Daniel qualified in fifth place at the Bahrain International Circuit, but the Aussie will start tomorrow’s race from fourth place once Lewis Hamilton takes the gearbox-related penalty that will drop him from P4 to P9 on the grid.
But while Daniel’s session at Sakhir went according to plan, there was misery for Max, with the Dutchman crashing out in Q1, causing him to start from P15 tomorrow.
Max’s opening run in Q1 had gone smoothly and with a time of 1:29.374 he slotted into fourth place behind Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas. The Dutchman went for another attempt, however, and on the exit of Turn 2 he lost control over the kerbs on the outside of the corner. He spun and hit the barriers in Turn 3 nose first, damaging the front left suspension and his chances of a top 10 grid spot.
Daniel, meanwhile, netted P6 with an opening lap of 1:29.552, behind Hamilton, and retreated to the garage confident that the time would ensure smooth passage to Q2.
And after the action resumed following the red flag brought out by Max’s crash, the Australian’s instincts proved correct as he stayed in the garage for the final runs and went through unchallenged as his rivals failed to find the improvement necessary to shunt him down the order.
Ahead of Daniel, Kimi Räikkönen, who had gone quickest in FP2 and FP3 continued to lead the way by taking P1 in the opening qualifying session ahead of Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas.
At the other end of the order McLaren’s Fernando Alonso had a lucky escape from the drop zone. Ahead of the final runs, the Spaniard was in P17. He managed to claw his way to P15 at the end of the session but only just. His time of 1:30.530 was matched by Haas’ Romain Grosjean, but Alonso edged through having set the time first.
Grosjean, who might have been closer to seventh-placed team-mate Kevin Magnussen but for a mistake on his final run, was thus eliminated in 16th place ahead of Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson, Williams’ Sergey Sirotkin, the second Sauber of Charles Leclerc and the second Williams of Lance Stroll.
Daniel had an equally comfortable time in Q2 easing into the final part of the session with a time of 1:28.962. Once again, confidence in his time was borne out as rivals behind again failed to find significant improvement and Daniel went through in fifth place as Bottas edged ahead late on.
At the top Vettel moved ahead of Räikkönen for the first time during the weekend so far to claim top spot, while the Ferraris were split by Hamilton. Eliminated this time were Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley in 11th place, ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez, Alonso, his McLaren team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne and the unfortunate Max.
Vettel was the first to show his hand in Q3 but while he took P1 with a time of 1:29.196 there was a mistake in the final corner as he went marginally wide. That allowed Räikkönen to sneak past and the Finn took provisional pole by 0.095s. Hamilton slotted into third, a tenth behind the top two, with Bottas fourth ahead of Daniel and the day’s surprise package Pierre Gasly of Toro Rosso.
There were no errors on Vettel’s second attempt, however, and he rose to the top of the order with a lap of 1:27.958. The German was the only man to dip below the 1m28s mark and he thus took his 51st pole with just over four hundredths of a second ahead of Räikkönen.
Bottas took third and when Hamilton failed to improve Daniel settled for fifth place, safe in the knowledge that he will start from fourth place on the grid, as Hamilton will drop to P9 tomorrow thanks to a grid penalty for a gearbox change.
Gasly continued to impress with sixth place in qualifying that will turn into an excellent fifth place on the grid. The French driver finished ahead of Magnussen, Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, Force India’s Esteban Ocon and Carlos Sainz in the second Renault.
- Max is set to start in the same position he occupied at this first Bahrain GP back in 2015. On that occasion, from 15th, he failed to finish, exiting the race after 34 laps. It was also the last time Max has started 15th.
- Daniel will start from fourth place for the second consecutive Bahrain Grand Prix. Last year he finished fifth.
- Daniel’s fourth place on tomorrow’s grid will be the team’s eighth start from a top-five position in Bahrain.