The first Friday qualifying session in Formula 1 since 2003 was a productive one for Red Bull Racing as the grid was set for Saturday’s first ever Sprint with Max on the front row.
In Q1, Max set the pace and was the only driver to advance with just one run, while Sergio was fourth. Scuderia AlphaTauri had a tougher time of things due to the high level of track evolution, and while Pierre did make it through in 13th position, Yuki unfortunately dropped out in 16th, ending up just 0.026s away from a place in Q2 after going for two timed laps on his final run.
It was a sign of things to come in the second part of qualifying, as the two Red Bulls again made it safely through, while Pierre improved on his Q1 performance to gain a position but will start the Sprint from 12th place. Soft tyres were all that could be used by the drivers in qualifying as part of the new format this weekend, with a free choice of compounds for the Sprint and the race on Sunday.
Max had been second quickest in Q2 and that was a theme that continued as he missed out on top spot by just 0.075s, but he’s still well-placed for the Sprint, where points are on offer to the top three and the winner will be credited with pole position for the grand prix.
Sergio looked set to line-up directly behind his team-mate in fourth place after his final lap but then saw his best time deleted for exceeding track limits, dropping him to fifth.
We will get one more one-hour practice session on Saturday to make limited set-up tweaks before the first Sprint - a 17-lap race - in the afternoon.