Verstappen established himself as the man to beat all weekend in Bahrain, the Dutchman leading qualifying in all three practice sessions and building on this form by finishing his performance in each segment of qualifying.
He beat Hamilton by 0.023s after the first points in Q3 and although Hamilton improved on his second timed lap, the fighter from Verstappen was also going faster with purple times in all three sectors to come back to the top for pole positions. consecutive for the first time in his career.
Mercedes may have been stung, but with Valtteri Bottas coming in third, it confirmed that the Silver Arrows have made big gains through preseason testing and are very much engaged in the fight with Red Bull for the loot, the F1 benefiting from a real two-team battle for pole position.
Red Bull Racing
Charles Leclerc had one of the best laps of his career to go fourth fastest for Ferrari, just a tenth behind Bottas’ Mercedes, to suggest the prancing horse made impressive progress during the winter after his worst. season for four decades.
Pierre Gasly will start fifth – tying his best performance in Bahrain – after a brilliant performance throughout qualifying. The AlphaTauri rider is one of only four riders in the top 10 to start the race on the mediums, so he is in a very good position in terms of strategy for Sunday’s race.
Daniel Ricciardo beat his McLaren teammate Lando Norris in sixth place as Carlos Sainz failed to improve in his second run and finished eighth, half a second behind Leclerc. His compatriot Fernando Alonso hit the ground on his return to F1 with Alpine after two years away from the sport with a ninth, while Lance Stroll closed the top 10 for Aston Martin.
It was not so good news for his new teammate Sebastian Vettel, who was knocked out in the first part of qualifying and will start 18th, while the second Red Bull from Sergio Perez failed to make Q3 while he finished 11th.
AS IT HAPPENED
Q1 – Verstappen and Tsunoda play the lead role of Vettel
Max Verstappen picked up where he left off, having swept the board in all three free practice sessions, as he set a scintillating pace under the lights in Bahrain to dominate times in the opening segment qualifications.
But Yuki Tsunoda arguably stole his thunder with an astonishing lap that placed him second fastest, a fraction ahead of world champion Lewis Hamilton in a breathtaking tight session with the top three separated by just a tenth. of a second.
It wasn’t the prettiest of debuts for Nikita Mazepin, the twice-turning Haas driver – the latest to arrive in the dying seconds of qualifying, which brought out the yellow flags at Turn 1 and forced a number of drivers to move back slightly.
Most affected were Esteban Ocon and Sebastian Vettel, who wasted time there and also when the yellow flags were called for a slowdown from Carlos Sainz, who slowed down to a snail’s pace with an engine problem before to leave.
As a result, they were both kicked out of qualifying, Ocon was 16th, Sainz was 15th and Vettel a frustrating 18th on his debut with Aston Martin.
Nicholas Latifi also missed the cup, but his Williams teammate George Russell rose to the top 10 with his latest effort to defeat. Mick Schumacher comfortably ahead of his teammate Haas Mazepin to finish 19th.
KO: Ocon, Latifi, Vettel, Schumacher, Mazepin
Q2 – Ferrari runs smoothly to go faster, while Mercedes shows the pace
The top three looked familiar after the first few tries in Q2, with Hamilton leading Verstappen and Bottas, but the timesheet was reversed as several teams chose to lead the apps, while Mercedes, Red Bull and AlphaTauri are stayed with the mediums.
Leclerc went faster first, but he was quickly usurped by teammate Ferrari Sainz by the smallest of margins – just 0.001s. They occupied the first two places as the checkered flag fell, Hamilton retaining third place and Norris using the softwares for P4.
While Pierre Gasly made it to the top 10 in midrange shots on goal with a phenomenal turn, his rookie teammate Tsunoda didn’t quite get that rubber working and was knocked out. He will start 13th, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Russell.
The real shock, however, was Perez’s first swim, with the Mexican removing his first lap due to track limitations and failing to get the medium’s performance like his teammate Verstappen did.
He will start 11th, best placed with the free choice of tires, one place ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi as Alfa Romeo confirmed the belief that they are in a much stronger position than they were at the end of the season. ‘last year.
KO: Perez, Giovinazzi, Tsunoda, Raikkonen, Russell
Bahrain GP qualifying 2021: Sergio Perez angry with the knockout in Q2
Q3 – Verstappen and Hamilton fight an epic battle
F1 has been clamoring for a two-team title fight for years – and based on Saturday’s qualifying session, it looks like we could have it in 2021.
Verstappen set the tone at the start, but his advantage was only 0.023 seconds over Hamilton. They started off again, Hamilton heading past Verstappen, just behind teammate Bottas to give him the potential for a tow.
Hamilton improved and established purple sectors. But each time Verstappen did better and it gave the Dutchman his fourth career pole position, denying pole to Mercedes in the opening race for the first time in the hybrid era and setting up a tantalizing showdown in the race. Sunday.
2021 Bahrain GP qualifying: Max Verstappen beats Mercedes in pole position
The key quote
“We’ve already had a great week of testing and of course there’s no guarantee but then we came back for the race weekend and the whole week so far, I think the car has very worked well, and it was really fun to drive. said poleman Max Verstappen.
“With the wind changing a lot at each session, it is not easy to set up the car but everything went perfectly in qualifying, so very satisfied with the pole position.”
The Bahrain Grand Prix starts at 6:00 p.m. local time, 1500 UTC. Verstappen is leading the way, but does he have a car that can withstand a double attack from Mercedes?