Grand Prix of Bahrain – Qualifying

Less than a week after the Grand Prix of China, which saw HAM win and draw level with VET on 43 points in the Drivers’ Championship, the F1 circus has moved from the dampness of Shanghai to the dry heat of Sakhir, Bahrain.

In those few days:

  • WEH is back in the Sauber [BBC]
  • ALO is going to race the Indianapolis 500 instead of Monaco GP [BBC]
  • Button will replace ALO for Monaco [BBC]
  • In other McLaren news, apparently they’ve brought a 3D printer to the circuit in case they need to print spare parts [BBC]
  1. Free Practice 1: VET (1:32.697), RIC, VER, PER, MAS
    MAS had an issue with his brakes; RAI retired from FP1 with an overheating turbo
  2. FP2: VET (1:31.310), BOT, RIC, RAI, HAM
    The sun has set but it’s still warm – over 33°C
    SAI is an early casualty – parks his Toro Rosso with smoke billowing from the engine; VSC deployed while the marshals remove his car
    WEH’s front right wheel seems to be up in the air in some turns – could be a suspension issue
    HAM runs wide and has to abort a quick lap as he tries to pass a Renault on a slow lap – will there be a penalty for HUL? (Will be investigated after FP2)
    BOT loses the T-wing from his Mercedes as he passes his teammate; HAM sounds frustrated as he reports seeing it
    VET slows, pulls off track and retires his Ferrari; marshals push him into the pit lane, where his mechanics take over pushing him back to the garage
    Replay shows VET reach out of cockpit to hit the neutral button!
    Looks like VER ran over BOT’s T-wing and it’s damaged the Red Bull’s floor
    VET’s issue resolved and he returns to the track but a couple of minutes later he has a brake temp alarm on his dash
    As the chequered flag falls, STR told to drive through the pit lane once behind the VSC but he replies he’s in too much pain!
  3. FP3: VER (1:32.194), HAM, VET, BOT, RAI
    GRO put his Haas in the tyre wall but doesn’t appear to have incurred too much damage

The pole battle is presumably going to be between the Mercedes and Ferrari drivers, with Red Bull right behind them. If HAM takes pole it’ll be his 64th – that’ll be one behind Ayrton Senna and 4 away from the record held by Michael Schumacher.

Despite the sun setting, it’s still hot in Bahrain – air 30°C, track 31°C
Ignore the official data feed that now says the track is zero degrees!
Wind has dropped to about 2.5 km/hr

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
Green lights; Q1 is under way
ERI and WEH are first out of their garages, followed by STR
The Saubers have gone out on red super-soft tyres, but STR is on yellow medium compounds
WEH 1:33.502
4mins into the 18min session; 14 of the 20 runners are on track
Both Mercedes and RAI’s Ferrari are on softs
GRO locks up into Turn 1 at the start of what should have been a flying lap
MAG 1:32.900
STR 1:32.891
PER 1:32.712
BOT 1:31.041 – that’s faster than anyone could manage in the three Free Practice sessions
HAM locks up and wrecks his quick lap
Radio from OCO – having problems opening his DRS
VER 1:30.904
HAM 1:30.814
STR runs wide across some fierce rumble strips
Radio from HAM asking his mechanics to check the car’s floor
5mins left of Q1; bottom 5 are STR, MAG, ERI, OCO, GRO
RAI heading out of the pits on super-soft tyres – he’s P7, so I’m not sure why he’s using up a set of tyres when he’s safely through to Q2
GRO jumps to P8 – OK, so maybe RAI isn’t quite so safe
2mins left; bottom 5 are PAL, STR, MAG, ERI, OCO
Did RAI hit some debris or was that something falling off the Ferrari?
Chequered flag
PAL to P7, relegating PER
OCO to P11, pushing VAN to P16
ERI P17
STR P12, bumps SAI
Yellow flags – SAI has stopped just off track; he’s on the radio saying “no power, no power”
Back of the grid: SAI, VAN, PER, ERI, MAG

Qualifying session 2
Long wait before anyone leaves the pits – BOT goes out on supersofts
HAM and RAI also heading out on supersofts
Radio for HAM reminding him these tyres will be the ones he starts the race on, assuming he gets through to Q3
Radio from RAI asking about his rear right tyre – confirmed it’s 6°C warmer than the others
BOT 1:29.555
HAM 1:29.535
RIC P3
VER P3
VET P3 – 0.04sec behind BOT
Williams mechanics seem hard at work on STR’s car; only he and ALO yet to leave the pits
In fact, ALO isn’t even in his car
5mins left of Q2; bottom 5 are GRO, OCO, WEH, ALO, STR
STR is finally heading out of the pits
STR goes P10, relegates PAL
Almost immediately HUL goes P10, pushing STR down again
PAL P9, HUL to P11
Chequered flag
OCO P13
WEH P13
HUL P5 – great lap; KVY to P11
Middle of the grid: KVY, STR, WEH, OCO, ALO

Qualifying session 3
Battling over the top 10 grid spots are HAM, BOT, VET, RAI, HUL, VER, RIC, MAS, GRO & PAL
First time Renault have had both cars in Q3 since Belgium 2015
The Red Bull pair are the first to exit the pit lane
Now both Mercedes head for the track
Just HUL, GRO and PAL remain in the pits
RIC 1:30.007
BOT 1:28.844 – that beats last year’s pole time (1:29.493) set by HAM
VER P2
HAM 1:28.792
MAS P5
VET P3
RAI P4
After one run, order is HAM, BOT, VET, RAI, VER, RIC, MAS, with no time yet from HUL, GRO and PAL
Radio from RAI – “struggling like crazy with understeer”
GRO the only one on track; goes P8
Everyone on track for their final runs
Looks like BOT more steady on his out lap, not warming his tyres as much as before
PAL P9
HUL P6
Chequered flag; order is HAM, BOT, VET, RAI, VER, HUL, RIC, MAS, GRO, PAL
BOT 1:28.769
Poor middle sector for HAM
RIC P4
HAM P2
MAS P8
RAI P5
VET still P3
Front of the grid: BOT, HAM, VET, RIC, RAI, VER, HUL, MAS, GRO, PAL

Provisional grid: BOT, HAM, VET, RIC, RAI, VER, HUL, MAS, GRO, PAL, KVY, STR, WEH, OCO, ALO, SAI, VAN, PER, ERI, MAG.

That’s BOT’s first ever F1 pole, putting an end to HAM’s run of poles
Radio from VET – “bit of a messy lap; tried a bit too much”
Looks like ALO will get a new engine for the race, which would mean a 5 grid spot penalty

2 thoughts on “Grand Prix of Bahrain – Qualifying

  1. Lance Stroll had to get out of his Williams Formula 1 car earlier than planned at the end of Bahrain Grand Prix practice because his overheating feet were “killing me”. [autosport]

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