We are now in the final stretch of the 2020 Formula 1 season as Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix will be the first of three consecutive races to end the year. Even though Lewis Hamilton wrapped up his seventh world championship at the Turkish Grand Prix two weeks ago, there is plenty to fight for in the last three weeks of the season. Third place in the constructor’s standings is tightly-contested, the second seat at Red Bull Racing is still undecided, and many drivers below the top-three are fighting for position in the standings.
Last year in the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc won his first pole position for Ferrari and retook the lead from Mercedes after his teammate, Sebastian Vettel, spun and lost his front wing. Leclerc was cruising toward victory when his engine suffered issues, dropping his pace. It allowed Hamilton to pass him and win his first race of 2019. Leclerc, who was also passed by Valtteri Bottas, had to settle for third, his first F1 podium.
Hamilton secured his 10th pole of the season, two below his career record of 12 in 2016. Bottas, who is looking to rebound from a 14th place finish in the Turkish Grand Prix, will start second, the 10th time in 2020 the front row is locked out by Mercedes .
Max Verstappen will start third. He sits 27 points behind Bottas in the driver standings with nine podiums and one win, but four DNFs. He finished sixth in the Turkish GP, the first time this season he did not reach the podium in a race he finished in 2020.
His teammate, Alexander Albon, starts fourth. This is a big weekend for him as Sergio Perez, who does not have a ride next season, is threatening to take Albon’s seat at Red Bull after his podium at Turkey. Albon only qualified six-tenths of a second behind Verstappen after crashing out of Friday’s second practice. It is the fourth time he will start fourth in 2020. Perez will start fifth as his future remains uncertain.
The Renaults, Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon, will start sixth and seventh. The difference between their qualifying sessions was 0.002 seconds. Ricciardo finished 10th at Turkey, dropping him from fourth to sixth in the driver standings below Perez and Leclerc. This is Ocon’s best start since he qualified seventh in the Russian Grand Prix.
The two AlphaTauri drivers, Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat, will start eighth and 10th. Gasly is looking to rebound from 20th and 13th-place finishes in his last two races. Kvyat is racing for his future as well as the team is deciding between him and F2 phenom Yuki Tsunoda for the second seat alongside Gasly in 2021.
Lando Norris will start ninth, six spots ahead of McLaren teammate Carlos Sainz, who spun out during Q2. Last year’s Bahrain GP saw Leclerc and Vettel start on the front row. This year, they will start 11th and 12th with Vettel ahead of Leclerc. However, this is the same start as the Turkish GP for them as Vettel and Leclerc went on to finish third and fourth.
If you are watching in the United States, coverage for the Bahrain Grand Prix will begin at 9:00 a.m. EST. You can catch the race on ESPN2.