Charles Leclerc became Formula 1’s second-youngest polesitter as he set the fastest time in qualifying for the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix. We take a look at all the stats and stories from Saturday!
Q U A L I F Y I N G R E C A P
- Leclerc becomes the 99th driver to take pole after topping all three qualifying sessions
- Vettel investigated for driving unnecessarily slowly on an in-lap, but no penalty given
- After good Renault practice pace, Hulkenberg eliminated in Q1, Ricciardo qualifies 11th
- Gasly fails to reach Q3 with Red Bull for a second race in a row
- Grosjean demoted three grid positions for impeding Norris in Q3
The Ultimate Pace
Ferrari have dominated the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend, setting the fastest time in all three practice sessions and all three qualifying sessions. It’s the first time they’ve done so at any race in the hybrid era. Polesitter Charles Leclerc was fastest in both the first and final sectors, but it was Valtteri Bottas who was faster in the middle sector – though only by one thousandth of a second from Leclerc! Ferrari were almost two tenths faster than Mercedes in the first sector. Unsurprisingly Ferrari and Mercedes’ four drivers were the four fastest drivers in all three sectors. Behind them, a different team was third fastest in each of the sectors – Carlos Sainz was fifth fastest for McLaren in Sector 1, Max Verstappen was fifth fastest for Red Bull in Sector 2 and Kevin Magnussen was fifth fastest for Haas in Sector 3.
By adding each drivers’ best three sector times together, we can get an idea of who put a lap together when it mattered, and who failed to pull all three sectors into one fast lap. Max Verstappen, Romain Grosjean, Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris, Antonio Giovinazzi and George Russell were the six drivers who achieved their maximum potential on their fastest qualifying laps, while Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton were just 0.002 seconds and 0.003 seconds off their ultimate potential on their best respective laps. For a second race in a row, Robert Kubica was the furthest away from achieving his ultimate potential on his fastest lap – his lap time being 0.180 seconds slower than his three best sector times combined. No driver would have gained more than one position on the grid had they achieved their potential on their fastest lap – Kevin Magnussen and Kimi Raikkonen are among those whose ultimate pace would have seen them move up the order. The lap times are compared in the table below:
|Pos||Driver||Qualifying Time||Ultimate Pace||Difference||Ultimate Pace Position|
The team-mate battles
For a second race in a row, both Daniil Kvyat and Robert Kubica were beaten by their rookie team-mates in qualifying, while the closest battle was between Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi in Q1. While the Finn ultimately progressed to Q3, Giovinazzi was eliminated in Q1, highlighting just how close qualifying is this year.
Largest gaps in each session:
Q1: Alex Albon 0.362s faster than Daniil Kvyat
Q2: Max Verstappen 0.417s faster than Pierre Gasly
Q3: Charles Leclerc 0.294s faster than Sebastian Vettel
Gap between team-mates in last session where each driver set a time:
Looking at each driver’s ultimate pace also offers an interesting glimpse into who was fastest in each sector in each team. The results can be found in the table below. Valtteri Bottas was quicker than Lewis Hamilton in both sectors two and three, but Hamilton pulled out enough of an advantage over the Finn in the first sector to out-pace him by 0.005 seconds overall – the smallest gap from team-mates in the session. Robert Kubica was almost two tenths faster than George Russell in the middle sector, which would have been enough to see the Pole qualify ahead of his rookie team-mate, had he put the lap together when it mattered. The largest gap between team-mates on ultimate pace was 1.053 seconds, between Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi at Alfa Romeo. In Q1 however, Raikkonen beat Giovinazzi by only 0.067 seconds.
Find all the team-mate battle statistics for the 2019 season here!
As expected, Ferrari and Mercedes were the two fastest teams in each of the three sectors. As already noted, Charles Leclerc’s best time was only one thousandth off the best possible time from the day. Red Bull were only fifth fastest in the first sector and were fourth fastest overall in terms of ultimate pace. Haas were today’s third fastest team overall, beating Red Bull in the ultimate pace rankings by 0.049 seconds. McLaren were fifth fastest overall – their best ranking in the ultimate pace order since last year’s Spanish Grand Prix. Here’s each team’s gap to the ultimate pace, and to the actual pole lap:
|GAP TO POLE|
About the above table: the ‘gap to ultimate pace’ column shows the gap between the team’s best three sector times added together and the overall best three sector times added together. The ‘gap to pole time’ column shows the gap between the team’s best three sector times added together and the lap time of the polesitter.
Improvements between 2018 and 2019
In terms of ultimate pace, Alfa Romeo were the best improved team between 2018 and 2019 in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix, gaining 1.758 seconds on their best potential 2018 lap time. They were one of six teams to improve their pace in Sakhir between 2018 and 2019, while Red Bull were half a second slower than they were at the track last year. You can see the full data below:
All set for Sunday:
Will Charles Leclerc be able to convert his first pole position into a maiden win? The Bahrain Grand Prix has been won from pole only six times from the fourteen races here. Could Mercedes challenge Ferrari for the win? Mercedes have finished on the podium with both cars in every season since 2014 in Bahrain. Who will win the midfield battle? There are plenty of stories to look forward to on Sunday in Bahrain.
In the Lucky and Unlucky Grid Positions:
LUCKY: 5th: Max Verstappen 6th: Kevin Magnussen 7th: Carlos Sainz 10th: Daniel Ricciardo 11th: Romain Grosjean
5th: Max Verstappen
6th: Kevin Magnussen
7th: Carlos Sainz
10th: Daniel Ricciardo
11th: Romain Grosjean
UNLUCKY: 15th: Daniil Kvyat 16th: Antonio Giovinazzi 18th: Lance Stroll 19th: George Russell 20th: Robert Kubica
15th: Daniil Kvyat
16th: Antonio Giovinazzi
18th: Lance Stroll
19th: George Russell
20th: Robert Kubica
Find out what makes each grid position lucky or unlucky here!
Nicky Haldenby is a freelance writer from Scarborough, England. After graduating from the University of Hull in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. Now in its fourth season, the blog has become a firm fan-favourite, delving deep into the sport’s history books and lifting the cover on unusual F1 statistics. Nicky also writes at F1Destinations, and sister site GPDestinations, where he shares regular race previews and articles focussed around the latest in Formula 1 calendar and venue news. In 2017 and 2018, he wrote for Badger GP. Nicky can also be heard regularly as a guest on various Formula 1 radio shows and podcasts.