Sakhir GP 2020

DECEMBER 5, 2020

Qualifying Report - A narrow margin

Valtteri Bottas, Sakhir GP 2020
© Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

By Dan Knutson

Valtteri Bottas earned the 16th pole of his F1 career after beating his new Mercedes teammate George Russell by the narrow margin 0.026 of a second in qualifying for the Sakhir Grand Prix.

The line-up for the weekend was: Mercedes – George Russell and Valtteri Bottas; Ferrari – Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc; Red Bull Honda – Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon; McLaren Renault – Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris; Renault – Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon; AlphaTauri Honda – Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly; Racing Point Mercedes – Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll; Alfa Romeo Ferrari – Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi; Haas Ferrari – Pietro Fittipaldi and Kevin Magnussen; Williams Mercedes – Jack Atkin and Nicolas Latifi.

Verstappen topped Free Practice 3 earlier in the day with a time of 54.064 seconds.


The ambient temperature at the start of the 18 minute session was 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 81 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Centigrade).

The Haas drivers were the first on track. Magnussen posted a 0.55.464 to take the early lead. Sainz beat that by 0.130 of a second.

Now the front runners were running, and Bottas posted a 0.54.607. Perez came around in 0.54.267.

Next Verstappen beat them all with his 0.54.037.

When there were six minutes remaining in Q1, Aitkin was 15th and on the cutoff line. Magnussen was 14th and Latifi was 16th. Verstappen, Perez, Ricciardo, Sainz, Stroll and Albon were out front.

But the cutoff line drivers kept changing, and the five drivers who were eliminated at the end of Q1 were: Magnussen, Latifi, Aitkin, Raikkonen and Fittipaldi.

The fastest 15 drivers who moved on to Q2 were: Bottas, Verstappen, Russell, Norris, Gasly, Perez, Leclerc, Vettel, Ocon, Kvyat, Ricciardo, Sainz, Giovinazzi, Stroll and Albon.


All the drivers stayed in the garages when the 15 minute session began. But then Sainz took to the track.

The Ferrari and Mercedes drivers were on the medium compound Pirelli tires. So was Verstappen and the Renault drivers.

Leclerc posted a 0.54.474, and Gasly topped that at 0.54.130. But it was Bottas who went fastest at 0.53.803.

Russell slotted into second ahead of Verstappen and Kvyat. Perez rammed home a 0.53.787 to go ahead.

Tenth and on the bubble with five minutes to go was Ocon, and Ricciardo was ninth while Gasly was 11th. Perez, Bottas, Sainz, Russell, Stroll and Leclerc were the top six.

Verstappen took the lead with a 0.53.647.

The five drivers who were eliminated at the end of Q2 were: Ocon, Albon, Vettel, Giovinazzi and Norris.

The fastest 10 drivers who moved on to Q3 were: Verstappen, Perez, Bottas, Sainz, Russell, Leclerc, Stroll, Kvyat, Ricciardo and Gasly. Everybody but Bottas and Norris had used the soft slicks in the end.


Q3 lasted 12 minutes. Bottas and Russell led the pack out of the pitlane.

Verstappen got to the top with a 0.53.591. Leclerc took second ahead of Bottas, Russell and Ricciardo.

Perez waited to go out and had a clear track and took fourth place.

The Mercedes guys went back out for a second run. Bottas rammed in a 0.53.377. Russell grabbed second at 0.53.519. So Verstappen, Leclerc, Perez and Ricciardo rounded out the top six.

But there was time for a final run. And afterwards the top 10 qualifiers were: Bottas, Russell, Verstappen, Leclerc, Kvyat, Ricciardo, Sainz, Gasly and Stroll.