Verstappen beats Mercedes for pole positon, Hamilton P2

27-03-2021 16:00 | Updated: 27-03-2021 16:46
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Verstappen beats Mercedes for pole positon, Hamilton P2

Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing prove they have a realistic chance of taking the title fight to Mercedes by securing pole position for the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix. The Dutchman sits on pole for the fourth time in his career, continuing from where he left off in Abu Dhabi three months ago.

After pre-season doubts, Mercedes demonstrate they will be in the fight as Hamilton's time was just 0.388 from Verstappen's pole lap. Valtteri Bottas rounds out the top three. On his Red Bull Racing debut, Sergio Perez failed to make it into Q3. Perez had his first run lap time deleted and Red Bull opted to gamble with medium tyres on the second run. 

The Bahrain International Circuit hasn't been a happy hunting ground for Verstappen in the past. The 23-year-old has achieved just one previous podium in the Bahrain Grand Prix, which came at the end of the 2020 F1 season. For the first time in the hybrid era, Mercedes are not on pole for the opening race of the season.

Verstappen potentially damaged his car by running hard over the kerbs in Q1. The Dutchman created plenty of sparks and a few bits fell off the car. It's uncertain if this reduced his lap time. 

Sebastian Vettel didn't get his new chapter started on a positive note. The German driver will start the Bahrain Grand Prix from 18th place after being hampered by yellow flags in his final run of Q1. 

Q1

In his first meaningful session in Formula 1, Mazepin had a spin at turn 13. He managed to keep it out of the barriers, but it was perhaps an indication of wind levels at the top of the track. 

After the first wave of laps, Verstappen topped the timesheets by going 0.188s faster than Hamilton. However, it was AlphaTauri who raised the eyebrows with a P2 and P6. Yuki Tsunoda was only 0.108 behind the Dutchman. 

On his debut for Aston Martin, Sebastian Vettel failed to make it out of Q1. The four-time World Champion will start from 18th place, behind Nicholas Latifi and Esteban Ocon. Mazepin had another spin, this time at turn one and he ruined a couple of laps including Vettel's lap. Carlos Sainz had an issue out on the circuit, but limped around to the pits. He sneaked in with a P15 in Q1. 

OUT

16th, Ocon. 17th, Latifi. 18th, Vettel. 19th, Schumacher. 20th, Mazepin. 

Q2

For the first time this season, Hamilton and Mercedes jumped ahead of Verstappen in the first run of Q2. In those first runs, Sergio Perez put himself under pressure by getting his lap time deleted for running wide at turn four. Most opted to run with the medium tyres, apart from Ferrari who only managed P5 and P7. 

Perez dug himself out of the hole, but he dropped back down with other drivers improving. Perez failed to make it out of Q2. The gamble on medium tyres failed to work for the Red Bull driver. 

OUT

11th, Perez. 12th, Giovinazzi. 13th, Tsunoda. 14th, Raikkonen. 15th, Russell. 

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