In Saturday’s qualifying session of the first every Sakhir Grand Prix, Mercedes claimed a front-row lockout. But this time, Lewis Hamilton was not involved. Valtteri Bottas has claimed pole position for the race, but Williams driver — George Russell, who has been called upon to fill in for Hamilton who tested positive for Covid 19, did a highly impressive job. With Russell claiming the second spot on the grid, Max Verstappen in the Red Bull will start from third on the grid. While the race will again be held at the Bahrain International Circuit, the conventional layout has been dropped for a faster oval layout with just 11 corners. Due to which, the fastest time set by Bottas was an impressive 53.377 seconds. Filling in for Russell at Williams is Jack Aitken while Pietro Fittipaldi is racing for Haas, stepping in for the injured Romain Grosjean following the horrific crash last weekend.
With two new drivers subbing in at Williams and Haas, the first session of qualifying in Q2 say the five slowest drivers not making it through to Q2. The Haas of Kevin Magnussen was 16th fastest with Nicolas Latifi being the fastest Williams this weekend who will slot in 17th on the grid. Filling in for George Russell in the Williams, Jack Aitken being the least experienced driver out qualified Kimi Raikkonen who is the most experienced driver in F1 history. Aitken will start from 18th with Raikkonen in 19th for Alfa Romeo. Alongside him will be Haas reserve driver – Pietro Fittipaldi, the grandson of Emerson Fittipaldi, who is substituting for Romain Grosjean will start from the back in 20th place on the grid.
The Medium compound tyre was said to be the ideal race tyre. So it was the optimal choice for all to use in Q2. The regulations state that top 10 in Q2, would start the race on the same tyres. Initially, Sergio Perez set the pace in the Racing Point in Q2. But on their final hot laps in Q2, only the two Mercedes cars of Russell and Bottas were on the medium tyres. Meaning Verstappen set the fastest time on the soft tyres with which he will start the race, with Perez and Bottas less than 2 tenths slower. But the five slowest drivers were Esteban Ocon in the Renault will start from 11th. Alex Albon in the Red Bull will start alongside in 12th. Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari was unable to make it through to Q3 and will start from 13th ahead of Antonio GIovinazzi in the Alfa Romeo in 14th, Lando Norris, following a poor qualifying will start 15th on the grid.
With nothing to lose in the final qualifying session, it was Verstappen in the Red Bull who set the pace with the fastest time. But Mercedes decided to opt for a three-run session with Bottas taking provisional pole and George Russell was second fastest lest than a tenth slower on fresh sets of soft tyres for both drivers. On their final runs, Bottas failed to improve on that time, but Russell was not able to better Bottas and missed out on pole by the slightest of margins. With Mercedes claiming the front row lock-out Verstappen was also unable to better either Mercedes driver and was third fastest.
With Verstappen in third, Charles Leclerc with a single run in Q3 called it a day after setting a time in the Ferrari which was good for fourth place on the grid. Perez will start from fifth sharing the third row with Daniil Kvyat in the AlphaTauri. Daniel Ricciardo will start from seventh for Renault ahead of Carlos Sainz eighth on the grid in the McLaren. Pierre Gasly will start the race from ninth in the second AlphaTauri and Lance Stroll to start from 10th on the grid for the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix.
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