The sun has set in Bahrain and the temperature has started to drop, but the strong winds from this afternoon have finally dropped away, but there are still some strong gusts blowing across the track which could give some drivers problems in turn four.
Q1 got underway in the usual laid back manor for the top teams sitting in their garages until midway through the session.
Haas who have struggled all weekend are still in the bottom five places with both cars, but with two and half minutes to go, the frantic session starts and all cars from Raikkonen in seventh place down are out on track.
Hamilton, Verstappen, Vettel, Bottas, Massa and Ricciardo are sitting this final showdown out. Grosjean who was running in last place pops up in eighth place and then Raikkonen runs wide losing his Monkey Seat on the kerbs goes third fastest.
It’s out of time and out of luck for Sainz in sixteenth place, who also runs out of fuel while on a faster lap and then Magnussen is in the second Haas in last place.
Force India is struggling as well with Perez out, but Ocon makes it into Q2 along with Alonso in the McLaren-Honda, Vandoorne in the other McLaren is out in P16. A mixed bag in the both five cars, but with Perez and Magnussen so far down the field, there should be some good action and overtaking in the race from both these drivers.
Wehrlein in the Sauber in his first GP of the year has finally made his mark, bring the Sauber home in fourteenth place which is great result for the German driver after the difficult start to the season.
Q2 is not as laid back with top teams out early to set the lap and keep the tyres clean and free of flat spots from locking up the tyres under braking.
Red Bull are in the mix, the cars enjoying the dropping temperatures and Verstappen splitting the Mercedes early on. Ferrari are not as fast as they had been in free practise, but don’t rule them out just yet.
Once again with only two and half minutes to go the frantic laps begin, led by Grosjean in the Haas as he goes to P8 and followed by Kvyat in the Toro Rosso. Stroll in the Williams is also struggling while his team mate Massa is up in the top seven.
Alonso is in the garage and not in the car, not taking part in the session due to another broken engine. No need to dwell on the Honda engine woes, but with a new engine being tested next week, there is hope that they can recover in the second phase of the session when F1 arrives in Europe.
So we say goodbye to Wehrlein in the Sauber and Ocon in the Force India along with Kvyat and Stroll, but Renault, not mentioned yet are in Q3.
Hulkenberg and Palmer have made the leap into Q3. Hulkenberg is up in P5 as Q2 ends and Palmer in P10. This a fantastic result for the Renault team, with both drivers pushing the cars ahead of Force India and Toro Rosso today, the fight for fourth place in the championship is shaping up nicely.
Q3 starts with Bottas streaking ahead of everyone posting a time of 1:28.844 while Hamilton is only a fraction of a second faster 1:28.792. Ferrari can only put in 1:29 times while Verstappen is the fastest of the Red Bull’s.
Massa in the Williams is quietly going about his business, hardly talked about this weekend, but putting a sterling performance and putting the Williams in P8.
As the minutes tick down, its Bottas that leads the charge out of the garages, followed by Hamilton and the Red Bull’s, then the red Ferrari’s flee the pit lane as the frantic final laps start.
Bottas and Hamilton are pushing each other on track with their sector times, but it’s Bottas with a 1:28.769 that takes pole position. Hamilton cannot find an answer for the Finn’s pace and for the first time since 2008 we have a Finn on Pole Position.
Vettel keeps Ricciardo at bay, but the Red Bull has split the Ferrari’s and Verstappen is down in sixth place, behind Raikkonen. Red Bull are happy to split the Ferrari’s, but Verstappen is behind his team mate Ricciardo, who needs to score points and reclaim his number one status in the team.
Hulkenberg in the Renault has just beaten the Williams of Massa who has to settle for P8, while Grosjean in the Haas has finally found his form today and taken P9, leaving Palmer in the second Renault in P10.
Renault can be proud today, this a great result for the team and was expected to come later in the year, but a welcome boost for the team. Grosjean again is showing that Haas is a force to be concerned over by the midfield teams and after his crash in FP3, it’s a great result today.
Hamilton and Vettel congratulate the overjoyed Bottas celebrating his first Pole Position, hopefully he can go on to win tomorrow, but with Ferrari and Red Bull only fractions of a second behind them, it’s going to be close tomorrow night in the desert.
Colin Logan for In2Motorsports.com