Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel has qualified on pole position for tomorrow’s Bahrain Grand Prix, followed by teammate Kimi Raikkonen, with Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas qualifying third.
The Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc were the first out in this qualifying session, as night was drawing in and the track rapidly cooling.
The first noticeable part of Q1 was when Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley had to unexpectedly return to the pits after his front wing was damaged by a bird colliding with his car.
Another significant moment of the session was when Red Bull’s Max Verstappen hit the barriers at the exit of Turn 2 after losing the back end of the car in the apex and sliding into the barriers front first. This brought about a red flag to the session and meant that an angry Verstappen had to end his bid for qualifying, and will start 15th on the grid.
The end of Q1 was busy as cars were rushing to get a good lap in to secure a place in Q2 with the remaining time in the session.
OUT in Q1:
In a session where most cars opted to go out on the supersoft tyre (as the one they set the fastest lap in Q2 on will be the one they start the race on in they make it into Q3), Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton opted for the soft tyre, which can be explained by his grid penalty, so he would want to begin the race with a longer tyre stint.
Force India’s Sergio Perez pitted unexpectedly as his battery pack was running low on power, affecting the car’s performance.
Q2 was disappointing for both McLarens, who failed to make it into Q3, unlike Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly.
OUT in Q2:
Max Verstappen [time not set]
Vettel was one of the first back onto the track, setting the pace for the rest of the grid to follow, however, went wide in the final sector, enabling Raikkonen to grasp provisional pole.
With 3/10ths covering the top five, all was to play for in the final few minutes of the session.
Vettel set a fast lap, beating Raikkonen’s time, which anyone else was unable to beat, as he secured pole and the first Ferrari front-row lock-out in Bahrain this decade.
A special mention also goes out to Gasly, who managed to qualify in sixth (and he will start fifth due to Hamilton’s penalty), which is the best result achieved by a Honda engine since the start of the hybrid era, and considering this is Gasly’s first Formula 1 race in Bahrain, this is a considerable achievement.