Bottas beats Hamilton to take pole position at Bahrain GP

Bottas beats Hamilton to take pole position at Bahrain GP

Though it was reset a few times earlier in qualifying, Bottas' pole time is now the new record for the fastest ever lap at the Bahrain International Circuit.

Three-time champion Hamilton who shares the championship lead with Sebastian Vettel, and who had been quickest until the final runs, was unable to find the extra speed he needed on his second run in Q3 to retain pole position.

Team-mate Palmer grabbed 10th to secure Renault's first double showing in Q1 since the 2011 Japanese Grand Prix.

"That's how close qualifying should always be, it forces us to be on the limit", said Hamilton, who had taken pole in Bahrain for the past two years.

"I think it's great how close it is between the teams because then it brings out the best in each driver", said the triple world champion, whose best lap was a mere 0.023 seconds slower.

"Vettel wound up narrowly ahead of Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes and third-placed Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull at the end of second practice, the trio separated by 0.06 seconds".

"A first pole position?"

"It's definitely a lot better but there are just little things on the auto still".

"A first pole position, it is just wonderful - you dream that as a kid and tomorrow could be his first GP win ever".

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said Bottas's hopes had been hit even before the lights went out on the grid when a problem with a generator left the Finn starting with the wrong tyre pressures.

Bottas clocked a leading time of 1 minute, 28.769 seconds over the 5.4-kilometer (3.3-mile) track in Sakhir, compared to 1:28.792 for Hamilton.

"I was very happy with my first lap, crossed the line and then looked up and saw both (Mercedes) were ahead", said Vettel.

"Between Vettel, Valtteri and Lewis I feel a little bit of a Federer-Nadal situation, there is a lot of respect for the competitor. It was definitely possible to be a bit further forward, but last time I started a bit further behind and ended on the podium, so anything is possible". It is just unbelievable.

Vettel's 44th win lifted him to 68 points, with Hamilton second on 61.

"You can only enjoy this for a short period of time". It was the sixth consecutive year in Bahrain that Mercedes won pole. McLaren's nightmare continued with Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne failing to start and Fernando Alonso retiring on the final laps but classified 14th.

Practice here had been a frustratingly slow-burn process, with Hamilton's 2016 pole position time of 1m 29.423s appearing impregnable as drivers and teams battled to set-up their potentially much faster cars in terrible track and ambient temperatures as high as of 47 and 36 degrees C respectively.

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