Bottas beats Hamilton to claim maiden career pole position at Bahrain GP

Cornelia Mascio
Aprile 17, 2017

Can 2017's title rivals in Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel follow suit? A demoralizing drought for such a fiercely proud team, certainly, but this year promises to be different.

After finishing a respectable third in the opening race of the season, but then a disappointing sixth in last week's Chinese Grand Prix, Bottas out-qualified teammate Hamilton by just 0.023 seconds to claim his first pole for Sunday's race.

Hamilton also finished second to Vettel in the Australian opener, before winning in China, and he said that defeat had not been due to any "massive fault of my own" but rather due to heavy tyre wear.

Hamilton was magnanimous despite his personal disappointment and afterwards admitted that Bottas' arrival in the team was keeping him focussed and motivated. "It is just incredible", said Hamilton. "I didn't find any words", he said.

Not classified were Sauber's Marcus Ericsson, Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz, Williams's Lance Stroll, Red Bull's Max Verstappen, Haas's Kevin Magnussen and McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne. The 19-year-old Verstappen, who had driven so well from 16th place on the grid to finish third in China last weekend, climbed out and kicked the barriers in frustration. The incidents were coming fast, with 18-year-old Lance Stroll hit from the side on lap 13 by Carlos Sainz Jr. - forcing the safety auto to come out.

In a congested pit lane, Hamilton was deemed by race stewards to have driven "unnecessarily slowly" in front of Red Bull Racing's Daniel Ricciardo.

It was 24 degrees Celsius (75 Fahrenheit) with a refreshing breeze when the race started at 6 p.m. local time (1500 GMT) and finished under floodlights.

A slow stop for Bottas delayed Hamilton slightly anyway and he dropped behind the Red Bull, and was then hit with a five-second penalty for delaying Ricciardo.

With Hamilton gaining fast, Vettel came in for his second tire change on lap 34 and came out fourth behind Raikkonen. The Finn has been present on the podium 10 times during his four-and-a-bit seasons in F1 so far, but to ascend to the top step will be a big, big ask.

"Thanks to Valtteri for being a gentleman", said Hamilton, who endured a much more hard relationship with Nico Rosberg, his former Mercedes teammate. "It's not one that's really used much in the vocabulary", added Hamilton.

Though a Ferrari victory has not come since 2010, when Fernando Alonso won at the one off "endurance" layout of the track.

McLaren was once a proud team like Ferrari is now, but with no points from three races it is a long way off from turning the corner.

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