Imperious Hamilton on pole for Bahrain GP, Russell equals Formula 1 record
Lewis Hamilton proved he is determined there will be no let up over in the wake of claiming his seventh Formula 1 world title by clinching the 98th pole position of his career.
Hamilton was imperious at the Bahrain International Circuit as he was quickest in all three qualifying sessions, culminating in a new track record of one minute 27.264secs for his 10th pole in 15 races this term.
The Briton finished almost three-tenths of a second faster than Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, giving the team its 11th front-row lock-out this season, and 75th in its history.
Max Verstappen was ousted from second on the grid at the death by Bottas, finishing 0.125s adrift of the Finn, albeit he starts on the clean side of the track.
It is the first time since the introduction of the hybrid era in 2014 that a Red Bull has qualified in the top three in Bahrain.
Verstappen will be joined on the second row by team-mate Alex Albon, with the Thai-British driver recovering superbly from a heavy crash into a barrier in FP2, albeit half-a-second behind the Dutchman.
Behind the leading quartet, Racing Point's Sergio Perez was a superb fifth, edging Renault's Daniel Ricciardo into sixth, with the Australian out-qualifying team-mate Esteban Ocon for the 14th time this season, with the Frenchman seventh.
On the initial flying lap in Q2, Norris' team-mate Carlos Sainz was hurtling into turn one when the rear axle of his McLaren appeared to lock, sending him into a spin from which he was unable to get going again.
It forced FIA race director and safety delegate Michael Masi to red flag the session with nine minutes and 50 seconds remaining just as Ricciardo was about to post the first timed lap, leaving the field to abort.
But it shows how far Ferrari has fallen over the 19 months since last year's Bahrain GP when the Scuderia were first and second fastest throughout all practice and qualifying sessions.
Lance Stroll, on pole for the first time in his F1 career just a fortnight ago in Turkey and who was second quickest in Q1, will start a lowly 13th due to what the Canadian suggested was "a miscommunication".
It later materialised that Stroll went out on a used set of mediums after the red flag, rather than a fresh set, arguably compromising him on lap time.
For the ninth time in 15 races this season George Russell, otherwise known as 'Mr Saturday', reached Q2 and will start 14th, finishing 0.9s ahead in Q1 of team-mate Nicholas Latifi who starts last.
Russell's record against a team-mate in qualifying now stands at 36-0, equalling a record set by Nelson Piquet between the 1979 Italian GP and 1982 Belgian GP.
With Sainz 15th after naturally failing to set a time in Q2, on the grid between the Williams drivers will be the usual suspects in Alfa Romeo duo Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen in 16th and 17th, with the Italian 0.319s ahead of the veteran Finn.
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