Teams' reactions after the thrilling Bahrain qualifying session

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Bahrain, Bahrain International Circuitbh

While teams were eager to keep their cards close to their chest during the Barcelona shakedown and Bahrain pre-season testing, the time arrived to show their true potential when the lights went green in yesterday’s qualifying session for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Following two difficult seasons, Ferrari have seemingly found their way back to the sharp end of the field, demonstrating their intention with a pole position thanks to a brilliant lap from Charles Leclerc and a third starting position from Carlos Sainz. Reigning world champion Max Verstappen looked to be in control of the happenings in the earlier part of the weekend, but the Belgian-Dutchman was unable to beat Ferrari’s astonishingly quick Monegasque driver.


Charles Leclerc, 1st, 1:30.558

"We knew that it was just a matter of time before we were back in the mix and I’d like to thank our whole team for the hard work that everyone has done to put our car back where it belongs. We are all happy with today’s result, but at the same time we are aware that we can’t relax and have to keep pushing because our competitors are strong.

"We focused on short runs so far in the weekend in preparation for qualifying and did a lot of high fuel laps during testing, so we have gotten to know the car in different situations and it feels good. The trickiest part today was putting the tyres in the right window, but at the end I put it all together and it feels really good to be back on pole."

Carlos Sainz, 3rd, 1:30.687

"It’s not been an easy weekend for me up until Quali, but we managed to put together a very strong performance this afternoon. Fighting for pole until the very last attempt is good news. The gap at the top has been super narrow all session, so overall I cannot be too disappointed with this first qualifying of the year.

"Congrats to Charles for this result and to the entire team for giving us such a competitive car. It’s a promising start! Looking ahead to the race, I think there’s still a bit of work to do from what we saw during the long runs in practice, but we will definitely give our maximum. I can’t wait to race tomorrow."

Red Bull

Max Verstappen, 2nd, 1:30.681

“Overall, it’s not a bad position to be in, of course you always want more but this is a positive start to the season. I think we have a good race car which is important and with it being the start of the season, there are still a lot of things to learn. Q2 was good but Q3 was a bit more hit and miss with not really getting the right balance.

"There was some oversteer and understeer so you can’t really attack the corner which makes it quite difficult to put that lap together, so that’s something we’ll need to look into. The Ferraris are of course very close and it’s going to be a tough battle, they have two strong drivers so it’s going to be exciting. The weather is meant to be warmer tomorrow so it’ll be a bit tougher on the tyres. As a Team we just have to see how competitive we are in the race, it’s a long season and a lot can happen.”

Sergio Perez, 4th, 1:30.921

“I am optimistic about tomorrow and in the race anything can happen. I just didn’t manage to get one hundred percent out of the car today but we still have a good starting position and I hope we can make up some positions come race day. It is great to have other teams up there to make things more competitive, but it is a long road ahead and what matters is tomorrow

" I think P3 was possible if we had put everything together and I was able to do that final corner again, I ran a bit too much curb through it. It would have been good to start on the clean side of the grid but a lot of overtaking can happen here and hopefully we are able to fight the Ferraris and have a good race for the fans. I am looking forward to it, I want a strong lap one and strong pace. My goal is to at least get on the podium and get a one, two for the Team. We are in a good position to fight the Ferraris.”


Lewis Hamilton, 5th, 1:31.238

"The session was tough but I’m really proud of what we’ve managed to do, given the issues we’ve had the past week. Those guys ahead of us are on another level at the moment but there’s a lot to play for tomorrow at the start and with strategy so I hope I can at least stay with them and stay in the fight.

"We’re not quick enough to win but I told you that before the weekend. It was looking like we were further behind last week, we’ve made some improvements and we’re closer, so I’m proud of what we’ve achieved and where we’ve got to. I hope we’ll make another step next week and bit by bit, we’ll hunt those guys down. The improvements come from our collective efforts, we’re working as hard as we can and I know it’s a long, long way to go but I love a challenge."

George Russell, 9th, 1:32.216

"Today wasn’t ideal for me, I went one second slower in Q3 than I did in Q2; with only one set of fresh tyres for Q3, I tried something different on my out-lap and it didn’t work. I’m glad I tried something because we want to be fighting Ferrari and Red Bull. We had one shot, maybe it was too risky but we’re here to fight for podiums and victories, not to settle for P5 and P6. The pace of our car is definitely behind Ferrari and Red Bull, and ahead of the rest of the midfield, so my target for tomorrow is to get ahead of that group.

"We’re trying absolutely everything at the moment to solve our global issues with the car. We all knew with the regulation change that anything could happen, the only promising thing is we have major issues and we’re still the third-fastest team. If we were in this position and everything felt great, then we’d be a little bit puzzled. It race day tomorrow and I’ll be giving it my all."

Alfa Romeo

Valtteri Bottas, 6th, 1:31.560

“To be on the third row in our first qualifying together is a big achievement and we need to be satisfied – both me and the team. My session was really smooth and I improved a little bit in every run, which is what you set out to do in qualifying. It’s an important moment for us as it shows we can be up here. I am proud of the job everyone did, here and at the factory: we knew we had a chance to be in Q3 but it was good to actually do it when everyone turned up with everything they had.

"Now we focus on the race: our long run pace looked even better than on the single lap, so we can be in the fight. The top four are probably out of reach for everyone, but it would be nice to have a battle with Mercedes. In any case, this is the start of our journey and I want us to look forward and not back: the objective is to be up here at the flag and bring home good points.”

Zhou Guanyu, 15th, 1:33.543

“I am really happy with Q2 on my first race weekend. This was always my initial target and to clear this box in my first race is something that I really wanted after seeing how the car performed in the practice sessions. I was very relaxed this morning as I knew my preparation for tonight had been good, but there was still a bit of pressure as I knew we could have a good result: once I made it to Q2, the pressure was off and I could give everything in the laps I had. Unfortunately, my best attempt was deleted – I saw the replay and it was really close. We lost one place due to that, but we’re still in a good position: there are a lot of positives we can take ahead of tomorrow.

"I am pleased with the progress I have made from one session to the other this weekend: even during qualifying, there was a lot of evolution as the session progressed, so the learning never stops. I don’t have a set target for my first race – I want to move forward as I know we were good in race trim during testing, so we have an opportunity to make up places. I know everyone will be watching at home, it’s great to have so much support and I want to give everything for them and for the team.”


Mick Schumacher, 12th, 1:31.998
“Q3 was definitely possible today and I’m gutted that I didn’t get there. The good thing is that we know we have the potential and it’s just a matter of putting it together over the next 23 races. Points are realistic, we have a car to do that, it’s just a matter of putting everything together. We have a lot of races coming our way so I’m sure we’ll be in a position to do that.”

Kevin Magnussen, 7th, 1:31.808

“It’s crazy. This is all we ever could’ve hoped for – I’m speechless. The last couple of weeks have been insane. Getting here, learning about the car, seeing that it is maybe a pretty good one and being so anxious about this qualifying to really see how it is and then finding out it is really good. I got through to Q3 on one set of tyres and in Q2 I only ran one set – I think I was P4 or something after the first run and ended up P7. Then we had some issue that needed more time to fix so we only got that one run again Q3 and still managed to get P7. It’s just so cool and I can’t wait to get started.”


Fernando Alonso, 8th, 1:32.195
“I’m happy with today’s qualifying, because after the winter you never know exactly where the team’s performance is going to be. Every new season you can have positive or negative surprises, so to see both cars fighting for the top ten, is a good start. The job done over the winter at Enstone and Viry-Chatillon has clearly been positive, and the car feels good. The development has been good and now we need to be fast off-track as well. It’ll be interesting to see how the new cars can fight tomorrow and it’s great to see a mixed-up grid. It seems easier to follow the cars ahead, whether it provides more action on track we shall soon see, and the first couple of laps will be interesting. Tyre degradation and the resulting race strategy are going to be critical considerations for tomorrow.”

Esteban Ocon, 11th, 1:31.782

“Firstly, it’s a great feeling to be back in qualifying mode and giving it my all under the thrill of proper racing conditions. Heading into the session today we knew it was going to be a tight one, especially to get into Q3. We were lacking a bit of pace on my side of the garage during the weekend, but we stepped it up today for qualifying and losing out on Q3 by such a small margin is of course frustrating but there are definitely positives to take. We still have a new set of tyres for tomorrow and we’re starting from the clean side of the grid, so that should lead to an exciting race and I already can’t wait to get back out there.”


Pierre Gasly, 10th, 1:32.338

“I’m really happy with today. We knew we’d struggle in Qualifying, which is why we started with three sets in Q1 but then I had a really strong lap in Q2 and made it through with just one new tyre, there’s no way heading into Quali that we would’ve believed that would happen. Obviously, we’d like to fight for more, but we know at the moment that we’ve got some work to do. Considering our performance in practice, particularly in these colder conditions, we should be really pleased with today. It’s difficult to predict what’s going to happen tomorrow, as it’s the first race with these new cars, but I think there’s going to be some good racing from what I felt in practice. We’ll aim for some good points and hopefully we have a good one.”

Yuki Tsunoda, 16th, 1:32.750
“It’s been quite a difficult day. We knew that the car hadn’t been performing as well as we thought it might here in the colder conditions, then of course we missed FP3, but we’d still aimed to make it through to Q2 and sadly that didn’t happen today. We don’t know what other teams’ race pace will be like here tomorrow, the aim of course is to make it to the points, but I think it’s going to be hard.”


Lando Norris, 13th, 1:32.008

“Mixed feelings from today. I think we did a good job with what we had, we’re simply just not quite as quick as we want to be. I feel like I did a good lap and we had a good plan. We did make some improvements but, of course, so does everyone else. We do need to find a lot of pace in the car but I think we maximised what we had today and we’ll try to gain a few more positions tomorrow in the first race of the season.

“We’re a little bit on the back foot comparing to other teams, so there’s many things for us to learn and find out in the race tomorrow. We’re always aiming for points, and that’s what we’ll be working on tonight and into the race tomorrow.”

Daniel Ricciardo, 18th, 1:32.945

“It’s been a tough weekend so far, unfortunately. Last time I drove in Barcelona, we left pretty optimistic but, we’ve got new kinds of challenges here this weekend. With the lost time last week, trying to get up to speed, it proved trickier than I hoped. There’s a lot of work to do, and today we didn’t have a good result, but we’ll work on it and look at how we move forward tomorrow.”


Nicholas Latifi, 20th, 1:1:33.634

“It's definitely not what we expected from qualifying, there’s clearly been a lack of pace all weekend. Each session we’ve actually been learning quite a lot, but for some reason, it’s felt like we’ve been going backwards as the car felt the best in FP1, which is strange for a track like this especially. I know why I was so far off – the answer is clear – the question is why we couldn’t make the tyres work the way we need them to. It’s not ideal, but the race is tomorrow and we’ve got a lot to analyse before then to further our learning.”

Alex Albon, 14th, 1:32.664

“We put it all on the table today and the result was more than we expected, so it’s a pretty special one. The car gives me a lot of confidence, as do the team, which really enabled me to push and get the most out of qualifying. Coming into the session, I was expecting similar struggles to those we experienced in testing, but the car felt alive, quick and agile, so I’m going into Sunday feeling positive.”

Aston Martin

Nico Hulkenberg, 17th, 1:32.777

“Obviously we are not happy with P17 but, on a personal level, I am happy. Considering that I had very limited experience with the car, I was able to put together some clean laps without any errors. The field is very close this year so it was fine margins that stopped us from reaching Q2. The real challenge begins tomorrow for me: I have not raced a Formula One car in almost two years. You cannot really prepare for going wheel-to-wheel with other cars and having to do things like tyre management. However, I am looking forward to racing the AMR22 tomorrow and I intend to enjoy every lap in the car.”

Lance Stroll, 19th, 1:33.032

“We are disappointed with today’s result and it is not what we expected after a positive FP3. We made some changes to the car and perhaps they were in the wrong direction. In qualifying, we did not have the grip to extract the performance. We need to go over the data and understand it so we can learn from this. The early races are going to be a learning curve as we try to understand the car more. Tomorrow is a new day, so we will come back ready to try to make progress in the race.”