Verstappen beats Hamilton to pole for Bahrain GP

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 26: Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing prepares to drive in the garage during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 26, 2021 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202103260772 // Usage for editorial use only //

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.

1Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1m30.499s1m30.318s1m28.997s
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1m30.317s1m30.085s1m29.385s
3Valtteri BottasMercedes1m31.2s1m30.186s1m29.586s
4Charles LeclercFerrari1m30.691s1m30.01s1m29.678s
5Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda1m30.848s1m30.513s1m29.809s
6Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-Mercedes1m30.795s1m30.222s1m29.927s
7Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1m30.902s1m30.099s1m29.974s
8Carlos Sainz Jr.Ferrari1m31.653s1m30.009s1m30.215s
9Fernando AlonsoAlpine-Renault1m30.863s1m30.595s1m30.249s
10Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1m31.261s1m30.624s1m30.601s
11Sergio PérezRed Bull-Honda1m31.165s1m30.659s
12Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1m30.998s1m30.708s
13Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda1m30.607s1m31.203s
14Kimi RäikkönenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1m31.547s1m31.238s
15George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1m31.316s1m33.43s
16Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1m31.724s
17Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1m31.936s
18Sebastian VettelAston Martin-Mercedes1m32.056s
19Mick SchumacherHaas-Ferrari1m32.449s
20Nikita MazepinHaas-Ferrari1m33.273s
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Tim C.

On the surface it would appear that Honda may have created an engine that is equal to the Merc. We’ll know more in a race or two on that front. But wouldn’t it be par for the course for Honda to leave F1 when things start going their way. Will they ever learn?!?

Xean Drury

You know what; first, the cars are about a second slower than last year (which I don’t care about, just mentioning it). Second, is there even a midfield this year? Gdamn they’re all real close. This’ll be the tastiest season ever!! <3 <3 (o^-^o)

Last edited 3 years ago by Xean Drury
Richard Hunt

Ferrari must have started work on this year’s car way, way before many people thought. LEC taking 4th was the 2nd biggest story today I think.