F1 2021
Round 1

Verstappen Takes POLE In Bahrain For Honda Power

bh Bahrain International Circuit

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.

Verstappen Takes POLE In Bahrain For Honda Power

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.

Toyoharu Tanabe
Toyoharu Tanabe
Honda Racing F1
The first qualifying session of the season produced a very positive result for us, with Max Verstappen taking pole for Red Bull Racing Honda and Pierre Gasly fifth for Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda. Sergio Perez and Yuki Tsunoda, like their respective team-mates, tried to make the cut to Q3 on the Medium tyre to be able to start the race with it, but in the end they had to settle for 11th and 13th respectively. Nevertheless Yuki had a strong pace, second fastest behind Max in Q1 and Sergio has also shown good speed, so we expect them to race well on Sunday. Both teams have been very competitive all weekend, so we will spend the next hours ensuring we are as well prepared as possible to convert this strong qualifying into a good race result for all four drivers.

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen 33
Red Bull Racing
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.

Pierre Gasly
Pierre Gasly 10
Scuderia AlphaTauri
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.

Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez 11
Red Bull Racing
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.

Yuki Tsunoda
Yuki Tsunoda 22
Scuderia AlphaTauri
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.

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