Grand Prix of Bahrain – Qualifying


It feels like a long time since the end of the 2020 season, but maybe that’s because I was counting down to Melbourne before it was postponed. Well, it’s go, go, go in Bahrain!

Alonso wonders why interviewers keep asking about his age … meanwhile: 10% of the grid in Bahrain have fathers who raced Alonso in F1 🙂

Free Practice:

  1. FP1: VER (1:31.394), BOT, NOR, HAM, LEC, PER, GAS, SAI, RIC, GIO
  2. FP2: VER (1:30.847), NOR, HAM, SAI, BOT, RIC, TSU, STR, GAS, PER
    Having previously said they wouldn’t, the FIA have decided to enforce the track limits at Turn 4 throughout practice and qualifying but not the race!?
    MAZ runs wide and complains about the Haas’ balance
    Both Mercedes have their first lap times deleted for exceeding track limits; a few other drivers suffer the same fate, but they’ll all finding the line
    RAI loses the rear, hits the wall in Turn 3, wipes the front wing off his Alfa Romeo; he’s crawling back to the pits
    BOT complains that his car is “undrivable”; he’s P5
    Newbie TSU is P7 in the AlphaTauri, whereas some old-hands don’t fair so well with VET (P14), ALO (P15) and RAI (P16)
  3. FP3: VER (1:30.577), HAM, GAS, BOT, PER, SAI, RAI, OCO, STR, RIC
    Quiet start, with only TSU on track in the first 10mins
    BOT struggling to keep his Mercedes on track; runs wide in Turn 1, but it’s only T4 where they’ll be penalised… oh, and then he’s wide in T4 and his time is deleted
    LEC hits a kerb, loses the tail and spins his Ferrari; rejoins and reports “grip is incredibly low”
    NOR waves as he passes ex-teammate SAI – I wonder who will be doing that in the race
    MAZ runs very wide in T7
    Something flew off VET’s front left corner and across the cockpit; VET reports it hit him in the face!
    20mins left of FP3; BOT jumps from P20 to P1; almost immediately HAM takes P1 over 0.5sec faster than his teammate (both on softs)
    Radio for TSU saying they’re looking into why they’re slow in the straights; TSU replies with a long list of corners where he’s had problems
    After a very slow out lap VER goes P1, 0.7sec faster than HAM

With VER fastest in all three Free Practice sessions, the question is are Mercedes sandbagging or is the Red Bull really that much quicker?

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
Air temperature 30°C; track 36°C; wind 3km/hr; humidity 42%
The wind has picked up since FP3, and it was problematic for some drivers then
Green light; Quali is officially underway; RUS, SCH, MAZ and LAT were waiting at pit exit
RUS heads back to the pits
MAZ spins the Haas; recovers, so only a brief yellow flag
SCH 1:33.861
A gaggle of cars leaving the pits – get ready for the complaints about traffic
NOR 1:31.754
SAI 1:31.653
BOT 1:31.200
HAM 1:30.617
VER 1:30.499
(TSU P2!)
Radio from VER asking the team to check the floor of his car – something just flew off
5mins left; bottom 5 are OCO, LAT, RUS, MAZ, SCH
Most of the drivers on track for a final run, although HAM is on used tyres
Just VER, TSU and GAS remain in the pits
Chequered flag
RUS P7, GIO P16
MAZ spins but it’s sector 2
LAT P14, RAI P16
SCH P19
GIO P8, VET P16
OCO P15, LAT P16
STR P12, OCO P16
Radio from SAI, “Engine stopped – I don’t know why” but he got it going again and made it back to the pits
Back of the grid: OCO, LAT, VET, SCH, MAZ

Race control: Lap times set during yellow flags will be investigated after the session

Qualifying session 2
The (anticipated) front runners are starting Q2 on medium tyres – BOT, HAM, VER, PER, NOR, RIC
Radio for ALO telling him the track temp has dropped a couple of degrees
Radio check from VER admitting to unplugging his radio but confirmed it’s ok now
BOT 1:30.559
VER 1:30.318
HAM 1:30.085
(NOR P4)
Both Ferrari are on softs but are only P5 and P7
PER and RIC have their lap times deleted for exceeding track limits
5mins left; bottom 5 are GIO, RAI, RIC, PER, RUS (the last 3 haven’t set a time yet)
PER starts another run, on a new set of mediums
Pit lane empties for a final flying lap
RUS P13
PER P4
Chequered flag; LEC, TSU, RAI, RUS, RIC
LEC 1:30.010 on softs; ALO P16
SAI 1:30.009 (softs)
RIC P5; GIO P16
ALO P8
NOR P4
Middle of the grid: PER, GIO, TSU, RAI, RUS

Qualifying session 3
Top 10 shootout is between SAI, LEC, HAM, NOR, BOT, RIC, VER, GAS, ALO and STR
Everyone on soft tyres, of course
RIC 1:31.384
GAS 1:30.014
NOR P3
BOT P2
HAM 1:29.549
SAI P4
VER 1:29.526
STR, LEC and ALO are still in the pits
Order after 1st run: VER, HAM, GAS, BOT, SAI, RIC, NOR; STR, LEC, ALO
STR P6
Chequered flag
BOT P3
HAM 1:29.385
GAS P4
VER 1:28.997
LEC P4
SAI P6
NOR P6
RIC P6
ALO P9
Front of the grid: VER, HAM, BOT, LEC, GAS, RIC, NOR, SAI, ALO, STR

David Coulthard doing the interviews… on his 50th birthday
VER: “We had a great test week but there were no guarantees. The car has been working really well and is so enjoyable to drive”; “There are no guarantees – we need to keep pushing very hard”
HAM: “Gave it everything I had”; “We did a good job from testing to come here and be closer to the Red Bulls, to be that close is testament to the team.”
BOT: “This morning wasn’t easy, a lot of issues. In Q3 I only had one set of new tyres, and it was difficult to compete. It wasn’t too bad, not where we wanted to be but starting third, anything is still possible.”
…and then they shove a birthday cake in DC’s face! [video]

Provisional* grid: VER, HAM, BOT, LEC, GAS, RIC, NOR, SAI, ALO, STR; PER, GIO, TSU, RAI, RUS, OCO, LAT, VET, SCH, MAZ
*Remember: Q1 lap times set during yellow flags will be investigated after the session

[2021 calendar] [2021 line-up]