Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Bahrain International Circuit, 2024

Bahrain pole “a little bit unexpected”, insists Verstappen

Formula 1

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Max Verstappen said he was not fully expecting to be able to take pole position in the first qualifying of the 2024 season in Bahrain.

The world champion secured the first pole position of the season – and the 33rd of his career – at the Bahrain International Circuit, two tenths of a second ahead of Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari.

Although Red Bull dominated the 2023 season and had many of their rivals tipping them to be the team to beat again this season, Verstappen says he was not expecting to be able to resume where he left off last year.

“It was a lot of fun, actually,” Verstappen said. “The track had a lot of grip, but with the wind the last few days it has been quite tricky to get the whole lap together and it was the same in qualifying.

“Q1, Q2, of course you can actually go a bit faster with the track ramping up, but then to really get everything out of it in Q3 was a little more difficult. But of course, very happy to be on pole. To be honest, it was a little bit unexpected. But luckily in qualifying, I think the car came to us and I felt a bit happier with the whole car.”

Despite not leading any of the three practice sessions across the weekend, Verstappen says Red Bull’s set-up adjustments on Friday appeared to pay off.

“I said it yesterday, we just needed to fine tune a few little things on the car to try and get that, let’s say, perfect balance – even though with the wind, that is not possible today,” he explained.

“But luckily I think we went in the right direction today. We could really push a bit more with the car and luckily then another step in qualifying.”

Starting from pole position in Bahrain for the second consecutive season, Verstappen says he has confidence heading into the opening race of the championship.

“I think in the race, it’s going to be close as well,” he said.

“We do look good in the race and that’s, of course, the most important. But we’ll see tomorrow. I’m confident that we can have a strong race.”

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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17 comments on “Bahrain pole “a little bit unexpected”, insists Verstappen”

  1. “A little bit unexpected” implies that they expected someone else to be slightly quicker in quali. Which is spot on, since that’s exactly what happened. My question is: how did he know? It doesn’t look like practice sessions provide reliable info to anybody…

    1. Q1 and Q2. They also know their own fuel load so have a better point of reference than those spectating

  2. Yeah, Leclerc put the overall fastest lap and Ferrari had a clear margin only to throw it away in the end.

    Verstappen was also very smart and got quite a bit of tow by following a McLaren which helped his massive gains in first sector which others couldn’t offset.

    There are 8 cars quicker than the RB19. That is how close it is in qualifying and given that Ferrari have fixed their tire degradation, RB will be lucky to get the type of gaps they had last year.

    2024 might not be much of a title fight but it will hopefully have many winners from at least 4 teams.

    1. How do we know that Ferrari fixed their tire degradation issue?

      1. Long runs from testing. They were fantastic.

    2. this is just one track and the first race of the season. I doubt eight cars will be quicker then RB19 on every track. And obviously, different conditions too, so that tells very little.

      But i guess it’s fair to try and sell this season as more exciting that it looks like it’s going to be.

      1. This will at least be closer in race trim simply because teams have far more pure performance in the cars. Last year Merc was 7 tenths off. 3 tenths now. I think if at all anything it would mean at some tracks while margins may grow in others they might shrink enough to not have a near complete whitewash like last year

        Hopefully there are some good non RB wins on proper tracks.

    3. There are 8 cars quicker than the RB19

      Whether Ferrari is quicker than Red Bull is debatable (they were quicker today, they might not be quicker in other circuits). As for the rest, how are any of the others quicker than the Red Bull?

      1. 19 not 20

      2. It’s the RB19, the car that won 21/22 races last year.

  3. It might be a little bit unexpected for him but we as the F1 fans were very much expecting him to take the pole.

    1. Exactly and even if red bull didn’t take pole I’d still consider them as favourites, based on last year.

  4. Coventry Climax
    1st March 2024, 19:17

    Vasseur said he’s quite happy overall, if a little bit frustrated over not getting pole, as they had the quickest time, only not in Q3.
    The last words of his interview raised my respect for him by miles. When asked about the Horner situation, he said to be fully focused on his own job and his own guys.
    Wish Zak and all the others would do the same.

    Norris also said their car was good enough for front row.
    This might still turn out to be not just a walk in the park for Verstappen after all.

    1. Let’s wait and see the race pace. If 3 teams start tripping over each other during the season, Verstappen will have it relatively easy again.

      Not having a fast enough No2 could make things just a bit harder, though.

      1. Like you said, he doesnt need a faster team mate if 3 or 4 teams are stealing points from eachother for p2 in the championship.

      2. Coventry Climax
        2nd March 2024, 0:19

        This might still turn out to be …

        To which you reply, basically: ‘This might still turn out to be …’

    2. Please realize that many of the headlines are based on questions asked by journalists, so your indictment would be more fairly targeted at them. This can be seen easily in the press conferences, where the drivers or principles are prompted by the questions and some drivers or principles get no questions at all!

      Sometimes the reason there are so many quotes from and articles about the same people is because the journalists focus on them to the exclusion of others who may have even stronger opinions!

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