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Bottas takes maiden F1 pole

NEWS STORY
15/04/2017

Ahead of today's qualifying session the air temperature is 30 degrees C, while the track temperature is 0 degrees - according to officials. As the sun sets so the temperature goes down also, especially that of the track surface, which explains why many believe that FP1 and FP3 are pretty much redundant here.

While Max Verstappen topped the timesheets earlier, it would be a shock to see the Red Bull claim pole position.

While the temperatures will have eased over the break, the blustery winds that were causing all manner of handling issues haven't. Indeed, they are expected to increase tomorrow for the race.

Based on the evidence thus far, it's a close call between Mercedes and Ferrari, though perhaps we shouldn't rule out Red Bull just yet.

Sebastian Vettel has topped the timesheets in two of the three sessions, while FP3 witnessed Lewis Hamilton's best result of the weekend, the Briton finishing second.

The Briton has had a frustrating weekend, traffic spoiling his flying laps on Friday and the red flag that followed Romain Grosjean's crash in FP3 once again costing him.

At the same time, following his "stupid mistake" in China, Valtteri Bottas is looking to make amends, whilst Kimi Raikkonen is 'on notice' as far as Sergio Marchionne is concerned.

Nico Hulkenberg has put in some impressive laps this weekend, further muddying the waters as far as the highly ultra-competitive midfield is concerned, and how about Pascal Wehrlein putting his Sauber 13th on the sheets earlier.

Other than discarding T-wings, it's been a trouble-free weekend thus far for Mercedes, while Ferrari and Red Bull have encountered issues at one stage or another.

However, their problems pale into insignificance compared to that of Romain Grosjean who has suffered everything bar a plague of locusts.

Wehrlein gets proceedings underway, followed by Ericsson and Stroll.

Wehrlein posts 33.502 and his Sauber teammate 33.960.

More and more drivers head out, leaving just Vettel and countryman Hulkenberg in the pits.

As Ocon goes second (33.657), Grosjean has a big, big lock-up in T1 at the start of his flying lap.

No sooner has Stroll gone quickest (32.891) than he is demoted by Perez and then Bottas (31.041).

As Hamilton begins his first flying lap, Kvyat goes second and Palmer fourth.

As was the case yesterday, Hamilton, having gone quickest in S1, opts to abort the lap. However, it's not due to traffic this time, rather the fact that he ran wide in T10.

Ocon complains that his DRS is not working as Verstappen goes quickest with 30.904.

Clearly unperturbed by his earlier off, Hamilton posts 30.814 to go quickest.

Vettel goes third (31.037) and Raikkonen seventh (31.683) as the top guns first their first salvo.

As Massa goes fifth, Alonso goes tenth only to be demoted by his own teammate who posts 32.558.

With 6 minutes remaining, Stroll, Magnussen, Ericsson, Ocon and Grosjean comprise the drop zone. Indeed, Grosjean has yet to post a time.

As in FP3, an impressive performance from Wehrlein, who has put his Sauber 11th.

As Grosjean begins his final attempt, the Haas fuelled for two laps, Raikkonen heads out also.

Only four drivers, Hamilton, Vettel, Raikkonen and Bottas posted their times on softs, the rest were on Supers.

Grosjean goes eighth with a 31.691, which should be enough to get him through.

Raikkonen posts a PB in S1 as Vandoorne complains that his brakes are poor. In S2 Raikkonen goes quickest, the Finn crossing the line at 30.988 to go third despite losing time behind Perez in the final sector, and despite losing his monkey seat as he ran wide behind the Force India.

Now Sainz goes quickest in S1 as the chequered flag is waved.

A 31.458 sees Palmer go seventh as Alonso goes thirteenth.

Ocon also improves while Force India teammate fails to improve and misses the cut.

Sainz has pulled to the side of the track. "No power, no power," he sighs.

Quickest is Hamilton, ahead of Verstappen, Raikkonen, Vettel, Bottas, Hulkenberg, Massa, Palmer, Kvyat and Ricciardo.

We lose Sainz, Vandoorne, Perez, Ericsson and Magnussen.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Bahrain, here.

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