Bottas edges Hamilton to grab first pole position

2017 Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying

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Valtteri Bottas took the first pole position of his career and led Mercedes’ first front row lock-out of 2017 in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

There was almost nothing to choose between the two Mercedes drivers throughout qualifying as they kept Sebastian Vettel off the front row of the grid for the first time this year.


Following his crash in final practice, Romain Grosjean’s frustrations continued in the opening minutes of Q1. The Haas driver outbraked himself at the first corner, spoiling his first run.

After his setback in China two weeks ago the team were wary of being caught out by a late yellow flag and decided to send him out with enough fuel for two final runs. It proved a smart move. He secured a place in Q2 with his first run before Carlos Sainz Jnr stopped and brought out the yellow flags, spoiling several drivers’ laps.

First among those was Sainz himself, who had set the fastest time of all in the first sector before his Toro Rosso came to a stop. Behind him Kevin Magnussen and Sergio Perez also had to scrap runs which could have got them into Q2.

Perez had already aggravated Kimi Raikkonen who ran wide while passing the Force India on his second run. Team mate Sebastian Vettel, plus the Mercedes and Red Bull pair, did not need to do another run.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16 Carlos Sainz Jnr Toro Rosso-Renault 1’32.118
17 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Honda 1’32.313
18 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1’32.318
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1’32.543
20 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1’32.900


It was close at the top between the front runners in the second part of qualifying. Hamilton, Bottas and Vettel all lapped the circuit in 1’29.5, the trio covered by by 61 thousandths of a second. Bottas, for his part, said he’d lost some time with a mistake.

Fernando Alonso was unable to run in the second session as McLaren suffered its latest power unit-related failure. That left 14 drivers vying for places in the final ten.

Williams briefly looked set to get both cars in the final ten as Lance Stroll took tenth with his final run. But he was bumped out by improvements from Jolyon Palmer and Grosjean, the latter sounding happy with his car for the first time all weekend.

Palmer’s improvement was enough to get him into Q3 but Nico Hulkenberg produced a significantly quicker lap than his team mate, ending the session in fifth place.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1’30.923
12 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 1’31.168
13 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber-Ferrari 1’31.414
14 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 1’31.684
15 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda


With their first runs in Q3, Mercedes drew clear of the Ferraris. Vettel scraped within half a second of the W08s, while Raikkonen lagged almost nine-tenths behind, complaining of understeer. It was close between the two silver cars, however, Hamilton leading his team mate by just five hundredths of a second.

It was nip-and-tuck on their final runs. Hamilton found some of his missing time in the first sector but lost it in the middle of the lap. He and Hamilton produced laps of 1’28.7, but Bottas nabbed his first pole position by just 23 thousnadths.

Behind the all-Mercedes front row Red Bull prevented Ferrari from sweeping the second row. Ricciardo snuck ahead of Raikkonen by 22 thousandths. Verstappen had to settle for sixth after behind held up by Massa.

Hulkenberg put him Renault in seventh, lapping well over a second faster than team mate Palmer. The pair were separated by Massa and Grosjean.

Top ten in Q3

1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1’28.769
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’28.792
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1’29.247
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-TAG Heuer 1’29.545
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1’29.567
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull-TAG Heuer 1’29.687
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1’29.842
8 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1’30.074
9 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1’30.763
10 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1’31.074

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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98 comments on “Bottas edges Hamilton to grab first pole position”

  1. if you wanna win…

  2. Alex McFarlane
    15th April 2017, 17:01

    Great performance from Valtteri! Will be interesting to see what kind of race pace he’ll have from the front.

    Also, first time we’ve seen the Merc open up a gap on the Ferrari. I think they’ll be close on race pace

    Shout out to Renault as well, really good achievement for them this weekend with Hulk looking back to his best and a big improvement from Jolyon.

  3. Ben (@chookie6018)
    15th April 2017, 17:01

    I’m really excited for the race. Congrats to Bottas, Ric & Hulkenberg. Also congrats to Palmer for getting to Q3 and still getting memed. Anyway I’m pumped for the race tomorrow.

  4. Hamilton said reliability doesn’t interfere his championship battle with Vettel – WELL Mr. Hamilton, another factor has arrived, BOTTAS – on the pace of Hamilton after only 3 races. Bottas is likely to win tomorrow, it is always easier from the front, and Bottas has been on Hamilton pace all weekend.

    1. 2014, Lewis won from 2nd
      2016 Rosberg won from 2nd

      Point, pole doesn’t guarantee that you’ll win.

      1. Am wondering if then if being on the dirty side of the track ie even numbered grid position is a disadvantage.

        1. It could actually be the best position to start in, because all you need to be is level heading into the braking zone, which gives the inside driver the apex of the corner. Only problem with that is, it’s a tight entry, so you’ll get on the gas later, compared to who is on the outside, which is the natural line for that corner.

          So if he’s able to be level, he’ll have to defend hard on the run up to T4.

    2. A strong Bottas is actually pretty good news for Lewis as it can place himself between him and Vettel. Unless Bottas starts beating Hamilton consistently, which is quite unlikely I would think. Surely it’s good news for the championship. Meanwhile Raikkonen is a ghost…

  5. Some really good news there.

    Bottas did an excellent job to edge Hamilton.

    Ricciardo answered Verstappens charge nicely.

    Hulkenberg have notice of intent.

    Massa proved that there’s life in the old boy.

    Grosjean made the Haas move.

    1. Verstappen was held up by Massa so his lap was compromised. He would’ve been quicker probably.

      of course this is part of the game but it’s not really an answer from RIC imo

      1. @anunaki True, but Ric’s improvement from all other sessions was vast.

      2. Micheal (@shakengandulf)
        15th April 2017, 21:21

        It really is.

      3. @anunaki With a faillure in qualy for Ric at Melbourne and a faillure for VER in China last week, this was basically the first head to head qualy this year: RIC beat Max.

        RIC beat Max last year something like 12-5 in qualy during the rounds they were together at RedBull, so it seems it’s continuing this way again. Still early though.

        1. Looking at the development of Max one of the things that needed to improve this year is his qualifying.

          The way I see it he was faster in both Q1 and Q2 and he was held up in Q3 but still very close. To me it is clear he would’ve beaten RIC without that.

          In the end only the results count of course. But the progress is there I think.

          Let’s see what race day brings. I hope that Max will beat his teammate. Especially since RIC is a very fast driver.

          I’m a Max fan but I got great respect for RIC as well

  6. 3 fantastic pole laps so far this season. Was hoping Ferrari would be closer, but in the temperatures with their better tyre wear I wouldn’t count them out. Great job from Bottas, showing that he is quick, and proving his doubters wrong. Hulkenberg destroys Palmer again, despite Palmer getting into Q3.

    1. Hulkenburg was expected to beat Palmer, and it is happening. Palmer has the “talk” of a British private school scholar, but has never had the perfromance.

      1. Aye, but I don’t think people expected to be quite such a big gap. Personally I did because I’m a Hulkenberg fan, and am fed up of Palmer’s petulance in blaming the car for everything, but still, it’s a big gap between two team mates, consistently biggest on the grid so far in fact

    2. Thank god somebody else can see it – all that’s being said about Palmer is that he’s done well to get into Q3 but the gap between him and Hulkenburg is ridiculous. What it does say to me though is if even Palmer can get into Q3 that Renault must be pretty decent

      1. I was willing to give the benefit of the doubt regarding Palmer over last year, but, Hulk is proving that this year there is performance. Palmer must start showing that he has the capability to compete at this level or he will lose his drive, he made a good start today, but, must show it going forwards that he has ability.

        1. Palmer doesn’t have the ability. Ironically his first Q3 helps prove it

  7. Starting to seriously like Bottas

    1. I’d bone

  8. That part about Verstappen getting held up by Massa – was MAS on an in lap? There’s no other way he could have held VER up

    1. Max was held up just before he started his final fast lap. This cooled down his tyres

  9. Mercedes still has the ”turn switch for pole” option. Ferrari has made big steps but maximum power output Mercedes still is king. Let’s hope Vettel can make it a bit more difficult for them in the race.

    Raikkonen again far behind where he should be. I like the guy but as front runner material he’s lost it ever since coming back to Ferrari. Perez or Sainz for 2018 please .

    1. Renan Martinuzzo
      15th April 2017, 18:29

      Or Grosjean!

  10. The season’s 3rd race is here and RAI is still complaining about understeer. Shouldn’t Ferrari be on top of this by now ?

    1. Perhaps his car is set up more for the race than for qualifying. In the race the balance will be more neutral when the rear tires start to wear.

  11. Victor (@victorandrei1999)
    15th April 2017, 17:23

    Ferrari is back to their normal pace….. :)

    1. If you had any clue you’d realize this is entirely down to track configuration. Just compare the pole to last year’s pole – no significant difference, because there’s no fast corners, just straights and slow corners.
      There was simply no opportunity for Ferrari to show their superior fast cornering speed.

      1. What you mean there’s no fast corners?

        And what does track configuration has to do with the gap? Ferrari got beat by 5/10th, it’s that simple.

        Even Seb was surprised by the gap, as do nearly everyone.

        1. Well I wasn’t surprised..again, look at the China race and compare the pole positions from last and this year..HUGE difference because the cars now have much more downforce and they reach almost 2G higher cornering limit..but that only shows in fast corners.
          Bahrain otoh, is mostly straight line, chicanes and slow corners..hence this year’s cars are barely faster than last year’s.
          The track configuration is basically all about power!
          And Mercedes is faster on a straight line and through slow corners(more power and faster accelerarion on the exit) than Ferrari. It was obvious from the very first qualifications, just compare the laps side by side.

          1. clarify, from the very first qualifications in Australia.
            Mercedes pulls ahead on straights, Ferrari catches up on fast corners..but if a track is mostly about straight line, braking and acceleration on thd chicane exit, it only makes sense for the Mercedes to move further ahead..but you wait for some real tracks like Silverstone and Spa, and remember these words – Ferrari will be well ahead.

          2. ..also, if that didn’t made enough sense for you, here’s another irrefutable argument..the Red Bull.
            Their car is optimised for low drag and straight line, and they have relatively low downforce because of this.
            In China they were more than a second behind Ferrari, but in Bahrain, where downforce is far less important, they suddenly breathe right at Ferraris neck.

          3. So why weren’t the Ferrari’s the faster cars in S2?

            Silverstone & Spa are both power tracks

        2. At this point you sound like you either don’t know what you’re talking about or are just trolling me.
          As I’ve explained to you, Sakhir is a track where Ferraris greatest strenght (best lateral acceleration on the grid) becomes irrelevant because it’s not much more than a drag racing with some slow corners in between.
          Silverstone, Spa, Suzuka, Nurburgring, Barcelona, Malaysia, Mexico, USA, Brazil..those are tracks that have many high speed corners and where lateral dynamics are the most important thing..and that’s what Ferrari has built their machine for.

      2. Victor (@victorandrei1999)
        15th April 2017, 20:21

        You’re right, but what i said is that Ferrari every year starts the season very well and then they are falling. Last weekend in China Seb had no issues and now he is complaining of understeer and oversteer as Kimi does. It may be just my own opinion but I don’t think that Ferrari will have more than 3 wins this season.

        1. They will win the championships..but Hamilton just might edge out Vettel for drivers title because he’s the better driver imho.

  12. Bottas! What’s the point? It’s all about Lewis and Seb! They have the stats! If it were up to me I’d let them all join Alonso in Indycars apart from Lewis and Seb.

    1. Bottas can get plenty of stats now. He has the machinery to win every weekend. All he has to do is beat Vettel and Hamilton.

      1. But the most significant point of the day was that it takes the best car to be in front, not the best driver. Botas has talent, no doubt about that, but he was not one of the top 5 talented drivers around when they asked him fot this job. Then they put him in a Merc and he beats Hamilton and drives for pole. What does this say about the so much glorified talent of Hamilton….?

        1. lol it’s 1 pole position so far, stop making conclusions

  13. 0.7s improvement from last year, it shows just how important the engine is on this track. Therefore not surprised that Mercedes locked the front row. Still expect Ferrari to put some pressure tomorrow and give some troublea to Merc tactic wise.

  14. Anyone know why we haven’t seen the new qualifying graphics since Australia? I found them really informative to see real time progress for a driver throughout the lap, but they weren’t used in either China or Bahrain.

    1. Personally, I found them to be distracting. I would spend the most of the lap staring at tge graphic rather than at the car doing the actual qualifying run. I think it’d be something more useful for live timing rather than during the broadcast

      1. I agree with this.

  15. Pascal Wehrlein showing that he is no ordinary driver.
    First race with the team, coming back from very little testing and driving and already going to places Ericsson never achieved before.

    Together with Massa vs Stroll and Hulk vs Palmer, the most uneven team mates of the season.

    1. rio haryanto the rain god
      15th April 2017, 18:36

      i think he could beat hamilton

    2. Maybe, just maybe, a tad early with the laurels after a total of 1 (one) competitive sessions?

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        15th April 2017, 19:53

        Thank you @mrboerns
        I think it is silly that people are judging Wherlein as WAY better than Ericsson after a few practice sessions and qualifying. Far to early to decide. Both drivers had a stand out race last season and I think they’ll be fairly evenly matched this season. It’s not like Ericsson hasn’t made it into Q3. He managed that in both of the previous races this year. I think he also may have been caught out by the yellow flag earlier today which could have possibly cost him the change to get through.

    3. Ericsson’s and hence Sauber’s backers might not like pascal beating their boy up in the car they paid for. Will be interesting how they handle the situation going forawrd. I hope they don’t deprive Pascal of upgrades.

  16. hope he gets a good start tomorrow

  17. The reason why Ferrari is behind should be obvious, and is simple – the track configuration. Lots of straights and slow corners and not enough fast corners. Ferrari is superior to Mercedes only through fast corners

    1. Australia and China certainly were tracks that Ferrari was really good at but even there Mercedes proved to be to much in the qualifying … Ferrari has improved that’s for sure but I dont expect them to be too much of a threat because they don’t tend to develop the car mideseason. They will get some wins but I think it will be down to strategy like Australia ori some mechanical/driver errors

  18. Didn’t Bottas get pole position at Canada 2012 or 2013?

    1. 2013 was his debut year and he qualified 3rd

      1. Ah I see thanks for the info.

  19. This is the kind of performance by Lewis that makes me think “wouldn’t happen to Alonso” – same with Rosberg winning the title.

    1. 2007?
      Forget it, not worth the hassle of arguing the point.

      1. HAM has never outscored ALO over the course of a complete reason in comparable material, with or without Ron Dennis as team boss – no current driver has

        Forget it, not worth the hassle of arguing the point

        1. Hamilton beat him in 2007, “outscored” or not. And Alonso’s Ferrari’s were comparable to Mclaren and Red Bull in 2010 and 2012 in terms of pace and reliability. He did not win either title.

    2. Right, this would never have happened to Alonso… oh wait! It did happen to Alonso! He was outqualified by a rookie 10-7 in that rookie’s debut year in McLaren. And not only outqualified, but also beaten in the final standings.

      1. I’m pretty certain it wasn’t 10-7

        1. It was 6-2 to Hamilton I think, definetly not 10-7, Massa had a few and probably Raikonnen and it was a 17 race season.

          1. @ju88sy It terms of the head to head it was 8-7 to Hamilton (we can discount Hungary and France). In the races it was 10-7 to Alonso (including retirements), 9-6 if you exclude them.

      2. HAM has never outscored ALO over the course of a complete reason in comparable material, with or without Ron Dennis help – no current driver has.

        1. Alonso hasn’t won in over 4 years. Lewis has ALWAYS won every year.

        2. Yes. Jenson Button. And yes he is a current driver.

    3. @victor, there have been times when Alonso has come under pressure during his career too from his team mates – 2004 being one example, where he was being beaten by Trulli for much of the season (when Trulli was sacked after falling out with Briatore, Trulli was ahead of Alonso in the WDC at the time).

      1. HAM has never outscored ALO over the course of a complete reason in comparable material, with or without Ron Dennis help – no current driver has

    4. Wow Lewis gets outqualified and people start losing their minds and come up with phantom stories to criticise. Geez.

      I’m a Lewis fan and not even I expect him to beat and outqualify Bottas at every race.

      And by the way, Bottas has always gone well at this track and has never been outqualified by a teammate here. So well done to him, he was always going to pick up poles and win races, anyone who thought he wouldn’t, were kidding themselves.

      Lewis qualified second and he congratulated and was really happy for Bottas, why can’t that be enough?

      And as for the Alonso comparisons, really?

    5. @victor I’m an Alonso fan, but your comment is quite frankly unwarranted and stupid.

      1. That kind of comment is so weird that you have to think they must be trolling. They are more likely to be anti-fans of the same driver than a real fan lol.

    6. @victor You are clearly new into F1 don’t you, and then you think Alondo is a safe bet lol 😂😂 Alonso got outqualified by Hamilton in his 3rd race..

  20. Each group of drivers dropping out has the maximum amount of different engines possible.

    1. Well, since Sauber uses last year’s Ferraris, everyone eliminated in the Q3 has different engine. Force India and Williams have identical engines though.

  21. I swear the press has been touting Lewis’ run of poles, oh he’s so close to Senna, blah blah.. and he gets beaten by Bottas. You can close in on records if you’ve spent most of your career in competitive cars… he’s far from the best qualifier ever.

    1. In a competitive car?? For 3 years he’s had NO competition whatsoever- racking up the stats with a car a second a lap clear of the rest (And don’t get me started on Rosberg the mighty).

    2. yea ok so what youre saying is Senna and Schumi had their record run of poles in substandard equipment?? 88-91???!!!….00-04???!!!
      I give them credit for a part of their poles with poor cars but surely most of them were because the overall package of the
      car is superior. Stop trying to hark back to the Senna days or whatever glory days in your mind and be deluded to the notion that he was THE legend.
      Sure he was great in his time but for the majority of his successful years were with superior cars. Schumi was great during his time and he also had superior machinery to back it up. Ham is currently great in this period of time and he has
      his potato car poles during Mclaren to back him up.

    3. Senna never had competitive cars.

  22. SevenFiftySeven
    15th April 2017, 19:39

    Good to see some changes being made with regards to cherry picking commentary. Some win the argument even when silenced – power of democracy!

  23. The Hulk looks rejuvenated. This move to Renault is paying off already, not on results but on how he’s showing himself like he used to!

  24. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
    15th April 2017, 21:05

    Damn,i missed the pole in the predictions for 0.099!!Hopefully,Easter day with a lot of food,can be combined with an interesting race,to say the least!

  25. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
    15th April 2017, 21:26

    & ofcouse,congrats to Valtteri for his first pole!!!A race win will be difficult tomorrow and many will be decided on the start.Besides that,im curious to see the actual pace of Ferrari & RBR & the fight between Hulkenberg(left with 1 fresh soft & 1 fresh medium) vs Massa.

  26. Mark it down in your record books, it’s the first pole for VB. Watch this space!

  27. This would had been another Hamilton pole if he didn’t made the mistake in the second sector during his final lap. I’m sure Bottas would have been super close in second. Tomorrow is the important day anyway so Hamilton will win it easily.

    1. Hamilton was slower than Bottas in all three sectors on that lap, not just sector 2 where he made the mistake. They had been pretty equal in that sector previously so Bottas would probably still have edged ahead of Hamilton.

      1. No he wasn’t, what are you talking about?

      2. No he wasn’t, Hamilton was quicker in S1 (I think watching the timing he was green by a tiny margin), lost just over two tenths in S2 then set the fastest S3 to pull it back and close. Bottas had a beautiful error free final run across all sectors.

        1. @ju88sy Hamilton was green only to his previous effort, as Bottas’ time had not been logged at that time. The timing compares with current fastest lap only, not ongoing sectors.

  28. Hamilton was slower than Bottas in all three sectors on that lap, not just sector 2 where he made the mistake. They had been pretty equal in that sector previously so Bottas would probably still have edged ahead of Hamilton.

  29. Major props to Bottas for beating Hamilton, to RIC for splitting the Ferrari’s and to Hulkenberg and Massa for destroying their respective teammates.

    We’ve got an interesting grid for the race tomorrow for sure with Bottas infront of HAM, RAI being strong historically at Bahrain and VES being strong normally on race pace.

  30. Hamilton tussled with Verstappen on their outlap (overtaking each other a couple of times).

  31. Good on Bottas for his first pole! Makes it even better when you get the pole while going up against one of the best.

    Been a fan and supporter of Bottas since he came into F1 and glad he is taking advantage of his opportunity to show what he can do.

    For me it is a bonus that he also seems like a genuinely nice guy who would be a pleasure to have a pint with.

  32. if there was one track to beat Hamilton it was this one. Technical nature of the track narrows the range of racing lines and shifts the balance to what the car can do more than the driver. So pretty much putting together a good lap more than heroics will win you the pole here. And that’s exactly what Bottas did. On more freerer tracks normal service will resume.

    1. Good to read an insightful comment.

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