Lewis Hamilton said Red Bull have “made a great leap forward” after taking their third pole position in a row. Here’s what the data says.
George Russell nearly reached Q3 as Williams posted their most competitive performance since the same race five years – and 99 grands prix – earlier.
After the seventh qualifying session of the 2021 F1 season, the pecking order of the teams has come into clearer focus.
Azerbaijan Grand Prix pole-winner Charles Leclerc admitted he did not expect Ferrari to lead the way at the Baku City Circuit as they did in Monaco two weeks earlier.
For the first time since Sebastian Vettel took pole position at Suzuka in 2019, Ferrari have set the quickest lap time during a race weekend.
The Circuit de Catalunya is often described as a “benchmark” F1 track, so the 0.03s gap between the title contenders points to an exciting year ahead.
Red Bull failed to beat their practice pace in qualifying, and set the third-quickest time behind Mercedes and McLaren, after an unhelpful “gust of wind”.
Aston Martin claim they were unfairly disadvantaged by the FIA’s rules change, but they almost matched their 2020 lap times at Imola.
The top five teams are within a second of each other in Bahrain – three more than last year – which suggests 2021 will be a much more competitive season.
With the final qualifying session of 2020 in the books, we can answer the question: Who had the quickest and slowest F1 cars this year?
Valtteri Bottas set a new record for the shortest ever lap in F1. And George Russell’s impressive performance meant Mercedes had the most closely-matched team mates.
Having locked out the front row in Bahrain last year, Ferrari are lapping 1.2 seconds slower this year, and their customers have also lost performance.
Ferrari have been steadily improving but AlphaTauri pulled off another surprise performance in qualifying at Imola, which could have championship implications.
Valtteri Bottas knows he had a car quick enough for pole position – he set the fastest time in all three sectors of the Algarve circuit. But he lost out to team mate Lewis Hamilton.
Alexander Albon said Red Bull’s upgrade has “put us a lot closer to the Mercedes” after his team mate lapped within two-tenths of a second of them. But they aren’t the only team who’ve closed the gap.
Ferrari are over one-and-a-half seconds slower in Sochi than last year. They lapped quicker at the Russian track three years ago than they managed today.
Mercedes have their smallest lead over the rest of the field all season at the high-speed Mugello, where the drivers are lapping faster than they did at Spa.
While Lewis Hamilton set the fastest ever lap of a Formula 1 circuit in his Mercedes at Monza, former record holders Ferrari lapped over a second slower than they managed two years ago.
Only Ferrari are slower than last year at Spa. The team’s sporting director Laurent Mekies admitted their lack of performance is “still not fully understood”.
Haas looked quick on Friday but team principal Guenther Steiner said their lack of power from ‘quali mode’ is why they failed to reach Q2.