Bottas pips Russell to Sakhir pole by two-hundredths of a second

2020 Sakhir Grand Prix qualifying

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Valtteri Bottas narrowly beat his new Mercedes team mate George Russell to pole position on the Bahrain Outer circuit.

Max Verstappen will start behind them and Charles Leclerc surprised by qualifying his Ferrari in fourth place.

Q1

The first round of qualifying nearly tripped up Alexander Albon, who only made the cut to reach the second stage by eight hundredths of a seconds. Red Bull gambled against sending him out for a second run, a decision which narrowly paid off.

Lando Norris also had a tough time as he had to make an additional run after having one lap time struck for exceeding track limits at turn eight. The McLaren driver also secured his progression to Q2.

For the first time this weekend Valtteri Bottas headed a session, with two tenths of a second in hand over new team mate George Russell. The pair were split by Max Verstappen, who was well over half a second faster than his team mate in the other Red Bull.

Newcomer Pietro Fittipaldi, in his first race weekend for 10 months, unsurprisingly propped up the bottom of the times sheets, an outcome which meant his grid penalty for a power unit change made no difference. Fellow rookie Jack Aitken got his Williams ahead of Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo, and finished within a tenth of a second of his team mate.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari0’54.705
17Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes0’54.796
18Jack AitkenWilliams-Mercedes0’54.892
19Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari0’54.963
20Pietro FittipaldiHaas-Ferrari0’55.426

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Q2

Both Ferrari drivers made the cut for Q2 and both opted to run the medium tyres, hoping to avoid the potential strategic disadvantage of starting the race on soft tyres. Despite Sebastian Vettel having switched to an old engine (without penalty) since final practice, both lapped within a few hundredths of each other on their first runs.

But it was about to get much closer at the top. Bottas shaded Russell by just 16 thousandths of a second on their first runs, setting up the usual Mercedes one-two. Then Sergio Perez unexpectedly beat the pair of them, leading the times. Lance Stroll was only five-hundredths of a second in the other Racing Point, but in this incredibly quick session that proved enough only for fifth, as Carlos Sainz Jnr put his McLaren third.

The Ferrari pair went for another run on softs but only Leclerc completed his time, taking sixth. That was good enough to relegated Verstappen’s medium-shod Red Bull to seventh, fractionally quicker than Albon, despite his team mate using softs.

Norris, who was only 14th after his first run, led the field out for their final runs. But as he accelerated out of turn three he unexpectedly slowed, and let Stroll pass him. His team told him to begin another lap and get a tow from Antonio Giovinazzi ahead of him, but he abandoned his lap and pitted.

That doomed him to dropping out in Q2. Giovinazzi also went no further, and Vettel dropped out with them. Albon took another run on softs but couldn’t make the cut either. Verstappen gave up on trying to progress on the mediums and switched to softs, producing a quick enough lap to lead the times. That left the Mercedes drivers as the only ones to pass through Q2 on mediums.

Esteban Ocon was the last driver to miss the cut for Q3, Pierre Gasly beating him to the last place in the top 10 by 14 thousandths of a second.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Esteban OconRenault0’53.995
12Alexander AlbonRed Bull-Honda0’54.026
13Sebastian VettelFerrari0’54.175
14Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari0’54.377
15Lando NorrisMcLaren-Renault0’54.693

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Q3

It looked like business as usual for Mercedes after their first runs in Q3. Bottas led the way with nearly two-tenths of a second in hand over his team mate. However their times were only fractionally quicker than they’d managed in Q2, having run used tyres.

Verstappen displaced them from the top of the times with a 53.591 second lap. But an ever bigger surprise came from Leclerc, who planted his Ferrari in second, a mere 22 thousandths of a second slower than the Red Bull, and ahead of both Mercedes. “This lap was very good,” he admitted on the way in.

However Mercedes had a plan to take advantage of the unusually short track to make three runs in qualifying. Bottas and Russell were swiftly back out, this time with the track to themselves, and reasserted their supremacy, Bottas producing a 53.377.

But on his third and final run, Bottas couldn’t find any more time. Russell, running behind him, chipped away, and crossed the line a mere two-hundredths of a second off his team mate. It was a credible effort for his first time in a Mercedes, but it brought to an end his perfect record of out-qualifying his F1 team mates.

Verstappen slotted in behind them – a frustrating five-hundredths of a second shy – while Leclerc’s time was good enough for fourth. Perez and Kvyat jumped up to fifth and sixth with their last runs.

Top ten in Q3

1Valtteri BottasMercedes0’53.377
2George RussellMercedes0’53.403
3Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda0’53.433
4Charles LeclercFerrari0’53.613
5Sergio PerezRacing Point-Mercedes0’53.790
6Daniil KvyatAlphaTauri-Honda0’53.906
7Daniel RicciardoRenault0’53.957
8Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren-Renault0’54.010
9Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda0’54.154
10Lance StrollRacing Point-Mercedes0’54.200

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2020 Sakhir Grand Prix

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Author information

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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125 comments on “Bottas pips Russell to Sakhir pole by two-hundredths of a second”

  1. This is a bit embarrassing for everyone who has insisted that Lewis have been the crucial aspect of Mercs success. Now, George Russell might turn out to be a great, but this puts everything in the Merc saga of 2014-2020 in a bit of a perspective.

    1. There’s a reason why Lewis Hamilton did not finish any higher than fourth place for five consecutive seasons from 2009-2013

      It’s obvious that the car is the most important reason for his success.

      1. lexusreliability?
        5th December 2020, 21:07

        @kingshark

        It’s obvious that the car is the most important reason for his success.

        Hamilton is also the last driver to win the driver’s championship with a non constructors winning car. But, you have been an anti Hamilton voice on these boards for over a decade and you ain’t going to start being objective now.

      2. @kingshark are we now going to witness the inevitable backtracking, selective memory choices or flat out hypocrisy that comes with the inevitability that you will insist that “it must be the car” when it is a driver you dislike, but suddenly it will be all about driver skill when you want to insist that your favourite is successful because of talent alone?

        1. @anon
          The car has always been the most important factor in Formula 1. There are some rare special seasons where a driver truly outperforms the potential of their car by an incredible margin (Senna 1993, Schumacher 1996, Alonso 2012), but those are very rare.

      3. @kingshark is exactly right. Hamilton had a stellar 2007 and 2008, but after that he finished no higher than 4th in the WDC until he got into the most dominant cars in F1 history with Rosberg and Bottas as his ONLY competition.

        If all the Hamilton fans expect me to believe that he can go from no higher than 4th while his actual main rivals are driving comparable cars for FIVE YEARS, to all of a sudden coming 1st, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st and we’re all supposed to believe it’s got nothing to do with the car and everything to do with Hamilton being the greatest of all time?

        Give me a break! Anyone with 2 eyes and a partially functioning prefrontal cortex can see EXACTLY what happened. Hamilton is no doubt a great driver, but his results when he wasn’t driving a super dominant car reflect his real talent.

    2. Indeed. But wait for the incoming defenders.

    3. jeansilva02@hotmail.com
      5th December 2020, 21:10

      The current hybrid engines are probably the most complex technology ever mastered in Formula ….

      Being the largest manufacturer in F1- with the largest amount of employees allowed mercedes to dominate the technology before anyone else, this coupled with the huge restructions in tests made difficult for others teams to catch up ….

      The great merit on Hamilton was his decision to leave a winning mclaren (7 wins in 2012) and bet on newcomers mercedes …. what took a lot of courage in fact

      Let’s be honest that in a different universe where hulkenberg was called by mercedes in 2013 we would be celebrating him as a multi-champion, and rosberg as well ….

    4. Once Russell wins his first point in F1 we can discuss further

    5. Absolutely makes no sense, how can we say is not a Champion when he beat Bottas and Rosberg most of the time ?

      But if Vettel had Hamilton place in Mercedes era nobody will have stay to see it go thru, now anyone could have done Bottas job in the Merc

    6. Imagine if Leclerc was in the Mercedes. He pulled out a miracle time with one of the slowest cars in the field. That’s amazing!

  2. So close to comfort for Bottas but it was exciting!

  3. It is just qualifying and points are handed out tomorror. But..

    Russell: Jumps in to Mercedes and qualifies two hundrenths behind his teammate in just one race on a car designed for Hamilton and Bottas.

    Meanwhile at Red Bull: Albon has had an entire season and a half of a season with Red Bull to drive the car, and still has qualifying issues. Meh. Red Bull have some serious things to deal with.

    1. Good point. Redbull have a car which Max can just manage to drive, and haven’t really looked at why that is? The other driver is just suppose to deal with the shortfalls of the car.

    2. .026
      Not unknown for Lewis to lose out to Bottas with bigger margins. So, so far RUS is doing the same job no More no less.

      1. Well, he does it for about $34 million per year less, so there’s that.

        1. You forgotten HAM has won 11 races this year .

          He is missing a Grand Prix but won the WDC 3 races before the end.

      2. Lets wait for the race, its on Sundays that Hamilton excels. Max will be a big threat tomorrow

      3. lexusreliability?
        5th December 2020, 19:09

        @Rodber

        Not unknown for Lewis to lose out to Bottas with bigger margins

        Good way trying to spin that off politician style. Also not “unknown” for Bottas to lose by greater margins more often than not. Also, with this being a short track, I guess if this was the classic Bahrain track Russell would have been even further behind. So your point is, Russell is worse than Bottas who you somehow think is better than Hamilton?

        1. That particular poster has been acting in a way that suggests they have a particular agenda that they want to promote – first the digs that, apparently, it’s worthless being a champion without winning at Ferrari and the constant posting that Hamilton must move there (to the point where other posters were complaining about his behaviour coming off as persistent trolling), and now the continued digs at Bottas, at Russell and at Hamilton that are always trying to devalue, demean and degrade all of them.

        2. Your comments are embarrassing to read, jealousy is in your heart and mind of Hamilton’s success. There is a reaaon why mercedes chose russell as his replacement, because they and you and I know Russell is a future world champion like tge Greatest of this Era Hamilton.

      4. Adjust for the short track and it’s more like a tenth or 2.
        I thought ANYONE could beat Bottas and win in that Merc? Grandmas are often quoted as being able to win in that Merc and beat Bottas!
        ( sorry George.. love your work but a few people need putting right)

        1. @deanr you put in a driver with hardly any experience in the Mercedes and he almost pips Botaas ( the one who is very close to Lewis in Quali)
          It shows that every good driver can do wonders in that car.
          Put in LEC or VER and see the real potential of that car.

          1. lexusreliabilty?
            5th December 2020, 20:27

            real potential of that car

            Alternatively put Ricciardo in that Red Bull to see its real potential as he showed for the majority of the time at Red Bull. Works both ways ye see

          2. Yes, ofc, both things are correct, hamilton is not the best driver ever, he’s simply a top driver who had a great car for longer than other top drivers did, so ofc he has no problems beating a barrichello-like driver, or even rosberg which was probably along the lines of raikkonen.

            At the same time, bottas has a lot of criticism towards him but it’s pretty obvious albon has been terrible in comparison, bottas would be a serious upgrade at red bull, so would perez and so on.

          3. Davethechicken
            6th December 2020, 9:08

            Russell, hardly any experience? Do you watch F1?

    3. Russell is also running in a pair of boots 1 size smaller than he would normally and a seat that is 3 years old… I’d like to see what he would be capable of if he was in a tub and seat designed for him…

      Let’s see what he can do at race pace…

    4. I think it could highlight the great job that Bottas and Hamilton do in creating a drivable car and the experience they have in developing the car. I think its something that Red Bull have been lacking in recent years. Max is clearly an unbelievably talented driver but the cars seem to have become more and more difficult to drive since he’s become lead driver, he can cope with that but the slightly less talented guys really struggle. There have definitely been improvements in the Renault since Riccardo left Red Bull and went there

      1. @burden93

        I think it could highlight the great job that Bottas and Hamilton do in creating a drivable car and the experience they have in developing the car

        The W11 is fast and easy to drive mainly because of the engineering capabilities and the stratospheric resources of Mercedes F1 team. The car was clearly a rocketship since its first shakedown and in testing it was clear how fast it was compared to the competition.

    5. I think the fact that Russell had to ask how to turn the car off at the end of qualifying, and doesn’t seem to fit in the car (his head looks a couple of inches higher than Valtteri and Lewis) I think he can be very pleased with himself. I didn’t realise he’s 6″2, that’s quite a bit bigger than Lewis.

  4. Leclerc has clearly shaved off all the wing tht car has and benefited from a good slipstream but man…what a lap. And Russell too, with a better first sector he could’ve beaten the guy who occasionally beats Lewis over a lap.

    Albon was the big loser today, while Norris just…gave up on both his push laps at the end? Even Seidl seemed at a loss with that.

    1. I’m sure he could beat Lewis, after all many can, and have done so.

      However, the big question is can he do so race after race after race?
      All of the greatest drivers have lost more races than they have won, which means someone beat them, “occasionally” beating Lewis is pretty much irrelevant, consistently or frequently beating him would be impressive, but Bottas doesn’t.

  5. Well Russell didn’t disgrace himself , we’ll see tomorrow if one Swallow a summer makes…

    1. Russell is the real deal! He will be WDC before Max and Charles.

      1. If he drives a Mercedes that is.

        1. Davethechicken
          6th December 2020, 9:11

          Your precious Max won’t be getting a go in a Merc anytime soon with drivers like Russell on the grid. He would do the same in Albon’s Red Bull and make Max look ordinary. Just like Riccardo and Carlos did.

      2. To be fair hulk did better when he did that and with no FP’s …

  6. Great by Russel to end just 2 hundredths shy. But bear in mind he had the tow. A creditable performance nonetheless and as a young driver he will improve. But I can see the logic of Mercedes of not putting him in the Mercedes for 2021.

    What a lap by Leclerc. I think he got a good tow from Max. If he didn’t, I don’t understand the pace of the Ferrari. He qualified 4th at the 3rd round (British Grand Prix) as well as here. Is it that the car is actually better but Leclerc is being inconsistent (and Seb even more so)

    1. Mercedes are in the process of making history, they are not going to interupt that magnificent journey to save a few bucks.

    2. They said a tow was not a decisive factor today. Bottas had the choice if he wanted to be out first or second and in sector one with the two long straights he was the faster of them anyway. So I think the laptimes are quite representative.

      Agreed with Leclerc beeing the standout driver today, not agreeing though with Vettel being inconsistent.
      He’s always somewhere around P 11-14. That’s just all he is capable of (in that car) and somtimes Leclerc is somehow abke to make a difference on a saturday especially whew the midfield is so close together.

      1. Russell had no tow. Bottas was a long way up the road. Couldn’t even see him Bottas in front of him.

    3. I think he would have been in the Mercedes next year if Williams had agreed to release him. Bottas was signed for 2021 after Williams said no.

  7. Not only Albon but also weird stuff with Norris. He aborted both of his last two attempts in Q2 without an apparent reason, i.e., any noticeable error anywhere.

    1. Max and Leclrec are like lead drivers entrusted with a secret, which their fellow team mates are denighed knowledge of.

      1. It does kind of feel like that. I can understand a driver making a difference of 2 tenths but anything approaching half a second seems strange

    2. Norris and his team seemed to be very confused out there today. ???

  8. I was a strong supporter of Russell after his strong campaign in F2, when he beat easily another over-hyped racer – Norris (and Albon). But this F1. You either get a chance and get a result, or you’re out.

    Russell got a chance to achieve something and failed. Hamilton was beating Bottas in qualifying with ease; more so in races. But “so special” Russell was merely keeping up with Bottas. It’s easy to outperform low-skilled or crippled team-mates in qualification. (Aitken, who isn’t anything special, almost beat Latifi today. Without an error in the last corner, Aitken would be higher.) But losing to them in the races (Latifi almost managed to get a point and still is higher than Russell in the standings, while Kubica actually got some points in Williams) actually shows something.

    Ocon showed 0 progress in his second year in F1, and then was out. He came back to only be beaten by Ricciardo (who was trashed by Verstappen). Russell can be this next Ocon.

    The problem is not only that Russell wastes opportunities to grab some points. The actual problem is that when Russell gets into the mix, into the actual fight with other racers, he fails to show anything. He just loses positions through mistakes and can’t get ahead of anyone using any strategy. I don’t remember anything special from him in his time in F1. Even Bottas and Hulkenberg had their special moments in F1 when they started their careers.

    What happens tomorrow will be a decisive factor for me. To me, if Russell doesn’t beat Bottas in the race will mean I would never sign him for Mercedes.

    1. I don’t really agree with this at all. “Hamilton was beating Bottas in qualifying with ease”, isn’t really true, sure the numbers are in Hamilton’s favour but the gaps have been super small. From this we know Bottas is very fast over 1 lap, so for Russell to be only 0.025s behind (on a smaller track) is pretty remarkable considering the limited running and the fact he doesn’t really fit in the car!
      Tomorrow will be important, but to say if Russell doesn’t beat Bottas he’ll never get a drive I think is incorrect. Mercedes know how good he is, and there is no doubt he’s up there with Verstappen and Leclerc in terms of ability

    2. So Aitken gets a ton of credit for being +0.1 behind Latifi, and Russell is a failure for being +0.02 behind Bottas? Not sure you’ve got an even playing field there.

    3. Russell got a chance to achieve something and failed.

      That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve read in a while.

      1. Ouch, did George run over your pet or something in the last two years?

        By extending your logic, Lewis should have been sacked after not winning the 2007 WDC as he had a chance and didn’t get the result.

        If the guys at Mercedes say he has done a good job then I’ll defer to their experience and knowledge.

      2. Sorry, hit wrong Reply button. This is aimed at Sviat.

    4. Russell got a chance to achieve something and failed. Hamilton was beating Bottas in qualifying with ease;

      well the “with ease” part is missing the races where Bottas got Pole and the very small time gaps on the other poles.
      George did actually great.. he had to perform in a car with very little experience in it.
      So, all in all a strange remark sviat..

    5. lexusreliability?
      5th December 2020, 19:14

      who was trashed by Verstappen

      Point of correction- Verstappen was “trashed” by Ricciardo twice. I also get the sense that you have a genuine needle with Russell- sure he has thrown away some opportunities, but the guy is still quite green and has alot of developing to do.

      1. Ah that story again..look at the last year they drove together.
        Ricci crushed, less points and a real punishment in quali.
        https://www.racing-statistics.com/en/drivers/compare/daniel-ricciardo/max-verstappen/seasons/2018

        1. lexusreliabilty?
          5th December 2020, 20:29

          ook at the last year they drove together.

          Nah- not going to cherry pick to suit your Max agenda. 3 years is a larger sample and you don’t want that coz it exposes your wonder boy for what he is- overhyped.

          1. @lexusreliabilty?
            You’re right; let’s not cherry pick….
            https://www.racefans.net/2017/12/01/2017-f1-team-mate-battles-verstappen-vs-ricciardo-at-red-bull/

            Last sentence: In the end Red Bull’s finishing rate in 2017 was so poor the cars only took the chequered flag together seven times in 20 races. Had that been better, Verstappen’s margin of superiority might have been reflected in the points tally. Perhaps the most telling detail was that Red Bull chose to extend his contract before Ricciardo’s.

            So, 2 out 3 sufficient?

          2. lexusreliabilty?
            5th December 2020, 23:26

            Had that been better

            Shoulda, coulda, woulda. At the end of the day that same argument could be said for their last season together where, Ricciardo was comfortably leading Verstappen up until Hungary but started to have woeful reliability compared to Max after he announced he was joining Renault. But you’re right- we’re not cherrypicking- at best Verstappen showed he maybe had more outright pace; Ricciardo showed he was overall the more rounded driver.

          3. Davethechicken
            6th December 2020, 9:24

            The Max fans here are deluded. Cherry pick all the stats.
            Hilarious the obsession with him

        2. Davethechicken
          6th December 2020, 9:22

          Riccardo crushed max over 3 years. More poles, more wins. More points. Even in 2017 he was ahead until he declared he was leaving.
          You hae serious blinkered vision regards Max, Erijke.

      2. Best guys in second year achieve podiums and/or move up the grid or go out

        Stroll manage a podium in Williams keeping his cool under safety cars Russel couldn’t, he is overrated for being English and Hamilton on the out, Norris is better IMHO.

    6. Absolute nonsense!! Russell drives a Williams! He has made a couple of mistakes for them in races but how did Verstappen get on with Torro Rosso? Or Leclerc for Alfa? They both made significant errors! VER crashed on weekly basis! Leclerc had the luxury of a Ferrari PU that was very fast and wasnt legal at Alfa and made several significant errors. Verstappen and Leclerc started their F1 careers in significantly better cars than todays Williams. George’s pre F1 record stands up against Leclerc and Lewis! George is far better than Ocon! He WILL be a WDC. Probably multiple WDC. What he has done this weekend is fantastic. You are of course entitled to your opinion but it seems you have some underlying issue with Russell?

      1. but how did Verstappen get on with Torro Rosso?

        excellent to be honest.. so good they put him in the RBR as soon as possible.
        And yes, in a Mercedes George will definitely become WDC. But who will fail there..

      2. @deanr
        “VER crashed on weekly basis! ”
        Hmmm, curious which races you are referring to, please show us.

        (Hint: He crashed in Monaco and spun out in Silverstone before he switched to RBR.)

        How does being stupid feel?

        1. lexusreliability?
          5th December 2020, 23:48

          How does being stupid feel?

          Keen to answer that yourself given you have to resort to insults instead of making articulate counter arguments?

    7. I don’t agree with you at all but I do understand your viewpoint; particularly if you only ever come on here for your F1 info. There are a significant amount of posters on here who have spent the last few years doing nothing but denigrating everything Bottas. So given that view one would expect any driver to be able to walk all over Bottas no matter what the circumstances. tbh I’m surprised there are not quite a few of them already on here making that very point.

      1. +1, agreed. Must say it’s awfully quiet on these boards tonight; would have been a total meltdown if Russell had grabbed pole- but that explains why the casuals are bored tonight.

        1. Blazzz, look at your postings after the FP1 and FP2..
          Be ashamed and look for a corner..

    8. Russell is the real deal. You’re being way too harsh on someone who’s only driven the car for a few hours and can’t even fit in it properly. To be that close to Bottas in qualifying at his first attempt is very good. He doesn’t have to win tomorrow to prove to Mercedes how good he is (hint: they already know, which is why he’s in the car).

      Look Bottas does outqualify Hamilton and even wins the occasional race. He can lead from lights to flag and knows how to win. Unfortunately, he has too many mediocre races to mount a serious championship challenge over a full season. Russel is my bet for a seat at Mercedes in 2022.

    9. Magnus Kevinsson
      6th December 2020, 8:03

      Such convoluted nonsense to try and explain why a guy who comes a few few milliseconds behind Bottas in a car he doesn’t fit properly and has only driven for less than 36 hrs is somehow a failure despite the fact that Bottas has been driving the Merc for several years is full integrated into the team and has had 15 race weekends this year in this very machine. The level of stupidity and inability to comprehend relevant information required to conclude that a p2 this close is a failure for Russell is quite mind blowing,

  9. Next generation of F1 stars judging by form this season in order

    Max Leclerc
    Sainz
    Russell Norris Gasly

    Love to see Mick is this list.

    It’s going to be a great next 10 years.

    1. Only if Lewis retires 😉

  10. Stick a fork in Ham, he is done!

    1. lexusreliability?
      5th December 2020, 19:17

      Comeon mate, give it a rest. HAM is resting easy with his 7 shiny WDCs while you are chewing on sour grapes.

    2. Wah ha hahaha! You’ve obviously not been watching this season then.
      Even if Lewis retired today he would still be “officially” the best driver F1 has ever seen. Can quote the Nos if you want?

    3. Yes I think we all understand you are scared stiff of your boy having to go up against Hamilton and would rather he retire first.

  11. It’s amusing to see people desperate to say hamilton is overrated, but they can’t decide whether the best premise is that bottas is slow or alternatively that bottas is quick enough to be a benchmark for Russell. Some try to have it both ways.

      1. There is not one driver on the grid apart from HAM that would have been Champion by now or with 11 wins out of 15.

        Turkey is your outliner to answer the above.

    1. And indeed, both are true ;)

      1. lexusreliability?
        5th December 2020, 19:19

        Atleast you openly admit you are one of those who want to have their cake and eat it. If Russell can be competitive after one weekend what does it say about Albon and Gasly who were nowhere compared to Verstappen?

        1. Put Albon in a Mercedes and he will become WDC.

          1. lexusreliability?
            5th December 2020, 20:42

            Put Ricciardo in that Red Bull and he would have a pole position by now and be ahead of Verstappen in the standings.

          2. Right, he can’t even get close to Verstappen, he’s not beating Bottas or Hamilton.

          3. Albon really? He couldn’t even become champion in F2 in his second season. He was destroyed by Russell, who did win the title in his rookie season.

            Russel is WDC mterial, Albon is field filler.

      2. There are some great soothing creams on the market.

    2. @dmw I know right. Lets also not forget that Hamilton was 3 tenths faster than Bottas in the previous Bahrain Q3.

  12. Mercedes could save a bit of money and ditch both HAM and BOT and replace with PER and RUS.

    1. Yes, I can totally see Mercedes dropping a chance of breaking a record, and replacing a 7x world champion, to same some money.

    2. Hamilton will shout Racism if that happens 😅

  13. Yes, Russell had the benefit of tow but that most have been uncomfortably close. VB is a decent driver, look at his qualifying record at Williams.

    1. Both Bottas and Russell came from Williams to Mercedes. Who’s next? Aitken? :)

    2. @stjs16 Bottas actually had a poor lap and he was still faster.

      1. I think Bottas said he was disappointed that He did not improve in his final lap, I can’t find any comment on the pole lap

  14. Incredible laps from kvyat and leclerc!

  15. When people compare Bottas’s qualifying pace to Hamilton’s, they forget that it only became that close on occasion since Bottas was given Lewis’s performance engineer.

    In fact, Bottas confirmed how he benefited from this himself. However, the original deficit shows up in the race.

    It is much easier to implement performance traces over a single lap, than to replicate it lap after lap.

    Furthermore, what we saw today was the inability of Bottas to look at Hamilton’s traces and use that to his benefit. This is what has made Russell to be close to him.

    1. Do not believe “people” just look at the stats ( about 0,1 difference) and the Poles Bottas took.

      1. lexusreliability?
        5th December 2020, 20:45

        Can we also look at how Albon (who is clearly a nobody) was beating Verstappen last season prior to Brazil?

        1. @lexusreliability?

          Lol, that’s some proper cherrypicking. (How did it turn out at the end of the season?)

          And is it comparable to Vallteri (who is cleary a bigger nobody than Albon) outscoring Lewis prior to Spain in 2019?

          1. lexusreliabilty?
            5th December 2020, 23:28

            I guess you missed the *cherrypicking* of the OP- as well hence my follow up argument.

    2. Without Hamilton’s info it’s hard to know where to improve. I suspect tomorrow that Verstappen will win as Bottas is terrible with tyre management not sure what Russell’s like.

      Tomorrow will be fascinating as I think quite a few people will be in contention.

  16. Stunning performance from Russell to come into a new car, still understanding the car, how to set it up, finding the limits, and basically matched Bottas.

    Often there’s only a tenth between Bottas and Hamilton, so I think you could safely say if that Russell had as much running in this Merc this year as Bottas, he’s beat Bottas quite comfortably.

    It shows how good this Merc is to lock out the front row on a track where they weren’t too confident.

    Wonderful performance by Max to match the Mercs as well.

    Leclerc the star of qualifying with that lap out of nowhere.

    This performance by Russell shows he’s up to it in a big team and Mercedes had better make a move on him before another team do.

    1. Mercedes already have him, he has a Williams seat because of them and is most likely to be the next person to sit in a Merc full time, nobody else is going to grab him.

  17. You could argue Job sort of done for Bottas, given he got pole.

    But if you’re Mercedes management and looking at Russell, you’re seeing a young guy stepping in and immediately being as good as Bottas, knowing that worst case scenario, Russell is on Bottas’s level, so would be no risk to step in.

    Bottas really needed it to be convincing given the huge advantage he has with car familiarity. It’s anything but.

    1. That’s it exactly, so far worst case as good as Bottas, best case massively better once integrated into team, properly fitted into car and given some time to adjust to his new situation and learn the car.

      But he’ll have to be somewhere in the higher points tomorrow to really underline that, a podium will seal it.

  18. Pretty clear the only amazing driver on the grid is Verstappen. I mean Albon is nowhere. Gasly was nowhere. Suddenly at torro rosso he’s ”amazing” again? Don’t think so. He’s the same. Verstappen was up against ricciardo who we all know is great. And won. Verstappen in mercedes and you’d never see Lewis even close.

    1. If you change that statement to: The only driver I support is Verstappen, then no one can argue with you.

      Leclerc has been mighty impressive this season, constantly dragging that Ferrari much higher than it deserves.
      Gasly has raised some eyebrows.
      Ricciardo absolutely dominates Ocon, who was on par with Perez.
      Both Perez and Sainz impress with consistent scoring despite misfortune.
      Hamilton snatching victory from the jaws of defeat in Turkey was also something very special.

      I say there were many drives to appreciate this season.

      1. It would seem, however, that in a world where traditional religions may be declining, there are many here who feel it necessary to appoint a secular saint for themselves, to worship them with the fanaticism of a zealot and to engage in the sort of crusading mentality that demands they must throw as much contempt and abuse at those who they believe are straying from the true icon to worship.

        In practice, it seems that the drivers have a lot more respect for each other than their fans do and would probably be rather embarrassed at the way that some of their fans behave. In this case, it is somewhat ironic that Max Verstappen, the very driver that Initially is praising so much, was this same day one of those same figures defending Hamilton in his post-race interviews and making it clear that he thought he was a much tougher competitor than some of his fans in this thread seem to want to paint him as.

        We have quite a few posters here on both sides who really should be stepping away from the keyboard and taking a good, hard look at themselves and asking themselves the fundamental question “what am I doing?”. There are some here who really are wasting a disproportionate amount of time and going to rather elaborate lengths to praise a figure who would, quite frankly, would probably treat them with utter contempt if he saw what they were doing in his name.

        1. I expect many have taken a long hard look at themselves and in disgust at what they see they come on here to badmouth and trash people far more successful and talented than they are or will ever be.
          Just feel sorry for these people who choose to expend their efforts this way

      2. Well, no. I support a range of drivers. Leclerc, Vettel, ricciardo. But Verstappen is clearly the only driver in a different league completely than his team mate. Team mates that are rated highly that is. Other than Ricciardo vs Ocon. But Ricciardo we all know is a great driver.
        Bottas was never impressive.

    2. Davethechicken
      6th December 2020, 10:38

      Lol your sarcasm is hilarious. Max is sooo god he managed 2 whole pole positions in the second best car on the grid in over 100 gp. That is exceptional talent. Even the GOAT Riccardo could only manage 3 in that same car and we all know he is the second greatest of all time after Max.

  19. So much for “It’s Hamilton, not the car” that’s so great. Either Russell is living up to the hype or the W11 flatters any driver that sits in it. Yeah sure Lewis is great and all, but Bottas it’s starting to look average if he’s only two tenths quicker than a substitute.

    1. * sorry, two hundredths quicker than a substitute!!

  20. Well that was a properly exciting qualifying. Wasn’t sure if a Racing Point would mix it in the top and there was a Ferrari as well. Awesome laps in the end by Leclerc and Kvyat.

    Russell’s performance being thrown in the deep end was seriously impressive, although to me this also proves that his side of the garage is just better. Getting the setup so nailed from the start was surely as much about the crew than Russell.

  21. We all must remember, it’s not the car. It’s Lewis. :Rolleyes:

    F1 is 95% car, 5% driver. If you’re in a fierce competition with another team and your cars are pretty much equal, the driver can have an impact.

    Mercedes would have won these titles regardless. Hamilton is a great driver, but his cars are the reason he’s won (and lost) titles.

    1. I think Rosberg already proved it was Mercedes and not just Hamilton that was great, but Russell really emphasized the point today.

    2. Yes, exactly, according to mathematical models maybe your % is a little exagerated, think between 85-90% team, rest driver, and this % has been increasing since for example the end senna-early schumacher era.

      As it is with mercedes situation, example this year, I think all hamilton is doing is turning a marginal title into domination, but the same would happen if you put another top driver at his place, such as verstappen, leclerc, or maybe even russel, still haven’t seen him a lot at a decent car ofc.

      1. And I don’t know how some people can say it’s hamilton doing miracles, didn’t hamilton lose every title in the red bull era, only getting some wins? If hamilton is so great, this should be yet another proof that a great driver can’t do miracles in a subpar car compared to the best of an era.

  22. It is easier to come in and drive a fairly good car and qualify well over one lap. Let is not forget Russell has some experience with Mercedes and the engines. A fast driver will be very fast immediately because they have the capacity to understand the dynamics of the car almost immediately.
    Where I expect Russell to have issues are with race setup and extracting the best from the tyres and this may not be too difficult if the Mercedes chassis is very communicative.

    1. It’s not easier at all. Look at how much Gasly struggled in the RBR, then went back to Toro Rosso and has done well.

  23. I did say a fairly good car. Meaning a well developed car with reasonable balance or consistent handling.

    1. Reply to DeanFranklin

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