Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021

Verstappen knew he had more time in hand for final pole-winning lap

2021 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Bahrain Grand Prix pole winner Max Verstappen said he knew he could find more time on his final qualifying lap, which beat Lewis Hamilton to pole position by almost four tenths of a second.

“Basically my first lap in Q3 wasn’t amazing, so I knew there was more in it,” said Verstappen.

The Red Bull driver was fastest in all three practice sessions, topped the first segment of qualifying and then sailed through to the final top-10 shootout. On his first run he was 0.023s quicker than Hamilton, but was confident there was more time in the car.

“You never know how much,” he said. “But finally the balance was there, and then you can push a little more.

“The track is quite hot, so you have to be careful with not overheating the rear tyres. Luckily when we managed, we could perform.”

He took pole with a 1’28.997 lap on his final run in Q3.

Verstappen said there were “no guarantees” of carrying over his test-topping pace at the circuit into the race weekend, but admitted the days leading up to qualifying suggested he would be at the front.

“The whole week so far I think the car has been working really well and has just been really enjoyable to drive. Of course with the wind changing a lot around every session, it’s not easy to set up the car. But it all worked out perfectly in qualifying, so of course I’m very happy with pole position.

The Red Bull driver took pole position despite picking up damage during the first part of qualifying when he ran along the kerb at turn two. His Red Bull team principal Christian Horner suggested it caused a minor loss of performance on his RB16B.

“He smacked the bottom of the car pretty hard, because they run so low we’ve lost a couple of bits of carbon under the front of the car there,” Horner told Sky.

“Maybe he’s carrying about a tenth’s-worth of damage through the rest of the sessions. So you think in the first one through Q1 where it’s not that impressive, you think ‘oh no’.

“But he’s handled that incredibly well.”

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2021 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Author information

Elliot Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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12 comments on “Verstappen knew he had more time in hand for final pole-winning lap”

  1. Hardly encouraging that we now have the same situation as before only now with Verstappen the deserving leader, but I do trust Mercedes to develop into a true equal this season more than the reverse over the past four seasons

    1. @hahostolze
      4 tenths of the second is not a drama and in the long runs both cars at the hands of Lewis and Max were close. There is always opportunity with the starts, strategy, pit stops… The thing is Mercedes have actually ridiculed the rest of the grid in the last seven seasons where the gap in qualy and in the races was so big that it didn’t matter who they were fighting. It has to be said that Verstappen is that extra gear RBR have at the moment.

      1. @tifoso1989 the long runs, in so far as the much longer run of Verstappen was comparable to Hamilton, Verstappen was 2 or 3 tenths faster every lap, and in quali the RBR was better on its tyres. It feels like it can walk away at a canter tomorrow. Which I hope it doesnt.

        1. The startprocedure still is a weak spot of the Honda.

          1. Dear enemy: Keep yappin’ at me when I talk about Bottas, Giovinazzi, Perez, Vettel and Ocon!

  2. I’m selling the E63AMG to buy a Civic next week!!!
    Gasly is delivering so much that he may get Marko fired! :-))
    Alonso shouldn’t be allowed to give interviews but boy, can he drive any piece of junk they give him!
    Leclerc should be making Verstappen’s kind of money for the things he’s doing.
    Vettel put himself in a worst situation than before. Everyone agreed that Leclerc was better and Vettel should settle for second, but second to Stroll?

    1. Indeed, and if I recall I and a few more pointed out it wasn’t a given stroll couldn’t beat vettel!

  3. I interpret Horner is proud that even with damage and performance lost they are still leading. So perhaps without damage, he could be 1 sec ahead.

    1. Usually this stuff is minor, 1 tenth or so.

  4. It would have been cruel to lose pole because of that tenth, but it would have been his own fault.

    Even mistakes on his first Q3 lap, so all in all a scruffy session, but what matters is of course the final run and that was top.

  5. Something needs to be done about this Red Bull dominance. Bored of this split between Red Bull and F1.5!

  6. Yes it’s about time we saw Mercedes at the front, this season has been so one sided.

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