphaTauri-Honda54.346s53.856s53.906s
7Daniel RicciardoRenault54.388s53.871s53.957s
8Carlos Sainz Jr.McLaren-Renault54.45s53.818s54.01s
9Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda54.207s53.941s54.154s
10Lance StrollRacing Point-Mercedes54.595s53.84s54.2s
11Esteban OconRenault54.309s53.995s
12Alex AlbonRed Bull-Honda54.62s54.026s
13Sebastian VettelFerrari54.301s54.175s
14Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari54.523s54.377s
15Lando NorrisMcLaren-Renault54.194s54.693s
16Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari54.705s
17Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes54.796s
18Jack AitkenWilliams-Mercedes54.892s
19Kimi RäikkönenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari54.963s
20Pietro FittipaldiHaas-Ferrari55.426s
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Fred

Congrad to Russel which brings up the old question how many other drivers out there could do as well given the equipment.