A lot of the interest in qualifying was already taken away when it came to light that Lewis Hamilton was going to be given a 5 place grid penalty for having to change his gearbox. The presumption was that Sebastian Vettel was going to finish in pole position, and that’s exactly what happened.
Hamilton Didn’t Perform
Hamilton could still fight for pole, but you always felt that the penalty was going to be in the back of his mind. In such situations, he never seems to perform. He came 4th overall, so will start to race in 9th position. It was a huge blow for a Mercedes team that was looking to bounce back from a disappointing opening race.
When that penalty was handed down to Hamilton, it immediately put the pressure on Bottas to perform. The general feeling is that Mercedes still have the fastest car, but Bottas wasn’t able to show that as he lost out to both Ferrari’s and will start to race in 3rd place.
It was a great start to the weekend for Ferrari as they will be looking to further increase their advantage, and Vettel will be hoping that he can make a great start to what he will hope to be the season where he wins his 5th world championship.
Pierre Gasly Was Impressive
Away from the leaders, it was a disappointing qualification for McLaren who were 13th and 14th fastest. They showed promising signs in Australia and would have been hoping to take that confidence into the Bahrain race, but it doesn’t appear like they will be able to contend.
It has been an awful weekend so far for Max Verstappen who had his issues and will start the race in 20th. The biggest talking point from qualifying, however, might have been the performance of Pierre Gasly. The Frenchman was incredibly fast and showed to everyone what the Honda engine is capable of.
That’s everyone including McLaren who swapped their Honda engine for a Renault one. Gasly finished nearly half a second faster than Alonso before the McLaren’s were eliminated in Q2. Gasly went on to finish in 6th place which was an awesome performance for his team. It embarrassed both the McLaren’s and also his teammate Hartley who was around 3 tenths of a second back. It’ll be interesting to see if the Frenchman can back it up in the race.
A Ferrari 1-2?
As far as the race is concerned, it’s hard to see how Vettel won’t be on the top of the podium. He starts in first and will be protected by Raikkonen in 2nd. Bottas will be hoping for a quick start and it doesn’t look like Hamilton will be able to strike from all the way back in 9th. Hopefully, the race throws up a bit of drama. A lot of people feared that this season could be a Mercedes procession, but this race could be a Ferrari one.