At first blush you may be inclined to say that the Red Bull team have created a car, along with Honda power, that is slightly quicker than Mercedes and if the Q3 session of qualifying for pole position at the Bahrain Grand Prix is any indicator, you may be correct.
Max Versteppen has taken pole position this this weekend’s Bahrain GP but it is just one top of circuit and there are 22 other races and circuits to run so before we jump about signing and dancing on the grave of Mercedes, we have to remain realistic about the moving factors in F1 and one of those moving factors is the ability and capacity of Mercedes to solve their issues or lack of pace.
What this weekend may tell is is that the performance of Red Bull and Mercedes is very close and that’s good news for F1 fans who have been numbed by seven years of Mercedes dominance. That’s good news for fans who are looking for a real battle between two or more teams.
There are two other very interesting storylines that have come out of the first qualifying session of 2021. Those are the pace of Alpha Tauri and Ferrari.
Initially it looked like Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc may have his hands full with Carlos Sainz, and he may well have, but a 4th place qualifying position sends a serious message to McLaren that Ferrari are not just making a move up in the midfield but could be the team most likely to secure “best of the rest” honors away from the Papaya Orange team from Woking.
Pierre Gasly’s 5th place result could show just how much improved that Honda power unit is and he may be able to challenge McLaren or at least harass them for the balance of the season.
Fernando Alonso once again showed just how good he is by dragging that Alpine into Q3 and 9th on the grid. IT was clear early on that the Alpine may have some struggles but Alonso managed to haul it into Q3.
The concern is really centered on Aston Martin and recall that I mentioned in our season preview podcast, when you place a high bar on the team, as Lawrence Stroll has, you take risks and those risks can take you backwards a step or two in order to move forwards. This transition year may be just that.
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull-Honda||1m30.499s||1m30.318s||1m28.997s|
|8||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Ferrari||1m31.653s||1m30.009s||1m30.215s|
|10||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin-Mercedes||1m31.261s||1m30.624s||1m30.601s|
|11||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull-Honda||1m31.165s||1m30.659s|
|12||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||1m30.998s||1m30.708s|
|14||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||1m31.547s||1m31.238s|
|18||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin-Mercedes||1m32.056s|