How the teams reacted on Bahrain qualifying

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Formula One has produced a truly remarkable and amazing start to the 2021 F1 season with Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen comfortably beating reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton for the pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix. The session also saw Ferrari deliver clear signs of improvements after their sub-optimal 2020 campaign.


George Russell, 15th, 1:33.430

"That performance was the absolute maximum today and I am really happy. Even though we have made a step closer to the front of the field, the Alfa has made an even greater step, so I wasn’t expecting to get into Q2 today. I am really pleased we managed to put a clean lap together, get the most out of it and sneak into Q2. It’s going to be a tough, long race but we need to capitalise where we can and not make any mistakes."

Nicholas Latifi, 17th, 1:31.936

"It was tough today and I am not completely satisfied. We have been struggling all weekend to find the right balance of the car, as well as get some consistency and driveability. However, the qualifying session for me was the best the car has felt so far this weekend. The wind switched around 180 degrees and the car handled completely differently, but I still struggled out there. It will be a long and exciting race tomorrow though and we will see what we can do."


Pierre Gasly, 5th, 1:29.809
“I’m really pleased with my performance today, it’s one of my best qualifying positions I’ve had with the team. For the first race of the year it’s important for us to show some good potential for the season ahead and I think we’ve managed to do that today. Only using the medium tyre in Q2 was a huge risk, but we managed to make it work, and hopefully we can use this to our advantage tomorrow in the race. I’ll try to make the most of the position we’re starting from on the grid– I think there’s clearly an opportunity for us and I will do everything possible to get as many points as I can for the team.”

Yuki Tsunoda, 13th, 1:31.203

“I’m a bit disappointed if I’m honest, I showed I had the pace on the medium tyre in Q1 and I felt confident with our strategy going into Q2, but I just didn’t have the grip during those final laps. It’s a shame to not be starting the race further up the grid but we know the race pace is there, so let’s see what we can do tomorrow. I’ll analyse the data tonight with my engineers, ahead of the race tomorrow, as I am continuing to learn from every lap that I complete. There are still lots of positives to take-away from today – it was my first Formula 1 qualifying session and I’m feeling confident in the car. I think we’re still in a reasonable position and have the potential to make our way forward during the race.”

Alfa Romeo

Kimi Raikkonen, 14th, 1:31.238

“Not a bad result for the first qualifying of the year: of course, it could have been a bit better, as I made a couple of small mistakes here and there in my laps, but it could have been a lot worse. We made a few changes to the car after the morning to anticipate the conditions and perhaps they didn’t work as well as we expected, but we are still in a good position for the race. We’ll need to see how the weather is tomorrow, do our best and see what we can get out of the race. We are confident our package is better and we can fight for a good result.”

Antonio Giovinazzi, 12th, 1:30.708

“We can be really happy with this result as tomorrow we will start just outside the top 10 and with a free choice of tyres. We have a very good opportunity to achieve a good result as we saw how our performance was close to the cars ahead of us. Today helps us confirm the positive feeling we had after testing: we have improved compared to last year and we feel we can have a lot more fun this season. Our focus is now all on tomorrow: it will be tricky, especially with the wind, but we can bring home a good result. We need to put everything together – strategy, start, pit stops – and get the maximum out of our cars, but we can definitely aim for the points.”


Lewis Hamilton, 2nd, 1:29.385

"Max did a great lap, nearly 0.4 is a big gap so we have some work to do! The car was feeling good in Q1 and Q2, we took until the last minute trying to find the right set-up and it felt sweet. Just at the end I couldn't get any more from it but still, it was exciting. I'm immensely proud of everyone. We've worked very hard over the last week to try and understand the package that we have. We made some steps forward but we couldn't compete with that last lap Max did. P2 puts us in a position to cause Red Bull trouble tomorrow."

Valtteri Bottas, 3rd, 1:29.586

"Today was a lot better than testing. Throughout qualifying I was feeling more and more comfortable. At least we are closer to Red Bull than we were in testing. We have two cars to battle against one Red Bull tomorrow. I had to use two sets of tyres in Q1 so I only had one new set for Q3 which put me at a disadvantage. But starting from third at this track isn't bad so I'm looking forward to it. Red Bull seem to have more stability, particularly in the wind. We have two cars in the top three so we can definitely still fight for the win."

Red Bull

Max Verstappen, 1st, 1:28.997

“It’s a great feeling to be on pole and I haven’t experienced a season start like this. After the victory in Abu Dhabi the whole Team has been pushing really hard and even more motivated. There is still no guarantee for the rest of the year but everyone here and back at the factory have done a great job to give me a car like this and they should be very proud. Honda have also been working very hard this winter, just like every year. They are flat out all of the time and like us they just want to win.

"It is really enjoyable working with them and they are very passionate which I like, so a big credit to Honda for the result today as they have had a great winter. After testing it is always difficult to know where you are and we really didn’t know how it would be in qualifying but when you have a lap like that in Q3 and such a good feeling in the car you can be happy. We have to finish it off tomorrow but if I can have a good start I’m confident we can do a good job.”

Sergio Perez, 11th, 1:30.659

“Congratulations to Max and the Team on pole position as that’s the perfect way to start the season. On my side I wasn’t expecting to qualify in eleventh and obviously it’s not an ideal start but we are making progress and I made a good step between FP3 and qualifying, it just wasn’t enough.

"We were absolutely right to use the medium tyres in Q2 but unfortunately it just didn’t pay off and I didn’t deliver the lap I should have. I went wide at Turn 13 and lost a couple of tenths and the field is so tight that it knocked me out of Q3. It’s a shame as the extra kilometres and comparison to Max would have helped me to progress but tomorrow is a new day and anything can happen around this track so hopefully we can make a good recovery.”


Charles Leclerc, 4th, 1:29.678

"We know now where we are in terms of qualy pace and it’s a pleasant surprise, as we didn’t expect to be here, but today we need to keep our feet on the ground. It’s only the first qualy of the year and it’s run in very strange conditions. I think we should be satisfied as a team with the step we made since last year, so to be so far forward on the grid feels great. I have been struggling in FP2 and FP3 as I could not find the feeling with the car but I worked quite a lot on the driving and in qualy I was actually quite confident I would be able to do the lap I wanted.

"I feel confident for tomorrow but it’s going to be difficult as other cars around us seem to be very strong in terms of race pace and are starting on mediums, so it’s going to be tricky to keep them behind. Also, it’s not going to be easy because of the wind, but that’s the same for everyone."

Carlos Sainz, 8th, 1:30.215

"A very positive day for the team. I think we can be happy with where we are. We had that very big shock in Q1, with the car turning off, but thankfully I could start it again and made it to the pits. It’s not always easy to recover from that, but we managed to have a very strong Q2. I’m obviously not happy with my last attempt in Q3. I went for it, but I’m probably lacking a bit more knowledge on the car and I couldn’t put together a clean lap. It is what it is. In general, though, I’m happy. I’ve been improving throughout the sessions, with good pace and very few mistakes so I want to keep gaining experience with the car and building confidence on a one-timed lap.

"There will be time to analyse qualifying in depth next week, but now I want to switch my full focus to tomorrow’s race. I’m looking forward to my first ever race with the team and we’ll give our best to gain positions and finish as high as possible."


Daniel Ricciardo, 6th, 1:29.927

“It’s a pleasant relief to get the first quali out of the way and get a decent result. I think, after the test, I was fairly comfortable in the car but probably more so on long runs. I still felt that, if anything, my Saturdays were going to need improving – and I think they still do – but I certainly made a nice step from a couple of weeks ago and I’m happy. We've got a good platform to build on now, I’m really happy with how we approached it as a team, not putting too much pressure on me. We were a bit off the pace yesterday, but they could see I was just trying to figure it out.

"I don’t want to do somersaults or backflips just yet, but it’s certainly a nice start for the campaign and I think we’ll do alright tomorrow. There’s a mix of cars around us, so I’m looking forward to that, and with Lando alongside hopefully we can get some big points for the team and start the year right.”

Lando Norris, 7th, 1:29.974

“Tricky qualifying, just because it’s very close between everyone. First one of the season, so I think we’re pretty happy with sixth and seventh for the team and getting to see where the car is – it’s a good position for tomorrow. It’s probably a bit more of a race track than a qualifying track, so hopefully, after focusing a little bit on that throughout the weekend, we can be strong tomorrow.”

Aston Martin

Sebastian Vettel, 18th, 1:32.056

"I think it is fair to say the result today is disappointing and not what we wanted. My first lap in Q1 had quite a bit of margin for improvement, but on my second run there were two yellow flags, which made it impossible to progress to Q2. There was a yellow flag at turn one and one later in the lap too. I was just unlucky with my position on the track. On a positive note, the car felt better in qualifying and all the work we have done since testing is taking us in a good direction, so we have the potential to be faster. Even though we are not starting where we want to be, it is tomorrow that counts. Our job is to maximise all the opportunities and see what happens.”

Lance Stroll, 10th, 1:30.601

“It was a good fight out there today and it is clear that the midfield has become even closer this year because a lost tenth or two will put you in Q2. The AMR21 felt good, but we have got plenty of work ahead to keep improving and to try and push back towards the top end of Q3. I am really excited to get going for tomorrow’s race because the first race is always a little bit unpredictable and exciting. We are starting inside the top 10 and with a good start, strong tyre management and well executed strategy, we can target some good points tomorrow. We just need to go away tonight, get our heads down, and keep on improving our understanding of the car.”


Fernando Alonso, 9th, 1:30.249

“We have to be pleased with our qualifying session today. I wasn’t totally confident with the car balance in any of the practice sessions this weekend. In qualifying, though, the temperature was a lot cooler and I was able to attack and feel the car a little bit better. It was really exciting to drive these cars again with low fuel and peak performance from the tyres. Qualifying is always amazing to experience in Formula 1 and I have missed that feeling! The plan for tomorrow is to attack and score points. We’ll try to make up some positions from our starting spot but we have to be wary of the cars around us as some of our competitors are starting on the medium tyres so it will be a close race.”

Esteban Ocon, 16th, 1:31.724

“It was a very disappointing qualifying on our side of the garage. Unfortunately, the yellow flag meant I had to lift off through sector two and I lost quite a lot of lap time as a result. It’s unfortunate as there was pace for a lot more today. I think as a team we’ve worked well all weekend during the practice sessions and had a good set up on the car for qualifying, so it’s disappointing not to show our potential. Tomorrow, we still target points. Anything can happen and we’ll push hard to make up some places and comeback. The weekend is not over.”


Mick Schumacher, 19th, 1:32.449

“I enjoyed the experience a lot. In general, I was happy with my performance today, I’d say I was about 95 percent happy with my lap. I had one little moment with it where I felt I could have done better. To be honest, after having had a disruptive run, it was kind of okay. The car had felt good coming from FP3 and the communication with the team was really good. There’s definitely room for improvement on my side, so I’m just looking forward to being able to get into another qualifying soon. The race is going to be interesting as we see how the cars are going to behave in windier conditions. My main focus is to learn and to gain experience and build on that for the future.”

Nikita Mazepin, 20th, 1:33.273

“The conditions in qualifying were very tricky, they’d changed a lot from FP3. Obviously, the temperature had dropped down and the wind had turned around, and these Formula 1 cars are very wind-affected. I had an issue with my brake-by-wire and I locked-up on the rears at Turn 1. The pedal just went long, it’s something we need to look into. It wasn’t something I expected, and I hadn’t had it happen before driving in the test here or in practice. Hopefully that won’t happen tomorrow. There’s still plenty to look for but this was always going to be difficult coming into qualifying.”