RUSSELL PIPPED TO POLE BY BOTTAS IN SAKHIR QUALIFYING
Talk of a pole position for George Russell was rife ahead of qualifying for the Sakhir Grand Prix, and for good reason. Russell had excelled in the Mercedes in Friday practice posting the fastest time in both sessions. Could the Mercedes Academy driver, and Williams No.1 beat Bottas and the rest of the field to take pole?
As it turned out it wasn’t to be, as Valtteri Bottas edged Russell to pole position. Bottas, assuming the mantle of senior driver for this race, was just 0.026 seconds quicker than Russell with Max Verstappen in the Red Bull just 0.03secs behind Russell in third place.
It was also a good day for Ferrari with Charles Leclerc taking a surprise P4 just 0.3secs behind Bottas. Racing Point’s Sergio Perez again proved he deserves a drive next season at one point topping the timings in Q3 and finishing the session in P5 with Danny Kvyat in the Alpha Tauri, showing again that he is far from passed his peak in P6 pushing Daniel Ricciardo intro P7 and Carlos Sainz P8. The top 10 was completed with Pierre Gasly and Lance Stroll taking P9 and P10 respectively.
Further down the grid Alex Albon in P12 will hope he can pull another great drive out of the bag at the Bahrain Circuit and maintain the argument for him to keep the seat at Red Bull for 2021.
Lando Norris will be disappointed with his qualifying performance following a mix up which meant he failed to register a time in Q2. Jack Aitken will likely be slightly disappointed also not beating his teammate Latifi in Q1, being slower by just 0.096 seconds, but pleased to be beating fellow F1 debutant, Pietro Fittipaldi who was standing in for Romain Grosjean at Haas after the Frenchman’s crash last Sunday.
Following qualifying the driver shared their thoughts on the session.
Russell said: “It has been incredibly intense, so much to learn, getting used to the car, seat, everything. It felt really alien to begin with. A different way of driving, trying to unlearn what I learnt at Williams and learn how to drive this car fast. I got a few things wrong in P3 and would have been happy just to get into Q3 at that stage but got it all together in Q3. Valtteri has pushed Lewis incredibly close over the years and to be this close behind Valtteri coming in with two days’ prep, I’m delighted.”
Bottas said: “It is a different situation to have a different teammate, but I just wanted to focus on what I was doing and not waste energy on anything else. Strategy-wise we are in a good place and It is good to see George on the front row. Not my best qualifying but I am happy with pole.”
Leclerc said he was “extremely happy” to be starting fourth on the grid Leclerc’s performance was arguably the stand-out moment of qualifying.
HOW THE GRID SHAPES UP
- Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
- George Russell (Mercedes)
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
- Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
- Sergio Perez (Racing Point)
- Daniil Kvyat (Alpha Tauri)
- Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)
- Carlos Sainz (McLaren)
- Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri)
- Lance Stroll (Racing Point)
- Esteban Ocon (Renault)
- Alex Albon (Red Bull)
- Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
- Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)
- Lando Norris (McLaren)
- Kevin Magussen (Haas)
- Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
- Jack Aitken (Williams)
- Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
- Pietro Fittipaldi (Haas)
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