Vettel takes pole position for Bahrain GP


The Sun was down, the lights were on and qualifying began for the Bahrain Grand Prix. With 63% of the lap at full throttle, the dynamics and possible qualifying performances may be quite different than the season-opener in Australia.

Friday’s practice sessions suggested that Ferrari may have some serious qualifying pace and with Lewis Hamilton heading into the session with a 5-place grid penalty, it was down to his teammate, Valtteri Bottas, to pick up the mantle for Mercedes and this is the exact reason that the team hired him. IF there was a time for Valtteri to shine, Saturday evening was it.

Australia is a public road circuit and Bahrain is a purpose-built race track so the questions remained about Toro Rosso, McLaren, Haas and others. Where would the teams finish?


Sauber and Toro Rosso were first out and had shown good pace on Friday. Kimi Raikkonen went out on soft compounds while Lewis was on super softs. Raikkonen set a terrific first run at 1:28.951 with his teammate, Sebastian Vettel just a tenth off.

Max Verstappen put his Red Bull into the tire barrier in turn two after losing the backend in the apex of the corner. He radioed his team “F***, F***, F***!”. The red flag was out stopping Q1.

Grosjean set the exact same time as Fernando Alonso but as the Spaniard set it first, Grosjean was out in Q1. Both McLaren clung to Q2, barely, with the Toro Rosso’s ahead of them as well as the Haas, Renault and Force India teams.

Out in Q1: Grosjean, Ericsson, Sirotkin, Leclerc, Stroll.


Vettel was out first on super soft tires. Lewis, factoring his grid penalty, came out in Q2 on soft tires. Vettel led Raikkonen on the initial lap. Bottas slotted behind his fellow countryman in third while Lewis brought his soft compound shod car to second and a fastest second sector. Just a tenth off the Ferrari’s pace.

Lewis switched to super soft tires for his second run and Pierre Gasly pulled his Honda-powered car up to P9 and into Q3. Both McLaren’s couldn’t mount a challenge and were out. McLaren’s Eric Boullier said that this circuit doesn’t flatter them but their Australia pace was more representative. He said the team were all a bit stunned.

Out in Q2: Perez, Alonso, Vandoorne, Hartley, Verstappen


Renault and STR first out. Ferrari’s out on super soft tires. Vettel ran wide on final turn while Kimi took provisional pole with a 1:28.101. Bottas third fastest with Daniel Ricciardo in 4th and Lewis displaces Bottas in third. Lewis needs pole so final run was critical.

Pierrre Gasly, the driver of the session, put his STR in 6th on his first run. With Ricciardo in 5th, the final run would be very interesting to see if he could spoil Mercedes’ race by beating Bottas. It was all to play for with just 2:16 left in the session.

The final runs came down to which Ferrari might claim pole. Raikkonen looking strong all weekend and on point. Vettel struggling over the Friday sessions as well as Q1 and Q2. Could this be Kimi’s year or would Vettel deliver when it mattered? Could Bottas upset the Ferrari’s or would be succumb to Ricciardo’s challenge?

Bottas split the two Ferrari’s while Hamilton slotted fourth but in the end, Vettel took pole just ahead of Kimi with Bottas doing exactly what he was hired for claiming third. Delivering when it counts, Vettel pipped his teammate but it must be said that Kimi looks terrific and on pace this season and that bodes well for Ferrari.

For Mercedes, it would have been better for Hamilton to lead Bottas as he has a 5-place grid penalty but perhaps the team forgot to tell Valtteri that as he knew he had work to do sans Lewis on the front row.

For me, Pierre Gasly was the driver of qualifying


1Sebastian VettelFerrari1m27.958s
2Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1m28.101s0.143s
3Valtteri BottasMercedes1m28.124s0.166s
4Daniel RicciardoRed Bull/Renault1m28.398s0.440s
5Pierre GaslyToro Rosso/Honda1m29.329s1.371s
6Kevin MagnussenHaas/Ferrari1m29.358s1.400s
7Nico HulkenbergRenault1m29.570s1.612s
8Esteban OconForce India/Mercedes1m29.874s1.916s
9Lewis HamiltonMercedes1m28.220s0.262s
10Carlos SainzRenault1m29.986s2.028s
11Brendon HartleyToro Rosso/Honda1m30.105s2.147s
12Sergio PerezForce India/Mercedes1m30.156s2.198s
13Fernando AlonsoMcLaren/Renault1m30.212s2.254s
14Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren/Renault1m30.525s2.567s
15Max VerstappenRed Bull/Renault
16Romain GrosjeanHaas/Ferrari1m30.530s2.572s
17Marcus EricssonSauber/Ferrari1m31.063s3.105s
18Sergey SirotkinWilliams/Mercedes1m31.414s3.456s
19Charles LeclercSauber/Ferrari1m31.420s3.462s
20Lance StrollWilliams/Mercedes1m31.503s3.545s
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KMag looks like he will be the better Haas driver this year so far. Grosean surprisingly slow. Hamilton didn’t produce when he needs it. He does well in the races though. Should be fun.


It is amazing how different drivers show in different cars. KMag has always been a very fast driver, he showed that in his McLaren year.
This year’s Haas seems to let him show his best, again.
I wonder if Hamiltons relative poor qualifying position is to do with Mercedes having to set the car up to be running in traffic.

sunny stivala

Fully agree about your Mercedes situation assessment, that level of intelligence about the goings-on makes it (this site) a much more pleasant discussion place then the usual useless bantering being thrown around. Mercedes has been forced into an urgent and drastic reassessment of their car operating set-ups by FERRARI clearly having truly caught-up with them. Mercedes started the new formula with clearly the best overall “CAR” package, this advantage gave them leeway to marginalize their car systems in a very different way to those trying to catch-up with them, something they could afford being able to most of the time… Read more »


Thanks Sunny, it certainly looks like Mercedes have optimised their car to run in clean air. Which for three seasons was normally only hampering Rosberg. As we saw last year, its now hampering both Mercedes drivers, and they really struggled to work their way up the field when they started from low grid positions. Given the expectation that RBR would be joining Ferrari in closely challenging Mercedes in 2018, it was a surprise to me that this season’s Mercedes still seems to be configured to run in clean air. As you say they have a lot of work to do… Read more »

sunny stivala

Only hope of more of this type of discussion on here for a change, hope to have opportunities for more and that others will join, its certainly cleaner, more civilized and we can all enrich our Knowledge through such discussion. for instance I was expecting DAVE to start a discussion about the wheel nut cross threading when the opportunity came up after Australia (the why and how it happens). Meanwhile while waiting for race start, interesting youtube videos showing to watch such as “Vettel vs Alonso qualifying lap (+ telemetry) -Bahrain GP 1…”. Can also google and watch “Vettel vs… Read more »


I certainly learn a lot from our chats, and from some of the others in the TPF community.
A few good contributors have gone missing in the change from FBC, but hopefully they’ll be back (where are you Tom?).
I hope Dave picks up on your suggestion on wheel attachment systems.
It would be interesting to know how the wheel nut and the ‘retention systems’ work, and why the sometimes don’t.
I’ll be recording this race, its at a very unfriendly time for NZ, a 3am Monday morning start – too late to stay up, too early to get up.

The Captain

50% of me believes both Honda’s will explode on the second lap.

100% of me believes Alonso will spend the night screaming into a pillow.

sunny stivala

Verstappen claims car crashed itself.


Haha! He’s a proper racer then, never made a mistake.

sunny stivala

Yes, even the one in Australia was called a “MAX THREESIXTY” and not a mistake.


That’s another error from Verstappen, must be frustrating for the team.
He was going well in Q1, 2 and 3, so it could be spectacular having him coming through the field from 15th. Unless he gets frustrated like in Australia and throws it away or causes an accident.

Michael H

What is everyone’s feeling about that crash and his car control? Seems like he had a moment where he could have allowed it to come around, give it some heavy gas and that would have saved it or at least kept him off the wall. Actually, he had two moments. He lost it and tried to save it, then he dialed in a lot more reverse-lock which guided it in a flat uncontrolled slid into the wall. Personally, I think the Indy Car guys are a little too bonzai in their overtaking. At least during the St. Petersburg race… Read more »

sunny stivala

Lulu says he have no party mode on this engine, so would somebody please ask him if this is the same engine he used in Australia or not.

sunny stivala

Honda couldn’t have kicked McLaren harder then this.


It’s been a great weekend for STR/Honda so far.
Gasley has been doing an awesome job, getting the most from the car, and being consistently quick.
I’m obviously disappointed that Hartley hasn’t been able to match him (yet).
As you say McLaren must be gutted.
In front of their owners and backers, to be behind the STR Honda, and slowest Renault powered car, by a big margin.
On the plus side, if you’d told McLaren last season that they’d be comfortably ahead of Force India and Williams, they’d probably have been delighted.

sunny stivala

Gasley seems to be the faster of the two STR drivers but Hartley experience is as much important team wise. The present differences in lap times between the two STR cars the majority of it is in my opinion down to the car and not all down to the driver. If you go back to winter testing time you will find me posting that I had started frequenting real good Japanese F1 websites, and I quoted that while Honda were showing such improved trouble free results in testing back at Sakura they were test bed running two different development level… Read more »


I suppose we still have to see how they perform in the race, but on pace so far STR Honda are looking good.
Was there an explanation for the failure of Gasley’s car in Melbourne, and which component (s) failed?

sunny stivala

Gasley’s Honda had an MGU-H failure which as in most cases damaged the turbo, of which in turn as in most cases the turbo damaged the ICE, The ICE damage having been confirmed back at SAKURA by borescope and oil OES inspection (NOTE, AN ICE OUT OF THE POOL ALLOCATED TO A DRIVER WHICH IS IN USE IS SEALED AND NOT PERMITTED TO BE RE-RUN BETWEEN RACE WEEKENDS).
Anyhow, Gasley started Bahrain on his second ICE, MGU-H and TURBO, as a precaution Hartley started Bahrain on his second MGU-H and TURBO but still using ICE number 1.


Thanks Sunny, That’s a very comprehensive run down, and a very comprehensive ‘melt down’ of the Honda p.u.
A couple of questions – the MGU-h and turbo from Hartley’s car are still available for him to use, as they haven’t failed. Is that correct?
And what is OES inspection? I’m assuming that is detection of metal from failed components in the oil?

sunny stivala

What I know up to now (Japanese sites) is that Hartley’s MGU-H and TURBO were changed as a precaution and not because they were damaged. if on inspection they are passed as fit to race they will still be part of the pool of PU elements allocated to him (mix and match).

sunny stivala

OES “optical emission spectroscopy”.


So do these results mean Ferrari has a “party” mode, too or did M-B/AMG F1 dialed LH’s engine back to “somber” mode, knowing he was getting a 5-place grid penalty and reducing it from further stress? Expect more complaints and inquiries about Haas and Zak Brown, Fernando Alonso and McLaren feeling some buyer’s regret for Honda.

sunny stivala

From before the new PU formula (engine) ran on track FERRARI had the “FREE LOAD MAX POWER OUTPUT SYSTEM) designed into their PU/engine. this is what number 44 of Mercedes was referring to (actually BS-ING ABOUT) as the PARTY MODE.

sunny stivala

For those that are interested as to how the “FREE LOAD MAX POWER OUTPUT SYSTEM” works:- With the engine at maximum fuel flow allowed, with waste gates open, and in electric supercharging mode (MHU-H spinning the compressor) with the MGU-H and MGU-K sharing battery power. In this mode the engine is producing the maximum power possible.


How about ESPN airing qualifying with ZERO commercial breaks!
Not even between sessions or during the red flag in Q1 when an ad break would be sensible and least invasive.
Even through the post-quali interviews!

For this qualifying session, the U.S. had better coverage than Canada!




The Captain

I was really surprised by that too. I’m still holding my excitement back a bit for the race tomorrow but boy do I hope they keep going with this no-comercial broadcast.

It got me thinking, my hunch is Liberty may have bought all the commercial spots themselves so it could be shown commercial free. I also kinda think the same thing is happening with the grid walk but either way I’ll take it.


And the race with absolutely no commercials! Have ESPN finally let pandora out!


I’m surprised by four things:
Ferrari qualy pace