Sergio Perez made it an all-Red Bull second row but was never really in the fight. “It was very messy in terms of rhythm and grip and I never really felt on top of the car to be honest,” admitted the Mexican.
Feeling very much the same way was Charles Leclerc, who after lining up fourth in the season’s first two GPs, starts eighth for Ferrari, three slots behind new team-mate Carlos Sainz, who outqualified him for the first time. As at Imola, Ferrari looked sixth to seven tenths shy of the ultimate pace but Sainz was happy with his personal progress.
“I’ve taken a bit of a different approach to braking and corner entry and I think it has paid dividends,” said Carlos, who was just 0.04sec shy of Perez’s second-row time.
And, with something of a quantum leap by Alpine, Esteban Ocon joins the Spaniard on row three, just three thousandths behind the Ferrari. In fact, the Frenchman was another who went quicker in Q2, with a time that would have put him on row two.
When Alpine was ‘best of the rest’ behind Mercedes and Red Bull on Friday, many assumed they were running 25 kilos lighter, but the A521’s pace on the gripless surface was genuine and carried forward to Saturday.
Fernando Alonso had looked right there on the opening day but seemed to go backwards on Saturday and, out in Q2, was bested by his team-mate for the second successive race and left contemplating Sunday afternoon from 13th on the grid.
It was the same story for another high-profile 2021 team-changer: Daniel Ricciardo. In the ballpark on Friday, more comfortable in the car and taking it to Lando Norris, who has impressed so much in the opening races, the Aussie was a figure of total dejection when he went out in Q1! As the track ramped up considerably for the second runs, Daniel locked up, ran wide in T13/14, and that was that…