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Bottas gets a pat from team mate Hamilton.

Merc newcomer Bottas beats Hamilton for maiden F1 pole

MANAMA, April 15, 2017

Mercedes newcomer Vatteri Bottas claimed the first pole position of his career at the Bahrain Grand Prix, pipping his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton into second place with his final lap of the Q3 qualifying session, to which the Briton failed to respond.

Bottas is the first Finn to take pole position since Heikki Kovalainen at the 2008 British Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel finished third half a second behind Bottas, with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo fourth in front of Vettel’s Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen in fifth. Max Verstappen rounded off the top six, reported The Guardian.

Hamilton put it on provisional pole in the early stages of the final session but Bottas put the pressure on with a quicker lap in the closing minutes.

The slender margin reflected a tight battle between the two Mercedes drivers throughout qualifying, which just tipped in Bottas' favour in the closing stages.

An excited Bottas, said: "Obviously I am really happy. It's my first pole in my career in my fifth season in F1 so it took a few years but hopefully it's the first of many for me."

"It's credit to the team as we are both starting in the front row. The team did a really good job to focus on the evening conditions and its going to help us tomorrow. It's not an easy track to get right, it's quite technical with a few different braking points. It's easy to lock up or miss apex slightly but hopefully if I can concentrate it will be alright tomorrow," he stated.

"You can only enjoy this for a short period of time. There's no point in dreaming. We will plan a good strategy but good place to start. Hopefully we can get that 1, 2," added Bottas.

A slightly scrappy middle sector for Hamilton on his final flying lap presented the opportunity to Bottas and, in just in his third race with the team, he seized the moment with a lap time of 1:28.769, reported ESPN.

Lauding his Mercedes team mate, Hamilton said: "Big congratulations to Valtteri. He has been working so hard and today he was just quicker, he did the better job and hats off to him."

"I was losing quite a bit of time through the first sectors, it was my weker point but I will work on that tomorrow," he stated.

The threat from Ferrari failed to emerge, with Vettel 0.478s off pole after failing to improve on his second run.

He lost the most time in sectors one and three, which are all about power in Bahrain and rewarded the Mercedes engine's super-fast qualifying mode. The tables could be turned on Sunday however, after Ferrari showing strong race pace during Friday's practice sessions, said the ESPN report.

Vettel said: "Overall I am happy with qualifying third and with how the car felt. We had some issues yesterday but we've tweaked the balance today and it felt much better."

"I was happy with my first lap, looked up and saw they were both ahead and so was a bit annoyed. Then, maybe I tried a little too hard but had nothing to lose. Unfortunately it didn't work. Hopefully we can do more tomorrow," he added.

Daniel Ricciardo pipped Kimi Raikkonen to fourth by 0.022s as a Red Bull ventured as high as the second row for the first time this year.

Max Verstappen was a further 0.142s off teammate Ricciardo in sixth, but held off the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg, which was just 0.155s slower in seventh.

Felipe Massa took eighth for Williams ahead of an impressive performance by Romain Grosjean in the Haas and Jolyon Palmer in the second Renault.

Daniil Kvyat just missed out on a place in Q3 after running wide at the final corner on his hot lap and finishing 0.024s off Jolyon Palmer's Q2 time.

Lance Stroll failed to make Q3 and will start 12th just ahead of Pascal Wehrlein, who will return to the starting grid for the first time this year in an impressive 13th place after sitting out the first two races, reported ESPN.

Esteban Ocon took 14th after struggling with the rear of his Force India, beating Fernando Alonso, who did not set a time in Q2 after a Honda engine problem on his McLaren that will require a power unit change ahead of Sunday's race, it added.




Tags: Hamilton | f1 pole | Merc | Bottas |

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