When Valtteri Bottas joined Mercedes there was a lot of curiosity as to how the young and upcoming Finn would compare against Lewis Hamilton. People were expecting a more closer fight between the Silver Arrows than before, but for the opening two races Bottas had been playing second fiddle to the Brit.
And now finally under the floodlights of Bahrain, the Finn delivered and pipped Hamilton by a whisker. And Twitter spared no time to congratulate on his first pole.
Hamilton appeared to have the edge all through the session until the dying minutes of Q3 but Bottas was way closer than ever before and in the last run improved his previous time to take the pole by 0.023 seconds while Hamilton failed to improve.
Behind the Mercs, Ferraris were the main contenders with Vettel lining up P3 half a second down on poleman while Kimi got within 3 tenths of Vettel however ended up P5.
The real performer in Q3, however, was Danny Ric who took his Red Bull right up to P4 splitting the Ferraris and maintaining his record of being unbeaten by any of his team-mate in Bahrain.
Max Verstappen looked to be closer to the front runners from FP3 till Q3, however, he failed to live up to his promise and couldn’t improve on his final run ending up in P6.
Another star of the qualifying was Nico Hulkenberg who continued his stellar qualifying performance from China and took his Renault to P7 once again. Right from Q1 Hulkenberg produced a great amount of pace, finishing Q1 and Q2 nearer to P5 and in Q3 ended up as best of the rest only a second down on poleman Bottas. His teammate Palmer struggled on the other hand barely making it from one session to another but nevertheless closing the gap to his vastly experienced teammate and ended up in P10
Massa lined up 8th followed by Grosjean in P9.
For the Torro Rosso, it was a bad day indeed as Kvyat could only manage P11 and Sainz who looked set to make it to Q2 lost power on his final run in Q1 bringing out the yellow flags that caught out a lot of drivers and Sainz went out of Q1 in P16.
Lance Stroll ended up in P12 going out of Q2
Having missed the first 2 races, Wehrlein received a lot of flak, but he silenced his critics in the best way possible by turning up for Bahrain and out-qualifying his more experienced teammate and taking that Sauber in P13! in reminiscence of his Manor days.
Behind him in P14 is fellow Mercedes young driver program member Esteban Ocon in the Force India followed by Fernando Alonso in P15 who made it to Q2 but couldn’t put in a single lap courtesy engine woes.
A lot of drivers got caught out in Q1 because of Sainz’s stopping in the last moments of Q1 bringing out the yellow flags when everyone was on a fast run. As a result, Sainz ended up P16 with Vandoorne lining up behind him, a clear disappointment for the Belgian compared to his last year’s efforts.
Perez got caught out too ending up in P18 and Magnussen too in P20 while Ericcson could only manage P19.
To round it up, this is the complete classification for today’s qualifying: