Maiden Formula One pole for Valtteri Bottas. Lewis Hamilton completes Silver Arrows lockout. Valtteri tonight claimed his first F1 career pole position at the Bahrain International Circuit. Lewis will start tomorrow’s Bahrain Grand Prix P2 after qualifying just 0.023s behind his teammate. Both drivers completed a single run in Q1 on Soft tyres, a single run on the SuperSoft in Q2, then two runs on the SuperSoft in Q3.
Valtteri Bottas: I’m really happy with my first Formula One pole. It’s my fifth season in the sport now, so it took a few races. But we got it and hopefully it is the first of many. It feels good. I didn’t realise it’d been nearly 10 years since a Finn was last on pole. I’m very proud as always to drive for Finland and represent my country. It’s not an easy track to get everything right. It’s quite a technical and there are a few tricky corners. But I I’ve been getting more and more comfortable with the car and managed to get the lap together. Thankfully it was good enough for pole. I just want to say a big thanks to the team for giving me this car. It’s great that we’re both starting from the front row. We’ve done a really good job this weekend to focus on the evening conditions and really maximise the lap time in the car. We’ll enjoy this for a short period of time – but the main focus is the race tomorrow. There is no point to start dreaming just yet. It’s all about getting the maximum out of the race. As a team we can be really strong tomorrow.
Lewis Hamilton: A big congratulations to Valtteri. He’s been working so hard and he’s gelled so well with the team. Today he was just quicker than me and did the better job, so hats off to him on his first pole. My lap felt great but it was so close out there. I was losing quite a bit of time through the first sector, which is unusual as it’s usually a very strong sector for me. Overall it was a great battle and that’s exactly how close qualifying should always be. It forces us to be on the absolute limit. I’m happy with the job I did and it’ s great for the team to lockout our first front row. Today we had a bit of a margin over the Ferraris but generally in race trim they seem to be a bit quicker, so we expect them to be closer tomorrow. It’s definitely going to be tight. Looking after the tyres is difficult, so whether it is a one or two stop race will be interesting to see. Hopefully we’ll have a great battle tomorrow.
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: That’s a fantastic result in a really close qualifying session with some great competition between the drivers. I’m very pleased for Valtteri. It was a tough race last weekend in China but he has been chipping away at his qualifying performances and he did a great job this evening, finding the last few hundredths on his second run in Q3. As for Lewis, he couldn’t quite improve on that final run – but for the first time this season we have both cars on the front row of the grid. The gap to Ferrari looks pretty good here but their drivers were complaining of understeer, so perhaps they have gone with more of a race set-up in mind. And then there’s Red Bull. You always have to have them on the radar because they have all the resources they need to be fighting at the front. Tomorrow’s race will be all about surviving on the tyres and making the right decisions in terms of strategy. We’re starting from the best possible positions and we now need to get the heads down and work hard to convert it into podium finishes tomorrow.
Source: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport