The 2021 season got off to the ideal start for Max as he put Red Bull Racing on pole position in Bahrain after a thrilling qualifying session, marking the first time a Honda has taken pole at the opening race since Ayrton Senna in Phoenix in 1991.
Pierre will start from P5 as Scuderia AlphaTauri also enjoyed a strong start to the season, with one Honda-powered car from each team making it into the top ten shootout.
After spotting something in the data, we changed the Energy Store and Control Electronics on Pierre’s car ahead of the qualifying session, but after a quick job by the team it had no impact on the performance in Q1 as all four cars ended up in the top five. Max was quickest ahead of an impressive opening from Yuki, with Pierre fourth and Sergio fifth.
The second part of qualifying was a tense session and after a promising start a highly competitive finish saw two cars drop out. Both teams ran on the medium compound tyre throughout the session to try and start tomorrow’s race on that compound, but after Sergio had his first lap time deleted for exceeding track limits he ended up pipped by just 0.035s to a place in Q3 and will start from 11th.
Yuki was also unable to put together his final lap - ending up 0.6s slower than his Q1 time - and will start from 13th, but both will have a free choice of tyre compounds for tomorrow’s race. It was a brave move running a rookie driver on the Medium tyre in Q2, but although it did not pay off this time, it shows the level of confidence between team and driver is already high.
Q3 started with a brilliant fight as Max pipped Lewis Hamilton by 0.023s on the first runs, with Pierre behind them in third place. The final runs saw Max at his absolute best, hooking up his best lap by going fastest in all three sectors and taking the fourth pole position of his career by nearly 0.4s.
Pierre’s final lap was also a strong one but he was pushed back a row by a Mercedes and a Ferrari, ending up fifth for tomorrow’s season-opening race.