Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas had pole in F1 Sakhir GP from George Russell and Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen – the Top3 only 0.056s aloof.
Even though it was just Q1 in F1 Sakhir GP, teams were on varied strategy with McLaren’s Carlos Sainz starting his first run on the hard tyres, while the two AlphaTauri and Mercedes drivers were on the medium compound to set their initial best time.
The Turn 8 track limits caught out McLaren’s Lando Norris after his lap was deleted, which forced him to go around the second time which put him in fourth as Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas led the way from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and George Russell.
It was a gamble from Red Bull in the end with Alexander Albon in 15th but they were safe as Haas’ Kevin Magnussen (54.705s) missed out in 16th from Williams’ Nicholas Latifi (54.796s) & Jack Aitken (54.892s) in 17th and 18th.
Replays showed Aitken losing time going slightly off in otherwise a solid qualifying session. Haas’ Pietro Fittipaldi was 20th with a 55.426s lap. He qualified last for F1 Sakhir GP but he was anyways to do so with engine part penalties.
The second part in F1 Sakhir GP session had strategy game being played around with both the Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari drivers on the medium tyres along with Verstappen. After first runs, the Top 5 was covered by just the 0.053s with Sergio Perez leading.
The Mexican remained second as Verstappen went fastest with Bottas in third. Both the Mercedes drivers remained on the medium tyres, while the rest of them changed compounds, which was not enough for Renault’s Esteban Ocon (53.995s).
Albon (54.026s) missed out as well in 12th where he couldn’t improve in the second and third sectors, while Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel (54.175s) was 13th ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi (54.377s) and McLaren’s Lando Norris (54.693s), who aborted his lap too.
The final run in the F1 Sakhir GP qualifying had Verstappen leading the way with a 53.591s from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Bottas, where the two Mercedes drivers were on the used soft tyres. The AlphaTauri duo, meanwhile, went out on the medium tyres.
It was a different strategy from Mercedes as they went out early on the new sets of soft to be 1-2 with Bottas (53.377s) ahead of Russell. They pitted straight after the lap and went out again for the final run, as did everyone else barring Leclerc.
That was close between the Mercedes drivers with only 0.026s separating Bottas and Russell (53.403s) as Verstappen (53.433s) was just 0.056s behind the Finn. Interestingly, Leclerc’s (53.613s) earlier time was enough to hand him fourth.
In fact, Bottas did not improve on his final lap, even though he was purple in the final sector. Behind Leclerc was Perez (53.790s) in fifth as AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat (53.906s) did well in sixth with Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo (53.957s) in seventh.
The Top 10 in the F1 Sakhir GP was rounded out by Sainz (54.010s), Gasly (54.154s) and Racing Point’s Lance Stroll (54.200s).