Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas outqualfied teammate Lewis Hamilton to take his maiden pole position in Bahrain on Saturday.
Hamilton held provisional pole with a laptime of 1m28.792s after the first runs, but a scruffy middle sector on his final flyer gave the initiative to Bottas, who duly went quicker with 1m28.769s.
The two Mercedes drivers were eventually separated by just 0.023s, as neither Ferrari or Red Bull were able to challenge the Brackley-based team in qualifying.
After topping the two practice sessions on Friday, Sebastian Vettel ended nearly half a second behind in third with a laptime of 1m29.545s.
Daniel Ricciardo was another three tenths adrift in fourth, while Kimi Raikkonen completed the top five in the other Ferrari SF70H.
Max Verstappen had to settle for sixth place in the sister Red Bull, while Nico Hulkenberg put on a stellar lap to place his Renault on the fourth row of the grid. Felipe Massa will join Hulkenberg in eight, ahead of Haas’ Romain Grosjean.
Qualifying marked a major breakthrough for Jolyon Palmer, who progressed to Q3 for the first time in his F1 career. He starts the Bahrain Grand Prix from 10th place.
Daniil Kvyat was the first driver to get eliminated in Q2, while Lance Stroll also failed to make the cut.
Pascal Wehrlein qualified a strong 13th on his F1 return, outqualifying the Force India of Esteban Ocon.
McLaren-Honda’s Fernando Alonso suffered a power unit issue, prevented him from setting any time in Q2.
Meanwhile, Force India’s Sergio Perez and Haas driver Kevin Magnussen were the two big casualties in Q1 after being caught out by double yellow flags on their final flyers. The caution period was caused by Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz, who stopped on track with an unknown issue.
by Rachit Thukral