LEWIS Hamilton, with the 2020 Formula 1 world championship already won, has registered his 98th pole position as Mercedes locked the front row ahead of today’s race in Bahrain.
Hamilton kept his practice form, outperforming teammate Valtteri Bottas who qualified in 2nd ahead of a charging Max Verstappen from Red Bull.
The perfomance by Hamilton and Bottas reflected Mercedes’ dominance on the circuit this year. Hamilton has won his record 7th world championship and Mercedes bagged the constructors trophy.
Hamilton paid tribute to the technical team behind his success: “The continuation of what we do as a team amazes me. These guys are going to be away from their families now for three weeks and I’m so grateful to them. The lap started off well and was a good one overall, so I was happy with it in the end.
“For these final three races of the season, we are fortunate to not have the pressure on us anymore but that does not mean we can take the foot off the gas. Tomorrow will be a battle as always and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Verstappen said: “My lap felt pretty good but we just lacked a bit of rear grip in the low speed corners but overall it was quite a decent qualifying. Of course I would have liked to fight for pole but if that is not possible I think it is ok to start third and on the clean side of the grid. Let’s see how we go tomorrow in the race because it’s very hard on tyres here so hopefully we’ve made the right compromise on that. We have different tyres to choose from so hopefully that works to our favour but we’ll see. It’s always difficult to say if we can fight Mercedes and I definitely think they picked up their pace today but I will try and keep as close as possible and hopefully find an opportunity.”
His teammate at Red Bull, Alex Albon recovered from a horrific crash during practice and drove the race of his life to qualify in 4th place. “It feels good to equal my best quali, I did want more from the session but if you look how it was 24 hours ago, this was a good result. Starting on the second row puts us in a good position to take the fight to Mercedes. Coming from FP3, the car was feeling really strong and I was ready to push hard in qualifying. We were surprisingly quick today compared to yesterday but I haven’t done a long run yet so let’s see how that goes tomorrow! I’ll be starting on the mediums tomorrow, I think the deg will be high so managing the tyres will be crucial. It will be a fun race for the fans to watch, that’s for sure,” he said.
Behind Albon in the 5th spot was Racing Point Sergio Perez, who must hope that his outstanding performance will earn him a seat somewhere because he is leaving his curent team at the end of the season.
The rest of the top 10 on the grid was dominated by Renault and Alpha Turi. Renault’s pair of Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon qualified in 6th and 7th spot, while Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly was in the 8th spot, followed by McLaren Lando Norris, 9th, and Alpha Tauri’s Daniiel Kyvat.