Bottas secures his sixteenth pole, Russell qualifies on the front row for the first time and the Red Bull junior team enjoy their best qualifying streak since 2015. Here are the facts and statistics from qualifying at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix!
BOTTAS ON POLE
Valtteri Bottas took pole position for the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix. It was the sixteenth pole of Bottas’ career and his second pole at Bahrain International Circuit. He’s the fifth different driver to have taken multiple pole positions at the track. This was his fifth pole of the 2020 season.
With his sixteenth career pole, Bottas equalled Stirling Moss and Felipe Massa as the driver with the ninteenth most poles in Formula 1 history.
Bottas recorded Mercedes’ seventh pole in Bahrain, extending the team’s record of most pole positions at the circuit.
Bottas’ pole time clocked in at 53.377 seconds. That is a new record for the shortest pole lap time in Formula 1. The former record, a 58.79 seconds lap set by Niki Lauda at the 1974 French Grand Prix, had stood for over 46 years.
RUSSELL IMPRESSES ON MERCEDES DEBUT
With Lewis Hamilton out of action due to contracting coronavirus, George Russell stepped into his seat. Russell missed out on pole by only 0.026 seconds. That’s the 57th closest qualifying session in F1 history, tying with the 2018 Mexican Grand Prix, where Daniel Ricciardo took pole by 0.026 seconds. This was the second smallest pole margin recorded at Bahrain International Circuit. The only smaller pole margin was set by Bottas, when he took his first pole at the circuit by 0.023 seconds in 2017.
Russell reached Q3 for the first time in his career. His previous best qualifying result was twelfth, recorded at the Styrian and Hungarian Grands Prix earlier in 2020. Russell reached Q3 for the first time on his 37th F1 appearance. Adrian Sutil is the only driver to have made more appearances before reaching Q3 for the first time. He did so on his 44th appearance, at the 2009 German Grand Prix.
Russell was out-qualified by a team-mate for the first time in his career. It ends a 36 race streak of Russell out-qualifying his team-mate. Russell’s streak currently stands as the equal third longest such streak in F1 history, level with Nelson Piquet’s streak of out-qualifying his team-mate at 36 consecutive races between 1979 and 1982.
Russell becomes the 25th British driver to have started on the front row in Formula 1. The 24th British driver to start on the front row was Lewis Hamilton, who did so for the first time at the Bahrain track in 2007.
It may have been a bad omen if Russell had taken pole. Three drivers previously took pole on their 37th appearance – Lorenzo Bandini, James Hunt and Didier Pironi. All three retired from the race in which they started from pole for the first time.
With Bottas on pole and Russell second, Mercedes recorded their fifth front row lock out in Bahrain. It was their thirteenth front row lock out of the 2020 season.
THE TOP TEN
Charles Leclerc equalled his best qualifying of the year with fourth place. It’s the fourth time Leclerc has qualified fourth in 2020, having also done so at the British, Eifel and Portuguese Grands Prix.
Sergio Perez qualified in the top five for the fourth time in the last five races. This is the second weekend in a row that Perez has qualified in fifth place, equalling his best qualifying result at the circuit.
With sixth place, Daniil Kvyat qualified in the top six for the ninth time in his career. It’s his best qualifying result since the 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix and the first time he has out-qualified Gasly since the Tuscan Grand Prix.
Daniel Ricciardo qualified in seventh place for the Sakhir Grand Prix. In nine appearances at the Bahrain International Circuit, Ricciardo is still yet to be out-qualified by a team-mate at the venue.
Qualifying in eighth place, Carlos Sainz reached Q3 for the first time since the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Pierre Gasly qualified in ninth place and was out-qualified by Kvyat, ending a streak of six races in which Gasly has out-qualified Kvyat. With both of the Red Bull junior team’s drivers in Q3 for the last two weekends, this is the first time that AlphaTauri/Toro Rosso have reached Q3 with both cars at two consecutive races since the 2015 Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix.
Lance Stroll qualified in tenth place, marking the first time that he has reached Q3 at the Bahrain International Circuit. In five appearances, Stroll is still yet to out-qualify a team-mate at this venue.
With Perez fifth and Stroll tenth for Racing Point, this was the first time that the Silverstone-based team have reached Q3 with both cars at the Bahrain International Circuit since the 2013 Bahrain Grand Prix.
OUT IN Q2
Alex Albon failed to reach Q3 for the third time in 2020, qualifying in twelfth place. It was the first time he’s missed out on Q3 since the British Grand Prix. This is the sixth time in the last eight Bahrain races that only one Red Bull driver has qualified in the top ten.
Sebastian Vettel qualified in thirteenth place, which is the worst qualifying result for a Ferrari driver in Bahrain since Felipe Massa qualified fourteenth for the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix.
Antonio Giovinazzi reached Q2 for the third time in 2020. It’s the third time he has done so in the last six races. Qualifying in fourteenth, the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix is the first time that Giovinazzi has not qualified sixteenth in Bahrain.
Lando Norris recorded his worst qualifying result of 2020 with fifteenth place. It’s his worst qualifying result since qualifying sixteenth at the 2019 German Grand Prix. Norris loses his 100% Q3 appearance rate at the Bahrain International Circuit.
OUT IN Q1
With Nicholas Latifi seventeenth and Jack Aitken eighteenth, this is the first time since the 2017 Bahrain Grand Prix that a Williams driver has not qualified in 20th place in Bahrain. Latifi out-qualified his team-mate for the first time in his career, out-qualifying Aitken by 0.096 seconds.
Kimi Raikkonen qualified in nineteenth for the Sakhir Grand Prix. It’s the sixth time Raikkonen has qualified on the back row in 2020.
Pietro Fittipaldi qualified in twentieth place on his F1 debut. He was out-qualified by Kevin Magnussen by 0.721 seconds. The 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix will be the first time that a member of the Fittipaldi family will start in twentieth place since Christian Fittipaldi did so at the 1994 British Grand Prix.
After graduating in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky Haldenby, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. The blog has become a firm fan-favourite, delving deep into the sport’s history books and lifting the cover on unusual F1 statistics.
Nicky also writes at F1Destinations and Motorsport Guides and can be heard as the resident stats man on the 2 Soft Compounds Podcast. His work has appeared on WTF1, BadgerGP, motorsport.com, Sky Sports F1 and BBC Radio 5 Live. Nicky is also the host of the F1 Rewind Podcast.