Bottas pips Mercedes stand-in Russell to Sakhir GP pole

Verstappen 3rd, Leclerc 4th

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By Olivier Ferret

5 December 2020 - 19:09
Bottas pips Mercedes stand-in (...)

Valtteri Bottas took his fourth pole position of the year by edging new Mercedes team-mate George Russell by just 0.026s in qualifying for the Sakhir Grand Prix as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took third just three hundredths of a second further back.

In Q1 Verstappen was one of the last to take to the track but when he did the Dutchman quickly jumped to the top of the timesheet with a lap of 0:54.037. That remained the benchmark for the bulk of the session, but late in the session Bottas bolted on a set of soft tyres and on the4 red-banded rubber he was able to claim top spot a little over a tenth ahead of the Red Bull driver.

Behind Russell was third ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris who had to make a late charge after having an early run deleted for infringing track limits. AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly took fifth place ahead of Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez and the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.

There was a slightly nervous end to the segment for second Red Bull driver Alex Albon, however. Banking on the safety of his early time of 54.620 his team kept him the garage on the final run and as rivals’ final times came in the Thai driver fell down the order. Fortunately his fall halted at P15 and he went through to Q2 eight hundredths of a second ahead of the first driver eliminated, Kevin Magnussen.

Alongside the Haas driver, Williams pair Nicholas Latifi and Jack Aitken, Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen and Haas’ Pietro Fittipaldi.

In the second segment the Mercedes drivers, both Red Bulls and the Ferrari drievrs went out on medium tyres but while their initial times looked good, the gaps were too tight and in the closing stages every car went out on track again to try to ensure progress.

After moving to soft tyres, Verstappen jumped to the top of table with a lap of 53.647, a time that would hold good until the chequered flag. Behind him Pérez took second place ahead of Bottas, Sainz and Russell. Leclerc went through in sixth place ahead of Kvyat, Ricciardo and Gasly.

Out, though, went Renault’s Esteban Ocon and two hundredths of a second behind him, Alex Albon. The Thai driver had a poor second sector on his final flying lap and as the lap ebbed away he could find no improvement in the final stretch and so was eliminated in P12 ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi and the McLaren of Lando Norris.

In Q3 Verstappen initially claimed provisional pole with a lap of 53.591 with Leclerc putting in a superb lap to take a provisional front row spot. Both Mercedes drivers had run worn softs tyres on their opening run however and a second run on new rubber pushed both Bottas and Russell ahead of Verstappen. In the end Bottas’ second run time of 53.377 was good enough to take pole but while the Finn couldn’t improve on his third run it briefly looked like Verstappen might challenge it. The Dutchman set the fastest third sector but it wasn’t enough as Russell also improved and in the end Max took third place 0.026s behind Russell and just 0.056s off pole.

Behind the top three Leclerc’s time ended up being good enough for fourth and the Ferrari driver will start ahead of Pérez, Kvyat, Ricciardo, Sainz, Gasly and Stroll.

Pos.DriverTeamQ1 timeQ2 timeQ3 time
01 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes W11 53.904 53.803 53.377
02 George Russell Mercedes W11 54.160 53.819 53.403
03 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda RB16 54.037 53.647 53.433
04 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF1000 54.249 53.825 53.613
05 Sergio Perez Racing Point Mercedes RP20 54.236 53.787 53.790
06 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri Honda AT01 54.346 53.856 53.906
07 Daniel Ricciardo Renault RS20 54.388 53.871 53.957
08 Carlos Sainz McLaren Renault MCL35 54.450 53.818 54.010
09 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Honda AT01 54.207 53.941 54.154
10 Lance Stroll Racing Point Mercedes RP20 54.595 53.840 54.200
---------------- --------------- ---------- ---------- ----------
11 Esteban Ocon Renault RS20 54.309 53.995
12 Alex Albon Red Bull Honda RB16 54.620 54.026
13 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari SF1000 54.301 54.175
14 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari C39 54.523 54.377
15 Lando Norris McLaren Renault MCL35 54.194 54.693
---------------- --------------- ---------- ---------- ----------
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari VF-20 54.705
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes FW43 54.796
18 Jack Aitken Williams Mercedes FW43 54.892
19 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Ferrari C39 54.963
20 Pietro Fittipaldi Haas Ferrari VF-20 55.426

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