Vettel leads Ferrari 1-2 in Bahrain

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel takes pole position ahead of tomorrow’s race ahead of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and Mercedes Valterri Bottas as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen crashes in Q1.

07/04/18

Ahead of his 200th GP start, Sebastian Vettel will be on pole. A comment which has not looked likely the whole weekend. Vettel had been behind team-mate Kimi Raikkonen all weekend so far and it was very likely that it would be the Finn who would grab pole. After a mistake on his first Q3 lap, he bounced back on his second lap to nick pole off of Raikkonen. It was meant for Raikkonen to get pole. He had been Ferrari’s number 1 drivers all weekend but he couldn’t improve on his second lap in Q3 which ultimately cost him pole.

Both Ferrari’s look in great form and with the likes of Lewis Hamilton, who incurs a 5 place grid penalty and Max Verstappen’s Q1 crash, it leaves Valterri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo so see if they can stop the Scuderia.

It has not a weekend to remember for Mercedes so far. Both Bottas and Hamilton have struggled with the handling of the W09 and have struggled with tyre temperatures. It was important for Bottas to qualify high in order for Mercedes to fight with Ferrari with Hamilton being on the back foot. It was announced on Friday night that Hamilton would take a 5 place grid penalty for a gearbox change and by qualifying 4th, he’ll start 9th for Sunday’s race. Don’t count the Mercedes duo out yet as Hamilton will start on the Soft compound tyre with the rest of the “top-flight” starting on the Supersoft tyre.

It was a mixed day for the Red Bull guys. Daniel Ricciardo did his best to keep up the Ferrari’s and Mercedes and ended up 5th and under 2 tenths behind Hamilton in 4th. Max Verstappen on the other hand wasn’t quite as fortunate. The Dutchman lost control coming out of Turn 2, ending up in the barrier – nose first in the first part of Qualifying and causing a red flag. He’s got a lot of work to do from 15th on the grid.

The surprise of the weekend and season so far was the performance of Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly. Gasly made it into Q3 and was just 1.371 seconds off of pole position. The Frenchman, who has had previous success in Bahrain in F2, has been ahead team-mate Brendon Hartley all weekend. Both were running an updated aero package for the weekend. With Hartley in 11th, points will be on offer on Sunday.

Kevin Magnussen was the only Haas car in Q3 and will line-up in 6th after Hamilton’s penalty. Magnussen’s team-mate, Romain Grosjean, had a much more disappointing session after his one and only run after the red flag was the exact time of Fernando Alonso’s. But because Alonso had set his time first, Grosjean ended up 16th and out of Qualifying. Haas will be hoping for a trouble-free race after their disaster in Melbourne.

Nico Hulkenberg won the intra-team battle at Renault ahead of team-mate Carlos Sainz. The pair was split by the Force India of Ocon and points will be on offer on Sunday if they both can survive the mid-field scrap.

The other “star of the day” has to go to Force India’s Esteban Ocon who made it to Q3. Ocon out-qualified team-mate Sergio Perez, Hartley’s Toro Rosso and the Renault of Sainz to go 9th. Perez qualified 12th ahead of both McLaren’s and both will be eager to get Force India’s first points of the season tomorrow.

The relative pace of the Toro Rosso’s shines the spotlight on McLaren. After ditching Honda engines at the end of last season, McLaren for the first time in 2018, were out-qualified by both Honda powered Toro Rosso cars. Fernando Alonso was lucky to escape Q1 and heads team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne in 13th and 14th. An embarrassing result for the team at the home race of their main shareholders the Bahraini royal family.

Marcus Ericsson continued his good pace and was able to out-qualify team-mate Charles Leclerc. Ericsson will line-up in 16th while Leclerc will start in 18th but it could have been closer if Leclerc hasn’t had spun on his final lap in Q1 in which he called “a stupid mistake.”

It was a very disappointing and worrying session for the Williams team. Sergey Sirotkin was able to out-qualify more experienced team-mate Lance Stroll and Leclerc to 18th with Stroll in 20th. Williams hope to get both cars to the finish tomorrow.

Qualifying Result

  1. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:27:958
  2. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:28:101
  3. Valterri Bottas, Mercedes, 1:28:124
  4. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:28:220
  5. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1:28:398
  6. Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso, 1:29:329
  7. Kevin Magnussen, Haas, 1:29:358
  8. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, 1:29:570
  9. Esteban Ocon, Force India, 1:29:874
  10. Carlos Sainz, Renault, 1:29:986
  11. Brendon Hartley, Toro Rosso, 1:30:105
  12. Sergio Perez, Force India, 1:30:156
  13. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:30:212
  14. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, 1:30:525
  15. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, no times
  16. Romain Grosjean, Haas, 1:30:530
  17. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:31:063
  18. Sergey Sirotkin, Williams, 1:31:414
  19. Charles Leclerc, Sauber, 1:31:420
  20. Lance Stroll, Williams, 1:31:503

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