Valtteri Bottas beat his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to pole position for the first time on Saturday, going quickest in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Finn improved dramatically during the final session, while Ferrari and Red Bull failed to build on the promise shown in the practice sessions. Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo will start on the second row, with Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen finishing fifth and sixth in qualifying, respectively.
Read on for a full recap of qualifying and the final practice session.
Here's a look at the timesheets:
Formula 1 @F1
PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION: END OF QUALIFYING First ever #F1 pole for @ValtteriBottas 🙌 #BahrainGP 🇧🇭 https://t.co/Hx3QZrvWQt4/15/2017, 4:13:55 PM
Bottas was the first of the top runners to come out, with the returning Pascal Wehrlein topping the standings at the time, well ahead of team-mate Marcus Ericsson. Once again, Hamilton had to abort his first attempt after locking up, although he did manage a solid lap on the soft compound.
Mercedes liked what they saw from their star:
Mercedes-AMG F1 @MercedesAMGF1
Wow! #LH44 hammers in a 1:30.814 and goes P1 on the Softs 👏 #Quali #BahrainGP #F1 https://t.co/U8rpolr1zR4/15/2017, 3:11:23 PM
McLaren made a fine impression in the first qualifying session, but some brake issues meant Stoffel Vandoorne did not advance.
Ricciardo and Raikkonen were notably slower than their team-mates, Verstappen and Vettel. The Finn even ventured out on the super softs to improve his position and still wasn't able to beat Hamilton's time, set on a harder compound.
Carlos Sainz didn't survive the first qualifying session, as his Toro Rosso suffered yet another failure during his flying lap, with the Spaniard setting the fastest first sector. As shared by BBC F1, he wasn't the only big name to miss out on Q2:
Q1: DONE. Lewis Hamilton is fastest but Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez are in all sorts of trouble. ➡️ https://t.co/mGiuXD0uqh https://t.co/vwRiT1phNh4/15/2017, 3:20:18 PM
Hamilton, Bottas and Vettel all set lap times within one tenth of each other on the super softs to start Q2, a sign we could be in for a tight race on Sunday.
Fernando Alonso didn't get the chance to set a time, another blow for McLaren, while the two Renault cars both advanced to Q3, a first in the team's full return to F1.
Bottas made a major statement early in the shootout with a lap time of 1:28.84, over a second faster than the top time at that moment, courtesy of Ricciardo. Not to be outdone, Hamilton went even faster, posting a 1:28.792.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner wasn't surprised b their sudden turn of pace, via Channel 4 F1:
Channel 4 F1® @C4F1
Christian Horner: "Mercedes have that little bit extra in the last part of Qualy - I wouldn't be surprised by an all-Mercedes front row" https://t.co/fo1yzcsnoI4/15/2017, 3:49:38 PM
Ferrari lost about half a second during the first runs and couldn't even secure the second row in the final runs, with Ricciardo sneaking past Raikkonen. Hamilton had a poor middle sector during his final push for pole, and Bottas took full advantage.
The Formula One Twitter feed broke down the results in full from the day's early runs, with Verstappen producing an excellent lap:
Formula 1 @F1
PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION: END OF FP3 Late scorcher from VER steals the show 🔥 Don't miss #Quali in just under two hours ⌚️ #BahrainGP https://t.co/dhLRv6jQGS4/15/2017, 1:08:30 PM
As is often the case in FP3 the drivers did take a while to settle down, with most competitors heading out of the garage for an installation lap before darting straight back. Although as the lap times started to go up, an intriguing session unfolded.
Having shown his pace on Day 1 by topping both practice sessions, Vettel was the man most were keeping tabs on on Saturday.
Per the Autosport Live Twitter account, although he made an early error, the pace of the Ferrari was able to carry him through:
Autosport Live @autosportlive
Vettel still goes third for Ferrari with that mistake, three tenths slower than Verstappen. #F14/15/2017, 12:45:58 PM
Vettel wasn't the only driver struggling to get a handle on the Bahrain circuit, though, with drivers complaining about a lack of grip in all three sessions.
Verstappen nearly had a big accident at Turn 4, although he was able to straighten the car up before encountering any serious issues. The same could not be said for Romain Grosjean, though, who was struggling to keep his Haas under wraps.
As we can see here, eventually it proved to be too difficult for the Frenchman:
Formula 1 @F1
📻 GRO: "I've got a lot of oversteer now. We need to come in and change the front wing" #FP3 #BahrainGP 🇧🇭 https://t.co/xyxeKe6i4v4/15/2017, 12:37:01 PM
Formula 1 @F1
RED FLAG And just a few moments later, the Frenchman puts his Haas into the wall #BahrainGP 🇧🇭 #FP3 https://t.co/KLQomrp0sQ4/15/2017, 12:40:06 PM
When the action resumed, the drivers started to show more accurate signs of their qualifying pace, with the big names moving to the top.
Vettel was able to get back to the summit, usurping Mercedes man Valtteri Bottas by four thousandths of a second. But on the supersoft compound, Verstappen was able to make his move, putting in a searing time of 1:32.194.
The team's official Twitter account was pleased:
Red Bull Racing @redbullracing
FP3 done. Feeling those quali vibes? You bet! 💪🕺 #givesyouwings #BahrainGP https://t.co/kiQi2O80wF4/15/2017, 1:11:50 PM
Verstappen's time did look poised to come under threat from Hamilton late on, as he set the quickest first sector time so far. However, the Brit was unable to match the pace of the 19-year-old over a full circuit, finishing in a tenth back in second.
BBC Radio 5 live's Mark Gallagher noted that Hamilton "didn't even meet the apexes" on his fastest lap, though. It means an entertaining qualifying is in store.