Verstappen beats Mercedes pair to claim pole for Bahrain Grand Prix

2021 Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying

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Max Verstappen beat the Mercedes pair to pole position for the first race of the 2021 F1 season, despite picking up damage on his Red Bull early in the qualifying session.

Behind Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, Charles Leclerc gave Ferrari an encouraging start to their season by lining up fourth.

However it was a disappointing start to life at Aston Martin for Sebastian Vettel, who was eliminated in the first round of qualifying.

Q1

The first qualifying session of the year got off to a quiet start after darkness fell and the lights came on in Bahrain. George Russell was one of the first to take to the track, but returned to the pits without setting a time. Nikita Mazepin didn’t complete his first run after spinning again, having done so in final practice earlier in the day.

Halfway through the 18-minute session, the field took to the track en masse. Verstappen quickly reasserted his status as pace-setter from practice, though he scraped his RB16B down the apex kerb at turn two, leaving pieces of his floor behind.

Lewis Hamilton initially took up second place behind him, just 0.118 seconds shy, considerably closer than he had been earlier in the day. But he – and much of the watching field – were surprised to see himself bumped back rookie Yuki Tsunoda, who beat the world champion by a hundredth of a second in his AlphaTauri.

Practice had suggested the Haas and Williams pair would struggle to escape Q1, and sure enough their four cars appeared at the bottom of the times sheets. Esteban Ocon was also in the drop zone as the final runs began, but only a hundredth of a second shy of Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo. The whole field headed out for further runs at the end, bar Verstappen and the AlphaTauri pair.

Russell leapt up to seventh with his final effort, but improvements by other drivers relegated him to 13th place. He might have fallen further, but a second spin by Mazepin prevented at least one driver, Sebastian Vettel from improving his time. The Haas driver lost his car at turn one, obliging Vettel to back off, and he lost more time when he encountered his Ferrari replacement Carlos Sainz Jnr at turn eight, who had suffered a loss of power.

Those disruptions meant Vettel was unable to improve on his 18th-fastest time, and was eliminated from qualifying on his first appearance for Aston Martin. He joined Latifi, Ocon and the Haas drivers in dropping out in the first round.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1’31.724
17Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1’31.936
18Sebastian VettelAston Martin-Mercedes1’32.056
19Mick SchumacherHaas-Ferrari1’32.449
20Nikita MazepinHaas-Ferrari1’33.273

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Q2

The Red Bull, Mercedes and AlphaTauri drivers all opted for the medium tyre compound at the start of Q2, preferring to start the race on the harder compound. Hamilton seemed happier on these tyres and moved to the top of the times, 0.233s ahead of Verstappen, and quicker than the Red Bull driver had been in Q1.

Sergio Perez suffered a setback as his first lap time was deleted for exceeding track limits at turn four. However he returned to the track on another set of medium tyres, determined to make the cut without sacrificing a tactical advantage on Sunday.

Daniel Ricciardo, who committed the same infringement as Perez, Russell and the Alfa Romeo pair went into the final minutes of Q2 in the drop zone.

Perez’s bold decision initially appeared to pay off. He lapped three-tenths of a second off Verstappen and initially set the sixth-quickest time. But a string of improvements were to follow.

The Ferrari pair finally revealed their true pace and hit the top of the times, newcomer Sainz pipping Charles Leclerc by one-thousandth of a second to lead Q2 with a time of 1’30.009. The soft-tyred pair led Hamilton on mediums, followed by Lando Norris in the first of the soft-shod McLarens, and their respective team mates on the same compounds.

That left Verstappen seventh ahead of Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri. However neither of the other two Honda-powered cars made it through. Tsunoda was a disappointed 13th following his earlier heroics, and Perez was the last driver out by a mere three-hundredths of a second. He was denied a place in the final 10 by Stroll and Fernando Alonso, who left their respective team mates behind in Q1.

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Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda1’30.659
12Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’30.708
13Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda1’31.203
14Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’31.238
15George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’33.430

Q3

The contest between Hamilton and Verstappen finally came into focus as the drivers tipped to fight over the 2021 title set their first flying laps in a pole position shoot-out this year. Hamilton’s first effort looked highly promising for Mercedes – a 1’29.549. But Verstappen, running after him, found fractionally more time, provisionally claiming the top spot by 23 thousandths of a second.

Gasly put his AlphaTauri third, almost half a second slower than Verstappen, but surprisingly clear of Bottas in the second Mercedes. Sainz led the Ferrari charge as Leclerc didn’t set a time initially.

Hamilton and Verstappen exchanged blows again on their final runs. Hamilton found more time, taking almost two-tenths of a second off his previous best, lowering it to a 1’29.385.

But Verstappen, again lapping behind the Mercedes driver, was flying once more. The Red Bull was dramatically quicker through the middle of the lap, and at the line increased his advantage over the Mercedes to almost four-tenths of a second.

Gasly couldn’t hold on to third place – he slipped behind Bottas and Leclerc, who pulled out a superb lap in his Ferrari to take a place on the second row of the grid. Daniel Ricciardo will start his first race as a McLaren driver ahead of team mate Lando Norris.

Sainz fell to eighth ahead of Alonso, with Stroll rounding off the top 10 in his Aston Martin.

Top ten in Q3

1Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’28.997
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’29.385
3Valtteri BottasMercedes1’29.586
4Charles LeclercFerrari1’29.678
5Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda1’29.809
6Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-Mercedes1’29.927
7Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1’29.974
8Carlos Sainz JnrFerrari1’30.215
9Fernando AlonsoAlpine-Renault1’30.249
10Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1’30.601

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2021 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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117 comments on “Verstappen beats Mercedes pair to claim pole for Bahrain Grand Prix”

  1. Haas on the last row with Mazepin dead last, unsurprising.
    Overall a very mixed field, albeit I didn’t expect Perez to get knocked out, nor Seb in Q1.

    1. Looked like Mazepin was, as expected, faster than Schumacher, but not more consistent, so when he got it wrong, Schumacher picked up the pieces @jerejj, that’s a bit what I expect in the 1st half of this season while Schumacher gets up to speed. But the longer races might mean Schumacher almost always will leave his teammate behind at the finish.

      1. @bosyber Erm, no mate, Mazepin was only quicker after their first runs because of his earlier spin causing a yellow flag at Sector 3 forcing Schumacher to slow. Also he set his time a good 5 minutes after Schumacher, the track did evolve a bit (as twilight races tend to do) by then.

        Also I should point out that Mazepin passed the entire queue ahead of him just before the last turn, and then promptly spun off (rears locked at Turn 1, hardly ever happens) which I’m sure will draw the ire of Vettel and Ocon at the very least.

        1. And mazespin caused a yellow even Alonso will be punished for.

    2. What a shame for Sebastian Vettel. But at least Stroll showed that the car is good enough for Q3. I hope we see Alonso and Vettel very close together all season, even if it is only for minor points placings.

      1. Yeah Seb hasnt adapted to that car yet. Even though he was compromised by two yellows on his lap, I feel he’d still have been knocked out in Q2 anyways. The hope is that he is immediately on it in race trim. On the whole, it looks like a disappointing year ahead for Aston Martin/Alpine. They both have regressed the most of all the teams and its a headscratcher tbh.

        Reply moderated
    3. Sergey Martyn
      27th March 2021, 17:25

      If Mazepin is dead last, how you describe Vettel, only one slot up the grid at P18?

      1. I’d describe him as unlucky to have had his lap ruined by Mazepin. If he had more spins than laps completed, I’d describe him as having had a similar session to Mazepin.

  2. Tomorrow will be fun. Hopefully the new cars do not make following and overtaking too hard. But Red Bull could be ruing themselves with Perez in 11th. That has given Mercedes a lot of options on strategy.

  3. Poor Vettel. It’s awful to see. It’s just the first quali but signs are not good for him.

    1. It’s bad but not too much can be looked into after one race. If after 4-5 races Vettel doesn’t comfortably have Stroll in his pocket then start to worry.

      1. And don’t forget stroll is a decent midfielder, not as bad as people make him out to be because he’s technically a pay driver, with his recent performance he earned his place in f1 imo.

        1. A class driver should easily beat a ‘decent midfielder’. If Vettel fails to beat him, then he is finished and most probably will never be his old self again.

          I’ve read that Vettel was hampered by yellows, so that’s a tiny bit less awful than first seemed.

        2. @esploratore I don’t really buy that Stroll is a decent midfield driver. The drivers currently fighting in the “midfield” are Ricciardo, Norris, Gasly, Tsunoda, Alonso, Ocon, Leclerc, and Sainz. Stroll, for me, is absolutely the worst driver out of everyone in the midfield.

  4. Clearly, the RB pace is real. I don’t really believe in the concept of “sandbagging”, I think it’s down to different testing scenarios, but Merc evidently have a pace issue. Same with Aston, that car does not look comfortable to drive and I think Stroll actually did a great job getting into Q3. It looks bad for Vettel, but his lap went through two consecutive yellow sectors, it’s hard to know how fast he really can be.

    Alpha Tauri clearly best of the rest, and Ferrari not too far behind. Sainz is right on the heels of Leclerc which is great for the team.

    1. Farrari did a good job, I don’t think Alpha Tauri is clearly best of the rest, I think there is a great fight between Ferrari, Alpha Tauri and McLaren for the 3rd spot. Hopefully they will put pressure on RB and Mercedes and give us more entertainment.

  5. Game on. Redbull started the year as the fastest so no excuses this time. Hopefully, Mercedes will catch up soon.

    1. I think the Mercedes is actually the fastest car on the grid – it’s just Verstappens genius dragging it around.

      1. Based on what? All the evidence points to the contrary

        1. No, it doesn’t. Merc are still 2 and 3, with Perez a long way down. VER clearly made the difference today, your dislike of him notwithstanding.

          1. Perez isnt a good yardstick yet to measure the RB and verstappen

      2. Will give Max his dues. Great lap(s) today however, “One swallow…” and all that.
        Still, kudos to Max today. Let’s get it ON!

        1. Exactly. Max was immense today but I don’t want him to just walk off into the distance this season. I think we all just want a close fight this year.

          1. Max is always immense. he has the car now.

          2. As long as mercedes doesn’t win I’m ok, I’ve had enough of mercedes.

      3. I would have agreed if it was 2 tenths, but four? Red Bull has the fastest car on this track, now we’ll see if we get the same result at other tracks.

        1. Simplistically it seems Mercedes the fastest car; Verstappen the fastest driver; and Alonso on top of his teammate.
          1 quali down, but could be an exciting season ahead.

    2. When was the last time somebody beat the lead Merc by 0.388 in Qualifying?

  6. Promising start from Alonso, imagine what he can do after a few races?

    1. I don’t expect miracles from alpine. Podium would be awesome

    2. I think he’s already dragging his car to places it doesn’t belong. Don’t expect much more. The man’s a beast though.

  7. Verstappen is quickly cementing his place as one of the greats. When he drives like he did today nobody can keep up with him. 4 tenths to second place in what looks to be the second quickest car – wow.

    1. Second quickest car? 😆

      1. @sebsronnie there are those who always want to paint Max as a heroic underdog in every circumstance – to the point that they are often the bitterest critics of Red Bull, as their narrative only works if they constantly downplay Red Bull in order to paint Max in a more flattering light.

        Reply moderated
    2. I was with you until the last sentence – wow.

      1. Agreed. A diss to the engineers at RB. That car was first in all practice session regardless of air temperature. Fastest in Q1 and the “greatest” driver on the grid decided to redesign the floor by straddling the kerb for a long way and the car still takes pole. Should be a great race if the “greatest” driver manages to keep from destroying the car.

    3. With 3 purples, it cant be the second quickest car.

      1. @pinakghosh Michael Schumacher took four pole positions in 1996 with what was certainly the second best car (at best). It’s not unheard of.

        1. clearly not the case here. :D

        2. How much time did he have over the second car? 4 tenths with three purple sectors? Verstappen made 3 tenths in one sector alone.

          1. @gufdamm Sigh, a cursory google search will show you that he beat Damon Hill to pole at Monaco by over half a second.

        3. For 96 season, I think it was 3 poles of MSC

          1. It was definitely 3 wins, can’t remember if poles were 3 or 4, I remember france at least, where he had an engine problem during formation lap.

          2. @pinakghosh 3 wins, as @esploratore pointed out, and 4 poles (Imola, Monaco, Magny-Cours and Budapest).

        4. @wsrgo Yeah Lewis Hamilton aint Damon Hill lol.

          Reply moderated
      2. You want to say that it’s impossible to be faster than Sir Lewis in a slower car? I think it’s just a faster driver with a car that’s not as slower than Mercedes as it was before. Bottas is still in front of the rest of the field, including 2nd Red Bull driver.

    4. @Alex

      Maybe when Max actually wins a championship, and beats multiple defending world champs, we will talk. As of now, you just sound like an easily excitable Verstappen fan.

      1. Meh… let him have his time in the sun. Claiming Max to be “quickly cementing his place as one of the greats…” is clearly aimed at provoking some people.
        No taking away from Max. He is clearly a extremely talented driver and probably has the ability to be multi WDC but claimng him to be “quickly cementing his place as one of the greats” after his 4th PP is clearly just WUM material. 🤦‍♂️ PLEASE people… dont make it difficult to appreciate and acknowledge what a talent Max is.

        1. You just addressed your own point. No reasonable fan doubts Max is hugely talented. But to start giving him all sorts of accolades he is yet to earn, is for the birds.

          1. Not at all – he is the best driver of his age we’ve seen in F1 since Hamilton. To be one of the “greats”, he still has a lot more to achieve but I have no doubt if he was in the Mercedes with Bottas as his team mate for the last few years, he’d have matched Hamilton’s record.

          2. Pete, indeed, the car matters, accolades matter very little when you can only win in the best car in 95% of cases.

          3. @esploratore

            Welcome to F1. Since 1950, only a handful of drivers have won the world driver’s championship without a constructor’s winning car.

            @petebaldwin

            He is the best driver of his age we’ve seen in F1 since Hamilton

            Man again with just handing out these accolades. Leclerc, Russell and Ricciardo will have alot to say about that. Max is certainly a top contender- but again, we will get more answers with time as different challenges are presented to him. At one point, it seemed like Vettel would be the greatest driver of his generation- it has all gone a bit sour since.

    5. Well played sir, that’s the funniest thing I’ve read on the internet today!

  8. Yes! What we want. A fight. Intrigue. Jeopardy.
    Some predictable outcomes with RB and Merc at the front, Haas and Williams towards the back, Russell ahead of Latifi, Ham ahead of Bot and RB taking a risk with the second car which didn’t pay off. But overall it sets the race up nicely.
    Mixed up grid with different manufacturers and drivers on different tyre selections and if Hamilton is going to win, he’ll need to earn it. Can’t wait!

  9. Overhyped Perez with the fastest car on the grid is 11th. Ferrari on the second row on the grid in a power sensitive track after last year’s disaster, not a bad start of the season. Alonso is one of the old times greats. 2 years out and recovering from a fractured jaw… is already Vandoorning Ocon. It’s going to be interesting fight in the midfield with McLaren, Ferrari, Alpha Tauri and Alonso in the mix.

    1. I think Red Bull made a bit of a silly gamble by putting Perez out on the mediums. A bit early to say he’s overhyped after one race at Red Bull?

      1. Did I miss the race? One quali session!

      2. Not only one race, but after 9 years in F1. He is very good at staying out of trouble in the races and managing his tyres. That worked well in midfield teams but now he is in a top team under the spotlight in every race session and he has to deliver constantly.

        1. We’ll see how he does, I’m predicting he’ll finish ahead of Bottas this year.
          I think in 2013 he wasn’t prepared for the additional scrutiny of a McLaren drive, although he didn’t do too badly that year really. He is more experienced now and I hope he’ll be able to handle the extra attention.
          (Also Perez has been in F1 for 10 seasons now, not counting this one).

          1. I think that Max is at least 0.5 sec quicker than Perez with same tyres. But I have heard someone say that the tyres with the yellow band are much slower than the one with the red one. I think they calll them ‘medium’ and ‘soft’. Apparently Max was on the red ones and Perez on the yellow ones, it looks like no one realised that. Pears with apples…

        2. @tifoso1989 you seem to be rather angrily attacking Perez, but I would say that it looks a lot more like a case of those drivers who are either new to the sport or having switched teams during the off season generally tending to be slower than their team mates across the board, reflecting the very limited amount of testing the teams had to prepare for this season.

          After all, if you look down the grid, although Ricciardo did just about beat Norris in Q3, for most of this weekend he has been a few tenths off Norris’s pace and not really looked like he’s quite settled in.

          Tsunoda’s shown flashes of pace, but couldn’t deliver a decent Q2 lap and dropped out of contention with a result many were disappointed by.

          Sainz, similarly, has ended up a long way behind Leclerc – you criticise Perez for being 0.3s off in Q2 from Verstappen, but Sainz has ultimately ended up 0.6s behind Leclerc.

          Vettel also had a rather troubled session too, qualifying a long way behind Stroll and never looking quite at ease with the car.

          Whilst you praise Alonso, don’t forget that, thanks to Renault’s use of the loopholes for the “rookie driver test”, he also got to effectively double the amount of testing mileage he could do before the 2021 season compared to most other drivers. When all of the drivers who have changed teams have been off the pace of their team mates, and the one driver who has done well was the one who effectively got to double their testing mileage – well, does that not seem like a somewhat distinctive trend?

          Reply moderated
    2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      27th March 2021, 16:59

      Ocon looked solid in practice and suffered like Vettel in Q1 with yellow flags. Ocon actually looked better than alonso over some of the practice. Nothing here can be judged fairly yet.

      Perez was a bit underwhelming. He was 3 tenths down on verstappen, which didn’t look that bad given that was around Bottas’s time in his first Q3 session against Hamilton in 2017. But Verstappen didn’t get the best out of the car in that session. Evidently as he got pole by a whopping margin in the next session. So Perez doesn’t really have much of an excuse for 10 slower cars beating him.

      1. He’s got a good excuse: medium tyres.

        1. In Q2, Max and nearly all of them were on yellow, mistake was staying on yellows on 2nd run when it was obvious so many others knew they had to switch to the reds for the 2nd run. But still, he has looked pretty slow in all sessions next to Max. Yes, Max looks really spot on in all sessions so far, he is the real deal, in equal or close to equal equipment, he is going to be tough. Traces clearly showed Merc had power advantage out of corners still if you watched the all the sessions and quali. Merc is right there, don’t fool yourselves… but Max is special and Lewis has a history of whining often when things don’t go his way… as he as been campaigning since testing…poor poor lewis.

          Reply moderated
    3. @tifoso1989

      Overhyped Perez with the fastest car on the grid is 11th

      I don’t think you’ve been paying attention. Perez has never been known for his raw pace. He was only 3tenths down on Max in Q2- which for his first outing isn’t that bad. To think Perez can live with Max over one lap is the stuff of casuals. Over a race distance, over a season, I expect him to give Max something to think about, but fall short.

      1. @blazzz @tifoso1989 All true, but none of which contradicts the fact he is probably overhyped.

      2. Those 3 tenths do not say a lot when that lap is just supposed to be fast enough to proceed to Q3 while at the same time preserving the tyre as much as possible given it has to perform during the first race stint.

        1. @mattds

          Two words- track evolution.

          1. @blazz well I hope you realize those 3 tenths were taken from Perez later in Q2 Vs Max early in Q2, which speaks against Perez.

            Also, Bottas was just 0.1s behind Hamilton in Q2. See what happened with that in Q3? See why that Q2 gap doesn’t tell all the much?

          2. @blazzz sorry forgot a z, so didn’t mention you properly.

      3. @blazzz

        Perez has never been known for his raw pace

        Then he is certainly overhyped. I don’t expect him to be close to Max but missing Q3 when your teammate is on pole doesn’t bold well.

        1. @tifoso1989

          Then he is certainly overhyped.

          Yeah, a race winner and multiple podium finisher in midfield cars is overhyped. Meanwhile, Hulk couldn’t manage the same feat and is highly regarded by many in the paddock for eg. There is a difference between being on Verstappen’s level and being overhyped.

          1. @blazzz
            Hulkenberg was way more impressive than Perez in junior formulas. He won the GP2 series in his debut year, which was only achieved by Hamilton, Rosberg, Russel & Leclerc after having won the Euro F3 and A1 GP while Perez best result was in Junior formulas was finishing 2nd in the 2010 GP2 series behind Maldonado.

            Perez & Hulkenberg were teammates in Force India for 3 years and Hulk have had the upper hand in qualy 35-24 and has finished ahead of Perez more times, though he was outscored in the last 2 seasons because Perez lucked into podiums in Russia 2015 & Baku 2016.

          2. @tifoso1989 I would say that @felipemassadobrasil is right to state that Perez did not just “luck out” in Baku 2016. On the contrary, if he had not had a gearbox penalty, he would have started that race on the front row of the grid – if anything, having to start the race with a gearbox penalty was a case of luck going against him, not for him.

            Even with the penalty though, he was able to climb back up the grid on raw pace to eventually be able to overtake Raikkonen on track during the one race at Baku that had the least amount of randomness associated with it – 2016 was the one year where the race ran from start to finish under green flag conditions, with nothing disrupting the race in any way. How is that supposed to be “lucking in” when that was a race characterised by its lack of randomness?

            It has to be said that, in at least three cases where Perez picked up a podium, those races were characterised by Hulkenberg failing to perform. In Baku 2016, even Hulkenberg himself agreed that he’d struggled for pace and should have done better, whilst in Russia 2015 Hulkenberg spun himself out of the race. In Bahrain 2014, Hulkenberg and Perez were fighting for position, but it was ultimately Perez’s ability to overtake Hulkenberg and then to fend off Ricciardo that secured that podium.

            With regards to the question of finishing ahead, I note you did not mention the figures there, which were only just in Hulkenberg’s favour (23-22) – that would suggest that it was rather more even between Hulkenberg and Perez than the picture you are trying to paint.

            Similarly, whilst you quote the 35-24 headline figure for qualifying, that only gives a partial picture – this site has highlighted how Hulkenberg’s pace advantage dropped over time, such that by 2016 he was only 0.07s faster on average in qualifying. If qualifying was meant to be Hulkenberg’s strength, why was he slipping back in that area relative to Perez over time?

          3. @tifoso1989

            You’re really scraping the barrell if you’re having to look at junior formulae. Di Riesta beat Vettel in junior formulae too, yet in F1 that was irrelevant.

        2. Thomas Bennett (@felipemassadobrasil)
          27th March 2021, 20:39

          How did he luck into a podium in Baku 2016? That drive was purely on merit

    4. Ahah, vandoorning, good term!

    5. Um, Vandoorne was an average 0.25s behind Alonso, in his rookie season. Alpine will be glad if Ocon can stay that close in his 4th season.

  10. Nice session!
    Is that the Honda engine, or Red Bull suspension, or high rake philosophy that’s paying dividends?

    I’m a bit disappointed by Alpine, though not that surprised. Hopefully it will be able to mount a challenge and not lag in the low 10ths. And to be fair to Ocon he got the yellow flags, so he could have been higher up.

  11. Very interesting:
    First, 3 purple sectors from Red Bull. The pace is real and with development freeze, its going to be close with Mercedes.
    Second, had a feeling that Perez would struggle. Confirmed.
    Third, McLaren not so fast after all. Ricciardo gets one up on Norris.
    Fourth, Leclerc manages to have a fantastic lap once again.
    Fifth, Alonso at it again.
    Sixth, Good pace from Alpha Tauri. Clearly benefiting from Honda’s pace.
    Seventh, Vettel’s struggle continues. That space has to be watched closely this season.
    Eighth, at this rate we would need a website for Mr Spin.

  12. Well that was an entertaining qualy, bit surprised to see a Ferrari in 4th but good on him. 23 races is a long season and I think it’s going to be a good one. The first couple of races are an extension of testing and this year more so. I’m looking forward to some heated racing down the track.

  13. Pretty good setup for the race! Red Bull look pretty strong but I’m still expecting Mercedes to overhaul them.

    Impressed with AlphaTauri, Gasly doing well and Tsunoda looks like he’s got a lot of potential. The McLaren’s kinda disappointed, the Ferrari’s did better than expected and it seems Vettel didn’t turn up.

    Wonder what the odds are that Massivespin will spin again tomorrow?

    1. If you bet 1 euro on him spinning you end up with 1,1 euro, so likely it is (half joke ofc)!

  14. MY PECKING ORDER SHAKEOUT SO FAR: .
    1. RB/Mercedes.
    3. Ferrari (They are 3/4 of the way back. Not surprised tbh. Might sneak a win or two somewhere.)
    4. Alpha Tauri.
    5. Mclaren.
    6. Alpine/Aston Martin (hugely disappointing.)
    8. Alfa Romeo.
    9. Williams.
    10. Haas. (Could possibly beat Williams for worst season in the Hybrid era.)

    Reply moderated
  15. People are talking about all kinds of things but there is really only one topic: End Of The Mercedes Empire.
    Is it curtains for the car that dominated like no other?
    Is it the end of title-collecting for Lewis?
    Tomorrow will tell.

    1. A bit too early for the curtain, I’d say

    2. Mercedes were struggling in testing and they have pulled it back so much that they are already 2 and 3 in qualifying.

      We now have to wait and see what the relative race paces are.

      Reply moderated
    3. So you and the usual subjects not going to keep the ‘Mercedes is sandbagging’ theme going for the rest of the season?
      I’m disappointed.

      1. Well, tbh, if you look at q2, don’t you see already that mercedes was heavily sandbagging in testing? After q2 I was thinking they’d have got pole again, was surprised by verstappen actually making q3 with a big margin.

    4. LOL, we haven’t even had one lap of racing yet. It’s a very long season and Mercedes has shown they’re more than capable of improving as the season progresses.

      Even if Verstappen does manage to win the WDC, I can’t see anyone beating Mercedes for the WCC.

  16. Stewards looking at “cake incident” the chocolate was not FIA approved

    1. no idea what you are on about, what have I missed?

      1. Some British thing probably about having cake and eating it ;-)

        1. Seems related to Max’s gift to Coulthard’s for huis birthday after the qualitying interview.

          Reply moderated
      2. David Coulthard his birthday and Max gave him a chocolate cake… in the face.

  17. Gripping session.

    I think this is like 2018 where Mercedes is started with not the fastest car but have to work towards making it fast. Also, their issues don’t seem as bad as during testing. Fair bit of progress made already and I think we will have 2 equal fast cars at the front of the grid in 3-4 races. Game on for 2021.

    Surprised to see McLaren only the 5th fastest car. Was it just some mega laps by Gasly and Leclerc or is that the real pace of McLaren. Will wait for a couple of races to pass judgement.

    Feel sorry for Sainz and Checo. Sainz was on it until the last lap in Q3. Wonder where he missed out there, hope it’s just a one-off bad lap. Checo took a gamble and it didn’t pay off. Being just 3 tenths of Verstappen on same tyre is frankly alright and it is what he has been hired for. But with 11th on the grid and fresh tyres available, I am sure he will be 4th less than halfway through the race tomorrow.

    Impressed by Tsunoda. His Q1 was mind blowing. Probably some inconsistency in Q2 which is totally forgiven given its his debut race. Gasly needs to watch out as he will have high competition within the team now.

    And finally, poor old Seb. Yes, he got unlucky on his last flying lap. But why did it even come to the last lap in a 20 minute session. He should have never left it for so late in the session.

    1. I think McLaren will be fine. I’d note that while they were the “5th fastest” team they were the 2nd team to qualify both drivers. Charles and Pierre are proven performers on this track, and Max is Max. They left their teammates behind.

      McLaren’s calling card the last couple years has been steady race pace (which should be better with the Merc engine) and consistent production from both drivers. I haven’t seen a reason to doubt them yet.

  18. If Vettel loses to Stroll this season- he needs to retire. No need to tarnish his goodwill further.

    1. Impossible to tarnish it further I’d say

  19. Well done to red bull and vers. Excellent mastering the new rules for 2021. Too early to right of lewis and mercs. Knowing them from the past 7/8 seasons they WILL overcome their short comings. They just have to adjust their design philosophy. Give it 2 to 3 races. Lewis did well considering redbull IS the faster car over 1 lap. Lets see their race pace.

  20. Did anyone notice timings at the end of Q2? I think there were 12 cars within 1 sec.

  21. Very fun qualifying and to have the season underway. It was unclear until the end with mistakes by Verstappen, but a stonker lap when it mattered in the end.

    But how good was Leclerc’s lap though. 4th just 0.1s off Mercedes is incredible.

    Well done to Alpha Tauri and Alonso too.

    1. Both Verstapen & Leclerc were impressive asusual. I hope to see them in same team someday.

  22. Not sure about the the front just yet (RB got poles too last year), but the constructors championship for third place, and fifth drivers’ standings, is going to be fun to watch.

    I noticed in the garage view the alpha tuari looks extremely similar to the RB, exact same nose structure (not the wing but the nose structure, didnt see the wing properly)… so yea definitely the white redbull in this season

  23. It’s just the start, but due to that improper apology, this isn’t the end…

  24. Vestappen made the difference not the car. Lets wait & see more.

  25. Tsunoda looked great. Vettel looks like he doesn’t want to be there. He should retire on Monday. The team deserves a better driver and all the drivers that don’t have a seat don’t deserve to be on the sideline when there is a driver that no longer has the desire to drive. He’s collecting a paycheck just like he did last year.

  26. I think I can’t add anything more what has already said but it is good for everyone (except Mercedes) that they aren’t fastest. Since 2012 I actually feel excited for the season.

    Bring it on!

    1. And it’s interesting that Verstappen was 0.3-0.4s faster in the second sector so that time was gained mainly there.

  27. I’m surprised tsunoda and perez didn’t fit the softs for their second runs in q2 just to be safe. They were looking so promising after q1. What a fantastic qualifying session. It’s looking incredibly close in the top 10. Oh and what an amazing qualy by Fernando. Welcome back! Really showed his class

  28. This looks like a good setup,

    So many cars close to Mercedes.. And the moment, they improve rear stability, they will be up there.

    The only real shame were Perez and Vettel dropping so low.

    So all is well in F1 again.

  29. That is a really good picture. Someone needs to say that.

  30. Let’s see what Verstappen makes of his advantage tomorrow. Its also signficant that the other redbull wasn’t doing anything special, so this is as much about Verstappen the driver as it is their car design. Now will Verstappen hold it together?

    Its also interesting that one cornerm, turn 10 took .020 if secs out of Mercedes. I don’t know what was going on in that corner, whether it was cross winds unique to this open track, or if there were other issues to do with handling, but it begs questions of the Mercedes drivers, if not the car’s handling.

    Can’t wait.

    I wonder if Merceds two cars will be their advantage come race strategy. They could sacrifice Botas, using him to hold up the redbulls on one of the tire changes, to give Lewis an advantage.

  31. Alpine should sack Ocon now in favour of Piastri from F2 .

  32. So Nikita Mazepin is only 4.5 seconds off poll.

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