Valtteri Bottas on pole as George Russell qualifies second at Sakhir
MANAMA – Valtteri Bottas put Mercedes on pole position for the Sakhir Grand Prix on Saturday with new team mate George Russell, standing in for the absent Lewis Hamilton, securing the front-row lockout.
Red Bull's Max Verstappen qualified third for Sunday's floodlit Formula One race with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc a surprising fourth.
Hamilton has already won the title, his record-equalling seventh, but the Briton is isolating after testing positive for COVID-19.
"It wasn't one of my best qualifyings, but I'm happy it was enough," said a relieved Bottas, who was only 0.026 seconds quicker than Russell on the fast and short outer layout of Bahrain's Sakhir circuit.
Russell, who has yet to score a point in 36 races with his struggling regular team Williams, has seized his opportunity with both hands and was quickest in both practice sessions on Friday.
Saturday was the first time the 22-year-old Briton had been outqualified by a team mate in his F1 career to date but his effort was sensational enough.
"Gutted to miss out on pole by 20 milliseconds but if you'd told me last week I'd be qualifying P2 on the grid next week I think I wouldn't have believed you," he said.