Can Bottas beat the points leaders for his first win?

2017 Bahrain Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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A breakthrough pole position for Valtteri Bottas in Bahrain has added a new dimension to a championship fight which had seemed to be a two-man contest.

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel are proving difficult to separate. Not only are they tied at the top of the points standings but for the third race this year but they have qualified in consecutive places. But this time both of them are lined up behind Bottas. How is this going to play out?

2017 Bahrain GP qualifying in pictures
One scenario we should be able to exlcude from the off is a repeat of last year’s turn one collision between Hamilton and Bottas, when they drove for different teams. Facing a real threat from Ferrari’s race stint pace, the team will be anxious to maintain that advantage at the start. Keeping Vettel contained will be the priority, even at the expense of letting, say, Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull through.

In Australia and China the drivers had comparatively short runs from the grid into relatively quick corners, offering limited scope for position changes. Here they have a 265-metre dash to a very tight first corner, followed by a long straight to another slow turn. This is not a good place to make a bad start.

If Mercedes have stil got two cars at the front at the end of lap one it will considerably increase their chances of getting at least one to the chequered flag first. But Ferrari’s late-stint pace is surely going to put them under pressure.

The durability of the super-soft tyres will play a decisive role in terms of strategy. According to Pirelli, if they last as long as 24 laps a one-stop strategy becomes fearsible. This will obviously be harder for those in the top ten who are required to start on used tyres.

If they don’t make it that far, team may be forced to run either a second stint on super-softs followed by a final stint on softs, or two stints on softs, to get to the flag. However only half the drivers in the top ten have a fresh set of super-softs in the garage: the Mercedes drivers, the Red Bull pair and Vettel (Raikkonen used an extra set in Q1).

On a circuit which has usually proved a good venue for overtaking, and with no chance of rain, this should be another interesting test of F1’s new rules.

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Qualifying times in full


Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Valtteri BottasMercedes1’31.0411’29.555 (-1.486)1’28.769 (-0.786)
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’30.8141’29.535 (-1.279)1’28.792 (-0.743)
3Sebastian VettelFerrari1’31.0371’29.596 (-1.441)1’29.247 (-0.349)
4Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’31.6671’30.497 (-1.170)1’29.545 (-0.952)
5Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’30.9881’29.843 (-1.145)1’29.567 (-0.276)
6Max VerstappenRed Bull1’30.9041’30.307 (-0.597)1’29.687 (-0.620)
7Nico HulkenbergRenault1’31.0571’30.169 (-0.888)1’29.842 (-0.327)
8Felipe MassaWilliams1’31.3731’30.677 (-0.696)1’30.074 (-0.603)
9Romain GrosjeanHaas1’31.6911’30.857 (-0.834)1’30.763 (-0.094)
10Jolyon PalmerRenault1’31.4581’30.899 (-0.559)1’31.074 (+0.175)
11Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1’31.5311’30.923 (-0.608)
12Lance StrollWilliams1’31.7481’31.168 (-0.580)
13Pascal WehrleinSauber1’31.9951’31.414 (-0.581)
14Esteban OconForce India1’31.7741’31.684 (-0.090)
15Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1’32.054
16Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso1’32.118
17Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren1’32.313
18Sergio PerezForce India1’32.318
19Marcus EricssonSauber1’32.543
20Kevin MagnussenHaas1’32.900

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Valtteri Bottas28.284 (1)38.299 (2)22.180 (2)
Lewis Hamilton28.316 (2)38.262 (1)22.156 (1)
Sebastian Vettel28.499 (3)38.369 (3)22.294 (3)
Daniel Ricciardo28.651 (6)38.512 (5)22.382 (4)
Kimi Raikkonen28.552 (4)38.509 (4)22.427 (5)
Max Verstappen28.638 (5)38.539 (6)22.510 (7)
Nico Hulkenberg28.671 (7)38.679 (7)22.492 (6)
Felipe Massa28.825 (8)38.687 (8)22.553 (8)
Romain Grosjean28.885 (10)39.126 (12)22.729 (10)
Jolyon Palmer29.182 (13)39.067 (9)22.618 (9)
Daniil Kvyat28.832 (9)39.111 (10)22.766 (11)
Lance Stroll29.261 (15)39.116 (11)22.775 (12)
Pascal Wehrlein29.047 (12)39.535 (16)22.832 (13)
Esteban Ocon29.273 (16)39.457 (14)22.921 (14)
Fernando Alonso29.250 (14)39.551 (17)23.018 (15)
Carlos Sainz Jnr28.958 (11)39.349 (13)23.054 (16)
Stoffel Vandoorne29.513 (19)39.682 (19)23.118 (17)
Sergio Perez29.290 (17)39.489 (15)23.254 (19)
Marcus Ericsson29.544 (20)39.846 (20)23.153 (18)
Kevin Magnussen29.338 (18)39.625 (18)23.333 (20)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Lance StrollWilliamsMercedes333.3 (207.1)
2Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes331.0 (205.7)-2.3
3Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari330.5 (205.4)-2.8
4Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes330.3 (205.2)-3.0
5Nico HulkenbergRenaultRenault329.9 (205.0)-3.4
6Felipe MassaWilliamsMercedes329.7 (204.9)-3.6
7Kevin MagnussenHaasFerrari329.4 (204.7)-3.9
8Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari329.3 (204.6)-4.0
9Pascal WehrleinSauberFerrari329.1 (204.5)-4.2
10Valtteri BottasMercedesMercedes328.6 (204.2)-4.7
11Esteban OconForce IndiaMercedes327.8 (203.7)-5.5
12Romain GrosjeanHaasFerrari325.9 (202.5)-7.4
13Max VerstappenRed BullTAG Heuer324.7 (201.8)-8.6
14Marcus EricssonSauberFerrari324.6 (201.7)-8.7
15Carlos Sainz JnrToro RossoRenault324.4 (201.6)-8.9
16Daniel RicciardoRed BullTAG Heuer322.9 (200.6)-10.4
17Daniil KvyatToro RossoRenault322.4 (200.3)-10.9
18Jolyon PalmerRenaultRenault322.2 (200.2)-11.1
19Fernando AlonsoMcLarenHonda321.5 (199.8)-11.8
20Stoffel VandoorneMcLarenHonda319.3 (198.4)-14.0

Over to you

Will Valtteri Bottas turn his first pole position into his first race victory? Do the Red Bulls have the pace to reach the podium again?

Share your views on the Bahrain Grand Prix in the comments.

2017 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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39 comments on “Can Bottas beat the points leaders for his first win?”

  1. Why has Bottas gone with a higher downforce setup than Lewis again?? When Nico and Lewis were together, they are always close to each other on the speed traps…

    1. you think 2.4kph difference is that? not convinced

      1. @ivan-vinitskyy Agreed, a slightly better corner exit can achieve this or a slight drag from another car as well.

        1. @addvariety, and on that point, a number of commentators noted that Hamilton generally seemed to be carrying slightly more speed through the final corner and onto the main straight than Bottas was, which may well be enough to explain why Hamilton was fractionally faster on the main straight.

  2. 88.763 – Bot best time
    88.734 – Ham best time

    We’ll have to wait a bit longer until Bottas can beat Ham purely on pace in quali

    1. ??? He did beat Lewis on pace he is on pole. Best sector times added up only matter if they occur in the same lap.

    2. What are you talking about? Q3 is when it counts, he just did beat him.

    3. what is wrong with you? Bottas got pole, and you still deny him the pole… geez, some people!

      1. Lmao and you invented a pole for him too so I guess it balances out

        Kpcart: By the way, did you miss it when bottas got pole in a Williams vs Mercedes? His one opportunity and he took it!

    4. @ivan-vinitskyy It’s not the best time until all those sectors are on the same lap. Full laps matter not sectors(they weren’t even counted until the 90’s), sectors are there just for the fans and scoring purposes. You either stitch them together for a good lap or you don’t, simple as that.

  3. It will be a three-way fight between the two best drivers of this moment and someone who is quite close. If Bottas can keep his position at the start, then I don’t see anyone get past.

    Based on the speed traps the Mercedes engine is still the strongest, but Ferrari and Renault are not that far off. It seems that the “low-drag” Red Bulls are running more wing than the surprisingly quick Hülkenberg. Even the 2016-spec Ferrari is not that slow, at least compared to the Honda engine.

    Highest top speed per engine:
    Mercedes – 333.3 kph
    Ferrari – 330.5 kph
    Renault – 329.9 kph
    Ferrari (2016) – 329.1 kph
    Honda – 321.5 kph

  4. “However only half the drivers in the top ten have a fresh set of super-softs in the garage: the Mercedes drivers, the Red Bull pair and Vettel (Raikkonen used an extra set in Q1).”

    Yes, Raikkonnen used an extra set in Q1 (unnecessarily!), but at least according to the onscreen graphic, he used the same set again in Q2. So at the start he will have a tyre that has seen three more laps than the others but he should then still have a fresh tyre – right?

    1. No, that was just an error on the onscreen graphic. He used new set of supersofts in Q2.

  5. It will come down to who leads out of turn 1 and then pit strategy after that. If Bottas gets a good start and is leading after the first turn he has a good chance to get his first win.

  6. One scenario we should be able to exclude from the off is a repeat of last year’s turn one collision between Hamilton and Bottas

    Maybe, but I’m fairly certain if Hamilton gets a good start he’ll be focused 100% on taking the lead and not on what’s happening behind. He’ll want to test Bottas to see how he reacts.

  7. I don’t see Bottas leading by the end of lap 1 tbh.

    I’ve never been a fan of Ham, but credit where it’s due he looks sharp this year. He’s confident and that’s dangerous for everybody else. I’m pretty sure Bottas will receive the same treatment Ros did here and the road will get very narrow in front of car 77.

    1. @johnnik I’d be interested to know if Valtteri would react in the same way Rosberg did to Hamilton’s driving (which in my opinion was sometimes a poor display of sportsmanship by Hamilton, although many may reasonably disagree) by avoiding a collision even if it costs him the place, or would Valtteri allow Hamilton to cause a crash?

      1. Would be a great introduction if he just let them crash. Rosberg, for all his strengths, was too soft at the beginning and let Hamilton bully him, he lost the game of chicken. If Bottas, who clearly is (much) closer to the pace of Hamilton than people anticipated, is to beat him or have a chance, he has to show the buck stops here. But he’s got a one year deal. Fascinating dilemma.

      2. Good points guys.

        Absolutely if the situation arises Bottas needs to stand his ground.
        He should go out to the white line and no further, if Ham keeps on squeezing then they crash.

        If he bends to then presssure and leaves the track then it’s game over, the psychological battle will be lost.

  8. Hoepfully Bottas and Hamilton will take each other out on Turn One and the race will be a real spectacle, not the expected procession.

    1. It’s certainly not expected to be a procession. Have you not seen a grand Prix in 2017 yet ?

    2. Are you really a racing fan … what a dumb statement.

    3. @Gigi – Victories won on pure merit and racing are sweeter to enjoy (and better to watch) than wins with other circumstances like this.

      I don’t care who wins, but I do want them to work for it and be challenged hard for it. I do hope Ferrari and (hopefully) Red Bull are up to providing the required challenge.

    4. If that happened Vettel would just win unchallenged though

  9. A likely scenario to me is both Hamilton and Vettel getting past Bottas on pit stops… and maybe Verstappen jumping to 4th with passes on the track… Ricciardo 5th… Kimi on the radio a lot about how the car is just not good enough…

    1. I love angry Kimi

  10. Sviatoslav (@)
    16th April 2017, 8:04

    No, Bottas will lose.

  11. Ferrari, Seb fan
    16th April 2017, 8:47

    I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure bottas would do well at the start of the season but he has a good chance now. If he wins this race and finishes on the podium the next 2-3 races, he could take the fight to Hamilton and vettel. Bottas needs to win this race to have any thoughts on winning the drivers championship.

  12. I hope Bottas can get his maiden win, not least because that would be three different winners in three races! primarily though watching a driver celebrate their first GP win is always a heartening experience.

  13. Worst scenario for everyone would be Ricciardo passing and hold Vettel and Mercedes disappear in lead.

    1. Yeah, I’m hoping for a BOT, HAM, VET fight for the win and a RIC, RAI, VES fight behind that. Also looking forward to Sainz on a charge from the back! And off course a Stroll spin/crash for a safetycar to spice things up.

    2. Evil Homer (@)
      16th April 2017, 14:46

      Not if you are Dan Ric fan😉

  14. “Championship fight” seems a bit generous after only two races. Vettel and Hamilton having the same number of points is nice, but I still recall similar excitement in 2015 – and look how that turned out.

    This grid is a great opportunity for Bottas. In some of the races the even spots looked to be a bit worse off the line, though that can change significantly throughout the weekend. If Vettel can snatch second from Hamilton it’ll be Bottas’ race to lose.

  15. Of course Bottas can win this race… The fact that he is in front of Hamilton in Q3 in his third race just shows that neither Rosberg or Hamilton were that special. You just need the right car.
    Put Vettel, Grosjean or Wehrlein in a Mercedes and they will match Hamilton’s pace.
    Put Ricciardo, Verstappen, Sainz in a Mercedes and they will probably be in front of him.
    Tired of seeing these grey cars in front so easily…

    1. Well not exactly. Sure a driver pretty much always needs the WCC car to win the WDC, but Merc didn’t just snap their fingers to be where they are. F1 is hard and they worked very hard to get to where all teams are always striving to be. Sure these other drivers you mention would thrive in a Merc, given some practice time. But so far VB has really only bested LH once. In quali yesterday. I think my point is that it is not nearly as easy as you are making it out to be. The best (in all sports) may make it look easy but that by no means makes it easy. Once drivers have the equipment then the pressure is there to not squander it.

    2. I bet you enjoyed the RBR dominance or have you conveniently forgotten that because it is Hamilton and Vettel.

      1. sorry poor grammar, I meant not Vettel

  16. Bottas to build a lead and win leaving Hamilton to hold off vettel and extend his lead at the top of the championship. Mercedes will surely be looking at this as a great chance to get a 1-2 and consolidate their position in the constructors championship too.

  17. Evil Homer (@)
    16th April 2017, 14:47

    Bottas for his first win !!

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