Lewis Hamilton keeps the foot down in the desert to claim 98th career poll

Red Bull’s Alexander Albon bounces back from write-off in practice to take fourth spot on grid

 Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes in action during the qualifying session for the  Bahrain Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit near Manama. Photograph: Kamran Jebreili/EPA

Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes in action during the qualifying session for the Bahrain Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit near Manama. Photograph: Kamran Jebreili/EPA

 

Lewis Hamilton celebrated his seventh world championship by putting his Mercedes on pole position for Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Hamilton dazzled under the 495 bulbs that light up the Sakhir Circuit to post a new track record and beat team-mate Valtteri Bottas by 0.289 seconds.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen will slot in behind the Mercedes cars, finishing in third, four tenths off Hamilton’s blistering pace.

Hamilton galloped to the championship which drew him level with Michael Schumacher with three rounds to spare in Turkey a fortnight ago.

But the 35-year-old Englishman has shown little signs of taking his foot off the throttle here in the desert, topping two of the three practice sessions before securing another pole against his weary opposition.

Hamilton has already won 10 of the 14 races staged in this Covid-disrupted calendar and his 98th career pole leaves him on track to complete his century before the end of the year, with another race in Bahrain next week, before the season finale in Abu Dhabi on December 13th.

This also marked Mercedes’ 11th frontrow lockout of the campaign.

“I just continue to be amazed by my guys who work so hard, week in week out,” said Hamilton.

“To be up here in Bahrain, I just wanted to come here and enjoy it and that is the most important thing.

“The pressure is off so that was just a release. It is about trying to find the perfect lap, and it was a very clean lap and I was happy with it.”

Alexander Albon is fighting to save his Formula One future, with his seat at Red Bull under threat, and he did little to enhance his prospects by crashing out of practice on Friday.

However, competing in a new chassis after his machine was written off in his practice shunt, Albon qualified fourth, one place ahead of Racing Point’s Sergio Perez who is the front-runner to replace Albon in 2021.

A Ferrari finished fastest in all of the practice sessions and qualifying at this venue last year, but such is the demise of the Scuderia that both Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc failed to make it into the top 10.

Vettel is entering the final weeks of his Ferrari career before he moves to the Racing Point, rebranded as Aston Martin, in 2021. He finished 11th on Saturday, one spot ahead of team-mate Leclerc.

Lance Stroll sprung one of the biggest surprises in recent F1 memory by claiming his maiden career pole at the last round in Istanbul.

But the Canadian will line up 13th in Bahrain, sharing the same row as George Russell after the young Briton preserved his unblemished qualifying record against his Williams team-mates to finish 14th.

Russell’s mighty record now stands at a combined 36-0 against Robert Kubica last year and Nicholas Latifi in 2020. Russell was the best part of one second quicker than Latifi in the sister car.

Leading positions after qualifying

1 Lewis Hamilton (Brit) Mercedes GP 1min 27.264secs, 2 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes GP 1:27.553, 3 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1:27.678, 4 Alexander Albon (Tha) Red Bull 1:28.274, 5 Sergio Perez (Mex) Racing Point 1:28.322, 6 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Renault 1:28.417, 7 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Renault 1:28.419, 8 Pierre Gasly (Fra) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:28.448, 9 Lando Norris (Brit) McLaren 1:28.542, 10 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:28.618, 11 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 1:29.149, 12 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1:29.165, 13 Lance Stroll (Can) Racing Point 1:29.557, 14 George Russell (Brit) Williams 1:31.218, 15 Carlos Sainz (Esp) McLaren 1:28.975, 16 Antonio Giovinazzi (Ita) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:29.491, 17 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:29.810, 18 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 1:30.111, 19 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas F1 1:30.138, 20 Nicholas Latifi (Can) Williams 1:30.182

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.