Continuing on the form Red Bull had shown in the last race of the 2020 season, Max Verstappen roared to pole position at the Bahrain GP, beating Lewis Hamilton.
Verstappen managed to live up to pre-season expectations to get pole position
Continuing on the form Red Bull had shown in the last race of the 2020 season and the pre-season testing for the 2021 season, Max Verstappen roared to pole position at the Bahrain GP qualifying session. Chasing him is seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and his teammate Valtteri Bottas in the Mercedes finding themselves distinctly second best perhaps for the first time in the turbo-hybrid era of F1.
Red Bull’s gains have been based on aerodynamic improvements, changes in the floor instructed by 2021 rules that seemingly give an advantage to its high rake car and Honda’s last power unit which some believed had usurped Mercedes. And these murmurs came true as even Pierre Gasly in the sister AlphaTauri car managing P5 just behind the flying Ferrari of Charles Leclerc who managed P4 in the improved prancing horse.
Leclerc’s new teammate Carlos Sainz managed just P8 but for the large part of qualifying, he was looking the quicker one of the two. The Ferrari’s could also have an advantage during the start of the race as they are going to start on the soft compound tyre which they used to great effect to come P1 and P2 in Q2.
The McLaren pair of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris managed P6 and P7 seemingly not as rapid as they appeared to be in pre-season testing. Sainz was followed by veteran and two-time world champion Fernando Alonso who lifted the lethargic Alpine in a typically powerful qualifying effort. The top 10 were covered by Lance Stroll in the Aston Martin which is seeming to be a handful.
P11 went to Red Bull’s new recruit Sergio Perez whose attempt to finish Q2 in the medium set of tyres put him on the backfoot. He is followed by Antonio Giovinazzi in the Alfa Romeo and Honda rookie Yuki Tsunoda in the AlphaTauri who looked spectacular. The oldest man on the grid, Kimi Raikkonen managed P14 in the second Alfa Romeo which seems to be faster this year thanks to impressive development and the new Ferrari engine.
George Russell hauled up the improved Williams in P15 who was tailed by fellow Mercedes contracted driver Esteban Ocon who managed P16 in the Alpine far behind his veteran teammate Alonso.
Nicholas Latifi managed P17 in the Williams who is tailed by Sebastian Vettel in the Aston Martin whose P3 effort was vexed by two yellow flags triggered by an engine problem in Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari and a spin by Nikita Mazepin who just managed P20 himself in the Haas.
His more famous teammate, Mick Schumacher, the reigning F2 champion and son of legendary 7-time world champion Michael Schumacher managed P19 and was the faster of the two Haas cars which are looking like the ones who will be at the back of the field in 2021.
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:28.997
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:29.385
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:29.586
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:29.678
5 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1:29.809
6 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1:29.927
7 Lando Norris McLaren 1:29.974
8 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:30.215
10 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1:30.249
10 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:30.601
11 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:30.659
12 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 1:30.708
13 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:31.203
14 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 1:31.238
15 George Russell Williams 1:33.430
16 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:31.724
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:31.936
18 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1:32.056
19 Mick Schumacher Haas 1:32.449
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas 1:33.273
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