F1 2017 Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying result: Lewis Hamilton misses out on pole position
PUBLISHED: 19:20 15 April 2017 | UPDATED: 19:46 15 April 2017
Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.
Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton missed out on a third successive pole position this season in qualifying for the 2017 Bahrain Grand Prix but will still start the Sakhir race from the front row.
The 32-year-old F1 Mercedes driver from Hertfordshire was beaten to pole by Silver Arrows colleague Valtteri Bottas in only his third race for the team since replacing world champion Nico Rosberg.
The flying Finn clocked a Q3 lap of 1m 28.769s to deny Hamilton a hat-trick of 2017 poles by 0.023s in the provisional qualifying results.
Hamilton still beat the challenge presented by Ferrari as Mercedes completed a front row lockout in Bahrain.
Three-time world champion Hamilton recorded a time of 1m 28.792s to take second place on the Bahrain grid ahead of Sebastian Vettel.
Hamilton congratulated his Mercedes mate afterwards.
On his Instagram page, Lewis posted a picture of himself with Bottas and Vettel with the message: “A big congratulations to Valtteri on his first pole!! A big moment for him. Looking forward to a challenging race tomorrow in the desert heat! #repost @f1 @mercedesamgf1”
Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo will line-up on the second row alongside Vettel in fourth place, with Kimi Raikkonen fifth on the grid for Ferrari and Max Verstappen sixth quickest in qualifying.
Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, Williams driver Felipe Massa, Haas man Romain Grosjean and Jolyon Palmer in the second Renault completed the qualifying top 10.
Both Mercedes drivers completed a single run in Q1 on Soft tyres, a single run on the SuperSoft in Q2, then two runs on the SuperSoft in Q3 as Bottas claimed his first F1 career pole position at the Bahrain International Circuit.
He said: “I’m really happy with my first Formula One pole. It’s my fifth season in the sport now, so it took a few races.
“But we got it and hopefully it is the first of many. It feels good. I didn’t realise it’d been nearly 10 years since a Finn was last on pole.
“I’m very proud as always to drive for Finland and represent my country.”
Of his hot lap in the desert, Bottas said: “It’s not an easy track to get everything right. It’s quite a technical and there are a few tricky corners.
“But I’ve been getting more and more comfortable with the car and managed to get the lap together. Thankfully it was good enough for pole.”
Bottas will have Hamilton alongside him on the front row for his maiden pole.
“I just want to say a big thanks to the team for giving me this car,” said Bottas.
“It’s great that we’re both starting from the front row.
“We’ve done a really good job this weekend to focus on the evening conditions and really maximise the lap time in the car.
“We’ll enjoy this for a short period of time – but the main focus is the race tomorrow.
“There is no point to start dreaming just yet. It’s all about getting the maximum out of the race. As a team we can be really strong tomorrow.”
Hamilton was quick to admit his Mercedes rival was better in qualifying.
The Stevenage-born racer said: “A big congratulations to Valtteri. He’s been working so hard and he’s gelled so well with the team.
“Today he was just quicker than me and did the better job, so hats off to him on his first pole.
“My lap felt great but it was so close out there. I was losing quite a bit of time through the first sector, which is unusual as it’s usually a very strong sector for me.
“Overall it was a great battle and that’s exactly how close qualifying should always be. It forces us to be on the absolute limit.”
Hamilton added: “I’m happy with the job I did and it’s great for the team to lockout our first front row.
Today we had a bit of a margin over the Ferraris but generally in race trim they seem to be a bit quicker, so we expect them to be closer tomorrow.
“It’s definitely going to be tight. Looking after the tyres is difficult, so whether it is a one or two stop race will be interesting to see. Hopefully we’ll have a great battle tomorrow.”
Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, was delighted at claiming a one-two in Bahrain qualifying.
He said: “That’s a fantastic result in a really close qualifying session with some great competition between the drivers. I’m very pleased for Valtteri.
“It was a tough race last weekend in China but he has been chipping away at his qualifying performances and he did a great job this evening, finding the last few hundredths on his second run in Q3.
“As for Lewis, he couldn’t quite improve on that final run – but for the first time this season we have both cars on the front row of the grid.
“The gap to Ferrari looks pretty good here but their drivers were complaining of understeer, so perhaps they have gone with more of a race set-up in mind.
“And then there’s Red Bull. You always have to have them on the radar because they have all the resources they need to be fighting at the front.
“Tomorrow’s race will be all about surviving on the tyres and making the right decisions in terms of strategy.
“We’re starting from the best possible positions and we now need to get the heads down and work hard to convert it into podium finishes tomorrow.”
James Allison, the team’s technical director, added: “It’s lovely to have a front-row lockout and it’s a great reward to Valtteri for three excellent laps in qualifying today. We are all really happy.
“The gap to Ferrari is a little larger than in the first two races but rather than being surprised we’re just grateful for that small bit of breathing space.
“It will be different again tomorrow when everyone has their cars full of fuel – then we are sure to have our work cut out.
“We’re expecting the weather to change a fair bit for tomorrow, both windier and cooler. But it will be normal fare for Bahrain – tough on the brakes, tough on the drivers. It’ll be a long, hard toil, but hopefully we’ll end up at the front. It’s going to be super tight.”