Sunday, November 29, 2020

Newly-Minted 2020 F1 Champion Hamilton Takes Bahrain Grand Prix Pole


LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

After four events held on race tracks that were originally unplanned for the 2020 Formula 1 season prior to this year, the series’ trip to the Bahrain International Circuit served as a familiar venue for the majority of drivers and teams. Arriving for the Bahrain Grand Prix, another element of commonality of recent seasons has again been solidified. Thanks to a steady year capped with an impressive victory at the last race in Turkey, Lewis Hamilton has locked up his sixth Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship in the last seven years. With three races remaining for the 2020 season, Hamilton and his Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team (who had already locked the year’s Constructors’ Championship title) are again at the top of the motorsport world but is unwilling to rest on their laurels. 

Setting fastest laps in the first two practice sessions on Friday, Lewis Hamilton remained focused to add to his growing list of career achievements in the Persian Gulf-based country. Ahead of qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix, Hamilton began to face a strengthened opposition as Max Verstappen and the Red Bull Racing team stepped up their effort to be quickest after the third and final practice.

Photo Credit: Pirelli & C. S.p.A.

As daylight escaped the Bahrain International Circuit leaving the 5.412-kilometer race track illuminated by lights, Saturday’s qualifying shaping the field for the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix commenced with far less drama than the rainy last outing in Istanbul. Only one red flag appeared over the course of the three time trial sessions occurring when the McLaren race car of Carlos Sainz Jr. stopped on track during Q2. Detailed as a braking system issue by McLaren’s Team Principal Andreas Seidl, Sainz will start Sunday’s race in 15th place.

Taking fastest times through all three sessions of qualifying, Lewis Hamilton stormed to one of his most convincing pole position efforts yet in his Mercedes-AMG F1 W11 EQ Performance race car. The British driver’s 98th career Formula 1 pole and 10th this season, Hamilton’s top spot at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix came after setting a time of 1-minute, 27.264 seconds in Q3. “No matter what has been thrown at us this year we’ve risen to it. For me it’s important to use these final three more races to learn as much as possible and carry that on into next year.” Commented Lewis Hamilton in a post-race news release from his team.

A little under three-tenths of a second slower than his Mercedes-AMG teammate, Valtteri Bottas provided a vital ingredient in cementing a statement of dominance for the German-based organization in qualifying. Starting 1-2 once again in the 2020 season for Sunday`s Bahrain Grand Prix, the Mercedes-AMG team has recovered one race after its streak of successful pole runs was ended in Turkish Grand Prix qualifying by Mercedes-Benz customer team Racing Point.

LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

Falling short of his performance in Saturday practice, Max Verstappen remained tight with the pace of the Mercedes-AMG team cars. The Honda-powered Red Bull RB16 driven by the Dutch pilot recorded a 1-minute, 27.678-second lap time that was just 0.125 seconds slower than Valtteri Bottas. Verstappen’s start from the second row for Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix will feature the company of teammate Alexander Albon. Albon’s strong pace in the timed session came roughly 24 hours after the Thai driver suffered a major crash in a practice. In the second practice on Friday, Albon collided with the track barrier after running wide in the track’s final corner.

Fresh off a second-place finish in Istanbul, Racing Point’s Sergio Perez recorded the fifth-fastest time in the final session of qualifying at the Bahrain International Circuit starting well ahead teammate Lance Stroll. Finishing the Q1 session with the second-fastest time, Stroll’s effort setting a top lap time in Q2 was complicated by the red flag as well as being equipped with used medium compound tires. The Canadian Racing Point driver will start 13th for the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix.

The two Renault race cars finished qualifying very close together separated by Q3 lap times just 0.002 seconds apart. Australian Daniel Ricciardo edged out teammate Esteban Ocon for the sixth place starting spot. Sunday’s 57-lap event will feature an all-French fourth row as the AlphaTauri race car driven by Pierre Gasly will start alongside seventh place Ocon. Behind the two Frenchmen, Lando Norris will start the Bahrain Grand Prix in ninth place while the second AlphaTauri racer Daniil Kvyat will roll off from tenth place.

Set for a 5:10 P.M. local time in the hot desert, the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix will take place at 9:10 A.M. Eastern time. 

2020 Formula 1
Bahrain Grand Prix
Starting Grid

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