Max Verstappen continued his dominant start to the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship this evening after clinching pole position for the season-opening F1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit (BIC).
The Red Bull Racing ace topped all three Practice sessions over the weekend and now also set the pace in a thrilling Qualifying under the lights. He secured the leading grid position with a best lap time of one minute 28.997 seconds as the chequered flag came down on Q3.
Verstappen clinched his fourth career pole with the result. He beat defending F1 drivers’ World Champion Lewis Hamilton by just 0.388 seconds, while Valtteri Bottas followed in third, qualifying 0.589s behind, to put the two Mercedes cars in the top three.
Verstappen commented after Qualifying: “The car has been working really well and it has been enjoyable to drive. It all worked out perfectly in qualifying and of course I am very happy with pole position.”
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was classified fourth at the end of Q3 0.681s off Verstappen’s pace, while Pierre Gasly had a strong session for AlphaTauri, finishing 0.812s back.
The McLaren tandem of Daniel Ricciardo (+0.930s) and Lando Norris (+0.977s) followed, while Carlos Sainz (+1.218s) in the other Ferrari was eighth.
Returning two-time F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso qualified ninth for Alpine, and Lance Stroll (+1.604s) completed the top 10 for tomorrow’s start grid for Aston Martin.
It wasn’t all cheers for Red Bull, as Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez could only manage 11th on the grid.
Set to start from 12th to 20th, respectively, are Antonio Giovinazzi of Alfa Romeo, Yuki Tsunoda of AlphaTauri, Kimi Raikkonen in the other Alfa Romeo, George Russell for Williams, Esteban Ocon of Alpine, Nicholas Latifi in the second Williams, Sebastian Vettel in the other Aston Martin, and the Haas tandem of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.
In a stunning Q2, Ferrari were in the top two places, led by Sainz. Making surprising exits from the session were Perez and Tsunoda, who finished Q1 in second place, along with Giovinazzi, Raikkonen and Russell.
Ocon, Latifi, Vettel, Schumacher and Mazepin were earlier out in Q3.