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F1 Bahrain GP Live Commentary and Updates - FP3 and Qualifying

Live commentary and updates from the Bahrain Grand Prix's Saturday's FP3 and qualifying sessions

F1 Bahrain GP Live Commentary and Updates - FP3 and Qualifying

By: James Newbold, Megan White, Haydn Cobb

Summary

  • Max Verstappen has qualified on pole for the Bahrain GP
  • Hamilton and Bottas came second and third respectively for Mercedes
  • The race starts at 16:00 BST on Sunday  
Leaderboard
1. Verstappen, Red Bull
2. Hamilton, Mercedes
3. Bottas, Mercedes
4. Leclerc, Ferrari
5. Gasly, AlphaTauri
6. Ricciardo, McLaren
7. Norris, McLaren
8. Sainz, Ferrari
9. Alonso, Alpine
10. Stroll, Aston Martin
Status: Stopped

The Bahrain GP starts tomorrow at 6pm local time (4pm UK time) - watch out for both the slightly earlier start time and the clocks changing tonight. We'll have you covered though, so be sure to check back in tomorrow for all the pre-race news and build-up before the big one. Until then, go well!

Strong showings also by Leclerc for Ferrari and Gasly for AlphaTauri, while there is plenty to contemplate for Vettel at Aston Martin. But, remember, this is just qualifying. The real fun begins tomorrow with the opening race of the 2021 F1 season.

So, that was fun. All the chat and favourite tagging pre-weekend has resulted in Verstappen taking pole position for Red Bull, but he has two Mercedes to fight on his own, with his new team-mate Perez starting outside of the top 10.

Here's the full report on qualifying for the Bahrain GP: https://www.autosport.com/f1/news/bahrain-gp-qualifying-shell/5938984/

 

Top 3 interviewer David Coulthard, who turns 50 today, is presented with a birthday cake by Verstappen but the pole-sitter slams the cake into Coulthard's face. Poor David - but who doesn't love a bit of slapstick cake-related humour.

Bottas on his P3: "Practice today wasn't easy, the balance was a bit better [in qualifying]. In Q3 I only had one set of tyres so it was tricky to compete with Lewis and Max."

Hamilton on his second place in qualifying: "Congratulations to Max. I gave it everything I had but it wasn't enough. I got everything I could from the car. We did a good job coming back from testing and to improve like this."

Verstappen on his pole position: "It all worked out perfectly in qualifying and I'm delighted with pole position. Basically my first lap in Q3 wasn't amazing so I knew there was more in it. But I wasn't sure how much. Luckily, when it mattered, we could perform."

Verstappen takes a sip of water and acts like it is nothing new. All casual. Bet he's buzzing inside.

Leclerc slots into fourth for Ferrari beating Gasly by two-tenths, followed by the McLaren pair as Ricciardo beats team-mate Norris. Sainz will start from P8, with Alonso P9 and Stroll P10.

Verstappen takes pole position for the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix! Hamilton is second with Bottas in third.

...Bottas puts in a 1m29.586s to go third. Hamilton also improves with a 1m 29.385s to take provisional pole, but it doesn't last as Verstappen does it again! A 1m28.997s means pole position for the Red Bull driver!

Chequered flag is out for the end of Q3. Verstappen is quickest of all through sector 1...

Bottas duly stays at the front of the train ahead of team-mate Hamilton at the start of the final timed laps. All or nothing now.

Just before Stroll completed that lap, the other nine drivers in Q3 came out together. Everyone is battling for the ideal slot in the train, which is led by Bottas.

Stroll, on what should be his sole Q3 run, is on the track on his own. The Aston Martin driver puts in a 1m30.601s to go P6.

Advantage Verstappen, but it all hangs on the second and final runs that are coming up. Gasly remains third ahead of Bottas with Sainz in fifth.

Here come the big guns, Bottas cannot beat Gasly's time but Hamilton can with a 1m29.549s to take provisional pole. But not for long as here comes Verstappen with a 1m29.526s! Verstappen on pole as it stands.

Ricciardo posts the first time of 1m31.384s but is quickly beaten by Gasly's 1m30.014s. Strong lap by the AlphaTauri driver.

Sainz, Hamilton, Norris, Bottas, Ricciardo, Verstappen and Gasly all out on the track early targeting two runs in this session. Leclerc, Alonso and Stroll remain in the garage for now.

Time to find out who will secure the first F1 pole position of 2021. Q3 is go.

Moments away from Q3, here are the 10 contenders: Sainz, Leclerc, Hamilton, Norris, Bottas, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Gasly, Alonso and Stroll.

This newbie Fernando Alonso looks pretty good, doesn't he? The Alpine driver sneaks into Q3 in ninth place, with Stroll taking the final spot in 10th.

Perez is joined out in Q2 by Giovinazzi, Tsunoda, Raikkonen and Russell.

Perez's effort on the mediums has not worked. He has been shuffled back to P11 as plenty of improvements from others arrive, some using the soft tyres. He's out in Q2.

Final lap time for Q2. What a pair of laps from the Ferrari drivers! Sainz goes top with a 1m30.009s, 0.001s faster than team-mate Leclerc. Blimey, but they were both on the softs.

Perez duly puts in a 1m30.659s on those mediums to go P4 as things stand...

Perez sticks to his guns by going out on the mediums again for Red Bull. He'll need, at the very least, a 1m32.047s to move ahead of Stroll and into the top 10.

Russell, last of the drivers to head out on the track in Q2, sets a 1m33.430s on the softs to go P13.

TV replays of those Turn 4 moments for Perez and Ricciardo are pretty conclusive. Both went very wide so no arguments there. They may need to switch to the softs to fight for a Q3 place.

Perez and Ricciardo have lost their opening Q2 lap times for both exceeding track limits at Turn 4. That'll put the pressure on them over the closing minutes of this session.

Hamilton tops the early efforts in the second session with a 1m30.085s, pushing Verstappen to second place who set a 1m30.318s. Interesting.

The AlphaTauris have joined the fun now. Plenty of medium tyres on show for the start of Q2: on the Mercs, Red Bulls, McLaren and AlphaTauris. Everyone else on softs.

Q2 is underway with 12 drivers heading out on the track. Only Tsunoda, Gasly and Russell staying put in the garages for now.

Sainz was the driver on the bubble at the end of Q1 in P15, but it could have been so much worse, as his Ferrari cut out towards the end of the session. The Spaniard managed to get back to the pits in his car, so the pressure is on for Ferrari to revive his ill car during Q2.

Possible yellow flag investigations aside for now, here are the drivers out in Q1: P16 Ocon, P17 Latifi, P18 Vettel, P19 Schumacher and P20 Mazepin.

Ocon is also out in Q1, having been caught out by those yellow flags when he started his lap. Race control has announced that all lap times set during yellow flags will be investigated after qualifying, so there could be some shake ups to follow.

Disaster for Vettel on his Aston Martin debut, his 1m32.067s means he doesn't improve on his personal best and he drops out of qualifying in P18.