Bahrain GP: Verstappen storms to pole ahead of Hamilton

Max Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton to the first pole position of the new Formula 1 season, as the Red Bull driver topped 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying by over 0.3s.

Verstappen, who was fastest in all three practice sessions at the Sakhir track, and Hamilton duelled for the top spot through Q3, with the latter twice taking provisional pole before being usurped.

Hamilton's first Q3 run of 1m29.549s ended up 0.023s behind Verstappen's 1m29.526s.

On the second runs, Hamilton improved to a 1m29.383s, but crucially did not improve his personal best time in the middle sector.

Verstappen, by contrast, swept to the session's fastest times in all three sectors on his final run, as he took pole with a 1m28.997s.

Valtteri Bottas improved on his final run in Q3 to take third in the second Mercedes, with Charles Leclerc fourth for Ferrari.

Leclerc, like Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso, only did on run in Q3 and used his one shot to knocked AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly back to fifth.

Daniel Ricciardo beat his new McLaren teammate Lando Norris to sixth, with Carlos Sainz eighth in the second Ferrari.

Sainz had had a nervous moment at the end of Q1 when his engine appeared to cut out on his final run after he'd clattered over the kerbs at the exit of Turn 2 and was forced to trail slowly back to the pits.

Alonso's F1 qualifying return resulted in ninth, with Stroll shuffled back to 10th after completing his sole Q3 run in the gap between the majority of the runners doing their first and second laps.

Verstappen, the two Mercedes drivers and Gasly will start the race on the medium tyres after getting through Q2 with a significant strategy advantage over the rest of the top 10, as the soft tyres the rest will use are likely to degrade heavily in the opening stint.

Sergio Perez's first qualifying at Red Bull did not go to plan, as he was knocked out by Norris's final improvement at the end of Q2.

The Mexican driver had had his first Q2 time deleted for running too wide and falling foul of the track limits policing at the exit of the Turn 4 wide right-hander, while running on the medium tyres.

He went again on the mediums at the end of Q2 and even though he went over a tenth faster than the deleted lap, other cars improving behind him meant he was shuffled out of the top 10.

Antonio Giovinazzi scored his best dry qualifying result since the 2019 Brazilian GP with P12, ahead of Yuki Tsunoda, who also could not get through Q2 on the medium tyres.
The AlphaTauri driver had finished Q1 in P2 but could not replicate his teammate's effort on the yellow-walled rubber and was knocked out in 13th.

Kimi Raikkonen finished 15th, ahead of George Russell, who got out out of Q1 for the 10th time since the start of last season.

In Q1, a late Turn 1 spin for Haas driver Nikita Mazepin, who also spun off at Turn 13 at the start of the final sector in the early minutes of the opening segment of qualifying, cost two high-profile drivers.

A late improvement for Stroll meant Esteban Ocon was knocked out in P16 and left to rue the spun Haas in front of him at the start of his final lap – but this was still his best time and Ocon may be vulnerable to a post-qualifying stewards' investigation that will examine all times set under the yellow flags that Mazepin's off brought out.

Nicholas Latifi ended up 17th after setting his best time in Q1 ahead of Mazepin's incident, while Sebastian Vettel's difficult start to life at Aston Martin continued as he was knocked out in P18 – another driver who came across Mazepin's car at Turn 1 on their final laps, and Vettel was came across yellows for Sainz's slow travelling car exiting the Turn 8 hairpin.

Mick Schumacher's improvement on his final Q1 lap boosted him ahead of Mazepin on the all-Haas final row of the grid.

Cla Driver Chassis Time Gap km/h
1 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull 1'28.997   218.919
2 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1'29.385 0.388 217.969
3 Finland Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1'29.586 0.589 217.480
4 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1'29.678 0.681 217.257
5 France Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1'29.809 0.812 216.940
6 Australia Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1'29.927 0.930 216.655
7 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren 1'29.974 0.977 216.542
8 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 1'30.215 1.218 215.964
9 Spain Fernando Alonso Alpine 1'30.249 1.252 215.882
10 Canada Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1'30.601 1.604 215.043
11 Mexico Sergio Perez Red Bull 1'30.659 1.662 214.906
12 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1'30.708 1.711 214.790
13 Japan Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1'31.203 2.206 213.624
14 Finland Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 1'31.238 2.241 213.542
15 United Kingdom George Russell Williams 1'33.430 4.433 208.532
16 France Esteban Ocon Alpine 1'31.724 2.727 212.411
17 Canada Nicholas Latifi Williams 1'31.936 2.939 211.921
18 Germany Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1'32.056 3.059 211.645
19 Germany Mick Schumacher Haas 1'32.449 3.452 210.745
20 Russian Federation Nikita Mazepin Haas 1'33.273 4.276 208.883
shares
comments

Related video

Bahrain GP qualifying as it happened

Previous article

Bahrain GP qualifying as it happened

Next article

Vettel "upset and angry" after Bahrain Q1 exit

Vettel "upset and angry" after Bahrain Q1 exit
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Event Bahrain GP
Sub-event QU
Author Alex Kalinauckas
Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish” Prime

Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish”

We’ve seen five distinct versions of Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes as he’s tried to fulfil his own ambitions while being a consummate team player – two difficult, competing missions which have been challenging to reconcile. Speaking exclusively to Stuart Codling, Bottas explains his highs and lows… and why he still believes he can be world champion.

How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean? Prime

How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But how long will their battle remain clean? Jonathan Noble ponders that exact point

Formula 1
May 13, 2021
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Prime

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Prime

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button.

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Prime

How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace Prime

The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace

Lewis Hamilton led the way in Friday practice for the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix, but there was one major encouraging sign for Red Bull. However, making good on that gain will require Max Verstappen to avoid repeating a mistake that left him well down the FP2 order...

Formula 1
May 7, 2021
Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place Prime

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place

Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his teammate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon.

Formula 1
May 6, 2021