Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished fourth with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in Sunday’s Floodlit Formula One race.
Hamilton has already won the title, which is his seventh on record, but Britain is separate after a positive test for Kovid-19.
“It’s not one of my best qualifications, but I’m glad it is enough,” said Bottas, who was 0.026 seconds faster than Russell in the fast and short outline design of Bahrain’s Sakheer circuit.
Russell, who has not yet scored a point in 36 races with his struggling regular team Williams, has seized his opportunity with both hands and was quick in both practice sessions on Friday.
*! * SakhirGP 🇧🇭 # F1 @ GeorgeRussell63 https://t.co/DLPYFUZh8s
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The 22-year-old Briton was the first Saturday to qualify by teammates in his F1 career but his effort was sensible enough.
“I had to miss the pole for 20 milliseconds. But if you said last week, I think I qualify for P2 on the grid next week, I wouldn’t have believed you,” he said.
The 34-year-old Bottas completed the 3.5km circuit in 53.377 seconds, the 16th pole of his career and fifth in the season, but Russell and the Dutchman Verstappen were hot on his heels.
Blink and you’ll miss it history Go onboard with al valetaribatas for the fastest polar lap in history! 🚀 #ShakirGP… https://t.co/tRQSbVXlUv
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Russell, in his second in Formula One, did not enter the qualifying final pole position.
Although Verstappen came into the pole whisker after launching his hopes of Sunday’s race once again as a start, forcing the pair to slip back to third behind Mercedes.
“This track, the lap times are so close, it depends on the start,” said the 23-year-old, one of only two non-Mercedes winners this season. “It’s not easy.”
Verstappen teammate Alexander Alban will be disappointed after being knocked out in the second qualifier.
The Thai driver, who faces an uncertain future in the squad, stands in line 12 after being shaken head-on by team boss Christian Horner.
Sergio Perez will start fifth for the racing point, with Alfatoury’s Daniel Quat at sixth.
Rookies Jack Aitken and Pietro Fittipaldi made their qualifying debut.
Britton stood 18th in Russell’s favor.
Brazilian Fittipaldi, who suffered a serious accident during last weekend’s race, was named in the Haas by Frenchman Romain Grosjean.