Published: Sun, April 16, 2017
Sports | By Nelson Rowe

Valtteri Bottas Beats Lewis Hamilton To Earn First Career F1 Pole

However, Vettel - who is level with Lewis Hamilton at the top of the drivers' standings with the rivals having won one race apiece this season - was 0.478 seconds adrift of Valtteri Bottas, the Mercedes man clinching his first career pole.

For the first time since joining Hamilton at Mercedes, Bottas outqualified the triple world champion to claim the first pole of his F1 career. I don't think for a long time it's been more than three or four drivers, but I'm really happy that it is more than just the two of us. We need to look at everything we can, work as a team and plan a good strategy for the race.

"It's all about focusing on the race".

"We've made a really good job this weekend to focus on the evening conditions and to get a lot of lap time out of this vehicle in slightly cooler conditions".

"Obviously I am really happy".

Later Saturday, Hamilton was looking for his third straight pole position of the season after going quickest in Australia and China.

"It's credit to the team as we are both starting in the front row. We are both starting on the front row and I really managed to get a lot of lap time out the auto in the cooler night time conditions".

He said: "Massive congratulations to Valtteri". "He's been working so hard, and today he was just quicker and he did a better job".

"I was losing quite a bit of time through the first sector, it's generally my weaker point which is actually unusual, usually a stronger point for me". "It will definitely be a close battle". It forces us all to be on the limit.

Of his hot lap in the desert, Bottas said: "It's not an easy track to get everything right". I was quite safe to the cars behind, I was confident, the auto felt good so I tried a bit harder. "Hopefully it's going to be a tight race and then we see".

Team boss Toto Wolff was delighted with the turnaround, even if he would have been equally happy with another Hamilton pole, and recalled his conversation with Bottas after the Finn arrived in Bahrain from Shanghai.

Bottas, who is slightly more animated than countryman Kimi Raikkonen, but not a lot, smiled happily but looked nearly embarrassed by all the attention. "For sure, we will try to do the same tomorrow - to get back in the points, as we saw this was possible last week".

The drivers will return to the track later for qualifying as they seek to secure the best grid position possible for Sunday's race.

Max Verstappen was a further 0.142s off teammate Ricciardo in sixth, but held off the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg, which was just 0.155s slower in seventh.

It's not to be forgotten this is just his third year in F1, not a huge depth of experience, but he has shocked many critics who initially didn't give him the time of day.

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