Saturday, March 27, 2021

Verstappen's Early Red Bull Rush Takes Pole in Bahrain


Photo Credit: FIA Pool/LAT Images/Pirelli


An all-new season for Formula 1 has arrived with a slew of pre-season storylines set to be explored as engines turn over for the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix.

A consistent source of astonishment and a fair level of distain of competitors is the dominance of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team. A constant fore-runner since the series’ adoption of the current turbo/hybrid power unit format, Mercedes-AMG with Valtteri Bottas as well as seven-time and reigning Formula 1 World Drivers’ Champion Lewis Hamilton continued to have winning pace last season. However, the 2020 season gave glimpses that Red Bull Racing could potentially achieve the enviable task of matching the performance of the German factory team. Max Verstappen’s Honda-powered race car frequently had the pace to fill the mirrors of Bottas and Hamilton last year, At the 2020 season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Verstappen and Red Bull Racing put on an impressive showcase taking pole along with the race win convincingly. Though just one event, Red Bull Racing’s performance on the Yas Marina Circuit gives reason to consider 2021 may present Mercedes-AMG with battle unlike any experienced since their seven consecutive Constructors’ championship-winning seasons.

Ahead of Formula 1's season-opening 57-lap event, the 5.412-kilometer Bahrain International Circuit hosted Saturday qualifying to set the grid for the Bahrain Grand Prix. Setting fastest time in the Q1 session, Max Verstappen and his Red Bull Racing team became concerned with the underside of his #33 RB16B race car after the Dutch driver rode a track curb. Though he was bettered on pace in Q2, Verstappen valiantly fought to take pole for the Bahrain Grand Prix late in Q3. Shortly after Lewis Hamilton grabbed the top spot with a 1-minute, 29.385-second lap time, the Honda-powered Red Bull flew across the start/finish line setting the pole of 1 minute, 28.997 seconds. Accounting for his top grid position at Formula 1'a last race of 2020, Verstappen has become the first non-Mercedes driver to score back-to-back poles since Charles Leclerc accomplished the feat during the 2019 campaign.

Though Max Verstappen provided Red Bull Racing with a major reason to celebrate after Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying, the second car driven by new team driver Sergio Perez had a less successful outing. Perez will start 11th after attempting to advance beyond Q2 on medium compound Pirelli tires.

Photo Credit: Sebastian Kawka for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix ltd.

Lewis Hamilton starts second for tomorrow’s Bahrain Grand Prix as the defending winner of the event. Setting a top time in the Q3 session that was 0.589 seconds short of Max Verstappen’s benchmark, Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas will launch from third on the second row of the race grid alongside Charles Leclerc. Leclerc and his new teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. gave Scuderia Ferrari and their Tifosi to cheer taking the top two spots in the Q2 session aided by the use of soft compound tires. Sainz will start the Bahrain Grand Prix in eighth place.

Pierre Gasly’s Honda-powered AlphaTauri race car was fifth fastest in Formula 1 qualifying and will start the race beside Daniel Ricciardo who is making his debut with McLaren. McLaren’s return to Mercedes-Benz power showed promise for the squad through Friday practice and contributed to a sixth place after qualifying for Ricciardo and seventh for Lando Norris.

Photo Credit: Mark Sutton/LAT Images/Pirelli

Two-time Formula 1 drivers’ champion Fernando Alonso’s return to Formula 1 racing after a two-year hiatus sees the Spaniard in ninth place ahead of Sunday’s main event driving for Renault’s rebranded Alpine F1 Team. Aston Martin Racing, the rebranded entity that was known as Racing Point last year, starts 2021 with a top qualifying effort coming from Canada’s Lance Stroll who will roll off the grid in tenth place. Stroll’s high-profile new teammate Sebastian Vettel will start the Bahrain Grand Prix in 17th place after being impeded by local yellow flags in his Q1 session run.

The 2021 Formula 1 season opener is scheduled for Sunday at 6 p.m. local time or 11 a.m. Eastern time.

2021 Formula 1

Bahrain Grand Prix

Qualifying Results

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine
1 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
3 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
4 16 Charles Leclerc Scuderia Misson Winnow Ferrari Ferrari
5 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
6 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
7 4 Lando Norris McLaren F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
8 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Misson Winnow Ferrari Ferrari
9 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine F1 Team Renault
10 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
11 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing Honda
12 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari
13 22 Yuki Tsunoda Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
14 7 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari
15 63 George Russell Williams Racing Mercedes-Benz
16 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine F1 Team Renault
17 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Racing Mercedes-Benz
18 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
19 47 Mick Schumacher Uralkali Haas F1 Team Ferrari
20 9 Nikita Mazepin Uralkali Haas F1 Team Ferrari

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