Max Verstappen claimed the first pole position of the new Formula 1 season. Here are the facts and statistics from qualifying at the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix!
VERSTAPPEN ON POLE
Max Verstappen took pole position for the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix, recording the fourth pole position of his Formula 1 career. It was his first pole at Bahrain International Circuit, making him the eleventh driver to take pole at the venue.
This is the first time that Red Bull have taken pole position at the season-opening race since Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time in qualifying for the 2013 Australian Grand Prix. It’s Red Bull’s first pole position in Bahrain since Vettel was on pole for the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix.
Verstappen took pole position by 0.388 seconds; the fourth largest pole margin at Bahrain International Circuit – and the largest since 2015. It’s the second time that the pole margin has been 0.388 seconds at a Grand Prix. Riccardo Patrese took pole position by the same margin at the 1991 Canadian Grand Prix.
This is the first time in his career that Verstappen has taken consecutive pole positions. It’s also the first time Red Bull have taken pole at successive events since Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber shared eight poles in a row at the final eight races of the 2013 season, and the first time that Honda-powered cars have taken poles at successive races since McLaren were on pole at the final three races of the 1991 season.
The omens are good for Verstappen: the polesitter at the first race of the season has gone on to win the World Championship in all but three of the last fourteen seasons. The bad news is that on the two previous occasions that Bahrain has hosted the season-opening race, the polesitter has not gone on to win.
The 2018 Monaco Grand Prix – when Daniel Ricciardo was on pole and Max Verstappen failed to set a lap time – was the last time that the polesitter’s team-mate did not reach Q3.
MERCEDES NOT ON POLE
For the first time since 2013, and the first time in the V6 hybrid era, Mercedes will not start the first race of the season from pole position.
Though he missed out on pole position, Lewis Hamilton starts the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix from second place and extends the record for most front row starts in Bahrain to eight.
Qualifying in third place, Valtteri Bottas became the first driver to make 80 consecutive Q3 appearances. He has reached Q3 on every appearance so far with Mercedes.
The 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix is only the fifteenth race weekend in the V6 hybrid era in which Mercedes have not been fastest in any of the three qualifying sessions. It’s also only the ninth race of the era in which Mercedes have not been quickest in any of the practice or qualifying sessions.
THE TOP TEN
Charles Leclerc qualified in fourth place for the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix. It’s the fourth time in the last eight races that Leclerc has qualified in fourth place.
Carlos Sainz was fastest in Q2, pipping team-mate Charles Leclerc to the fastest time by just one thousandth of a second. It was the first time Ferrari had been fastest in a qualifying session since Leclerc topped the timesheet in Q2 at the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Sainz went on to qualify in eighth place – the lowest qualifying position for the driver who was fastest in Q2 since Kimi Raikkonen at the 2013 Belgian Grand Prix. Raikkonen also qualified eighth for that race having set the fastest time in Q2.
This was Ferrari’s first double Q3 appearance since the 2020 British Grand Prix.
Pierre Gasly qualified an impressive fifth, which is his best qualifying result to date in Bahrain.
On his eleventh appearance in Bahrain, and on his first F1 appearance with McLaren, Daniel Ricciardo maintained his record of never being out-qualified by his team-mate at the circuit. On the other hand, Lando Norris is yet to out-qualify a team-mate on pace alone in Bahrain.
Norris recorded his best qualifying position in Bahrain to date with seventh place, beating his previous best of ninth from the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix.
Fernando Alonso reached Q3 for the first time since the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix. It’s his 27th consecutive appearance on which he has out-qualified his team-mate.
Lance Stroll reached Q3 at Bahrain International Circuit for a second time. He has qualified in tenth place both times he has reached Q3 at the track. This was the first time that Stroll has out-qualified his team-mate at the track.
OUT IN Q2
On his first appearance with Red Bull, Sergio Perez failed to reach the final part of qualifying. His failure to do so made him the first driver to have recorded five Q2 exits at Bahrain International Circuit.
Both Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen progressed to Q2. It’s only the second time in the last 19 races that neither Alfa Romeo driver has been eliminated in Q1, the other time being at the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix.
Antonio Giovinazzi recorded his best Bahrain qualifying result with twelfth place, bettering his previous best of fourteenth at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix.
OUT IN Q1
While his team-mate reached Q3, Esteban Ocon qualified only sixteenth. It was his first Q1 elimination since the 2018 Hungarian Grand Prix. It was Team Enstone’s first Q1 exit since Daniel Ricciardo qualified sixteenth at the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix.
Sebastian Vettel suffered disappointment on his first outing with Aston Martin. It’s the first time that Vettel has been eliminated in Q1 in Bahrain since driving for Toro Rosso in 2008. It’s his worst qualifying result since failing to set a time in qualifying at the 2019 German Grand Prix. Vettel last qualified in eighteenth place at the 2008 Monaco Grand Prix.
Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin set the two slowest times in qualifying. It’s the first time that Haas have locked out the last row of the grid at a Formula 1 race.
After graduating in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky Haldenby, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. 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 Motorsport Guides and can be heard as the resident stats man on the 2 Soft Compounds Podcast. His work has appeared on WTF1, BadgerGP, motorsport.com, Sky Sports F1 and BBC Radio 5 Live. Nicky is also the host of the F1 Rewind Podcast.