|© Andrew Ferraro/Williams
Qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday threw in a couple of bizarre times in the first leg of the session.
Williams teammates Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas clocked identical times of 1 minute 34.425 seconds in Q1 but the it was the rookie who progressed to the second leg as he had set the time first.
"We ran new option tyres in Q1 on both cars to give us the best chance (to get into Q2), but unfortunately we didn’t quite manage this with Pastor, despite both drivers posting identical times," said technical director Mike Coughlan. "The times were extremely close, with Valtteri just 0.4 seconds off Q3, so there was a chance we could have achieved more."
Bottas went on to qualify 15th, two places ahead of the Venezuelan.
If that wasn’t enough, Romain Grosjean and Lewis Hamilton also recorded the exact same time to a thousandths of a second with a time of 1 minute 33.498 seconds but the Lotus slotted ahead of the Mercedes in the session.
“It’s obviously disappointing to miss out on Q3 but it’s just one of those things,” said Grosjean who eventually qualified 11th. “There weren’t any issues with the car, we just tried to be a little too brave by doing just one run and unfortunately it didn’t pay off.
“On the positive side, we’ve found a lot of performance this weekend compared to the first three races and our pace on the prime tyres in Q1 looked very strong,” the Frenchman added.
Perhaps the strangest set of identical times came during qualifying for the 1997 European Grand Prix at Jerez, in what was the season-ending race and a title-decider.
Jacques Villeneuve, Michael Schumacher and Heinz-Harald Frentzen had set the exact same times of 1 minute 21.072 seconds, which was good for the top spot, but it was the Canadian who was awarded pole position as his efforts were recorded first among the three.