F1 Bahrain GP Live Commentary and Updates - FP3 and Qualifying
By: James Newbold, Megan White, Haydn Cobb
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1. Verstappen, Red Bull
2. Hamilton, Mercedes
3. Bottas, Mercedes
4. Leclerc, Ferrari
5. Gasly, AlphaTauri
6. Ricciardo, McLaren
7. Norris, McLaren
8. Sainz, Ferrari
9. Alonso, Alpine
10. Stroll, Aston Martin
The Bahrain GP starts tomorrow at 6pm local time (4pm UK time) - watch out for both the slightly earlier start time and the clocks changing tonight. We'll have you covered though, so be sure to check back in tomorrow for all the pre-race news and build-up before the big one. Until then, go well!
Strong showings also by Leclerc for Ferrari and Gasly for AlphaTauri, while there is plenty to contemplate for Vettel at Aston Martin. But, remember, this is just qualifying. The real fun begins tomorrow with the opening race of the 2021 F1 season.
So, that was fun. All the chat and favourite tagging pre-weekend has resulted in Verstappen taking pole position for Red Bull, but he has two Mercedes to fight on his own, with his new team-mate Perez starting outside of the top 10.
Here's the full report on qualifying for the Bahrain GP: https://www.autosport.com/f1/news/bahrain-gp-qualifying-shell/5938984/
Top 3 interviewer David Coulthard, who turns 50 today, is presented with a birthday cake by Verstappen but the pole-sitter slams the cake into Coulthard's face. Poor David - but who doesn't love a bit of slapstick cake-related humour.
Bottas on his P3: "Practice today wasn't easy, the balance was a bit better [in qualifying]. In Q3 I only had one set of tyres so it was tricky to compete with Lewis and Max."
Hamilton on his second place in qualifying: "Congratulations to Max. I gave it everything I had but it wasn't enough. I got everything I could from the car. We did a good job coming back from testing and to improve like this."
Verstappen on his pole position: "It all worked out perfectly in qualifying and I'm delighted with pole position. Basically my first lap in Q3 wasn't amazing so I knew there was more in it. But I wasn't sure how much. Luckily, when it mattered, we could perform."
Verstappen takes a sip of water and acts like it is nothing new. All casual. Bet he's buzzing inside.
Leclerc slots into fourth for Ferrari beating Gasly by two-tenths, followed by the McLaren pair as Ricciardo beats team-mate Norris. Sainz will start from P8, with Alonso P9 and Stroll P10.
Verstappen takes pole position for the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix! Hamilton is second with Bottas in third.
...Bottas puts in a 1m29.586s to go third. Hamilton also improves with a 1m 29.385s to take provisional pole, but it doesn't last as Verstappen does it again! A 1m28.997s means pole position for the Red Bull driver!
Chequered flag is out for the end of Q3. Verstappen is quickest of all through sector 1...
Bottas duly stays at the front of the train ahead of team-mate Hamilton at the start of the final timed laps. All or nothing now.
Just before Stroll completed that lap, the other nine drivers in Q3 came out together. Everyone is battling for the ideal slot in the train, which is led by Bottas.
Stroll, on what should be his sole Q3 run, is on the track on his own. The Aston Martin driver puts in a 1m30.601s to go P6.
Advantage Verstappen, but it all hangs on the second and final runs that are coming up. Gasly remains third ahead of Bottas with Sainz in fifth.
Here come the big guns, Bottas cannot beat Gasly's time but Hamilton can with a 1m29.549s to take provisional pole. But not for long as here comes Verstappen with a 1m29.526s! Verstappen on pole as it stands.
Ricciardo posts the first time of 1m31.384s but is quickly beaten by Gasly's 1m30.014s. Strong lap by the AlphaTauri driver.