Verstappen vanquishes field to take pole for 2021 Bahrain GP


Max Verstappen takes pole ahead of Lewis Hamilton as both Sebastian Vettel and Sergio Perez suffered shock early exits

Max Verstappen celebrates clinching pole position for the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix

Verstappen starts from pole on Sunday

Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Max Verstappen showed stunning pace in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix, putting his Red Bull on pole ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

The Dutchman was four-tenths of a second quicker than the defending World Champion, showing that Red Bull has not lost the advantage that it had in testing.

Sebastian Vettel lost out to a yellow flag and found himself eliminated in Q1, whilst a medium tyre choice for Sergio Perez meant he didn’t have the pace to make it into the final qualifying round.

Fernando Alonso weathered a difficult Bahrain weekend so far for his Alpine team by taking ninth.


Sebastian Vettel was the shock scalp of Q1, falling foul of Nikita Mazepin‘s spinning Haas, which brought out yellow flags and prevented the Aston Martin driver from setting a time that could see him safely through to the next round. He starts 18th.

Alpine‘s Esteban Ocon also found himself stranded in the first round, having to settle for 16th on the grid.

Nicolas Latifi put in a solid lap in his Williams, but it wasn’t enough to get the Canadian out of Q1 as he starts 17th.

Haas struggled as widely expected, making up the Q1 cannon-fodder with Mazepin qualifying last and his team-mate Mick Schumacher setting 19th-fastest time.

Sebastian Vettel in qualifying for the 2021 Bahrain Grand prix

Vettel started his Aston Martin career being knocked out in Q1

Dan Istitene/F1 via Getty Images


There was another shock in Q2 as new Red Bull driver Sergio Perez was knocked out after only setting 11th fastest time. The Mexican first had a lap deleted for exceeding tracks limits and then gambled by using medium tyres on his second run – it didn’t pay off.

Alfa Romeo continued its show of improved pace as Antonio Giovinazzi put the car 12th.

Yuki Tsunoda’s thrilling all-or-nothing style didn’t pay off on his F1 qualifying debut, a scrappy lap from the Japanese driver leaving his AlphaTauri starting 13th.

Kimi Räikkonen qualified 14th fastest, whilst Mr Saturday himself, George Russell, performed the usual heroics to get his Williams into Q2 but could manage no better than 15th once he got there.

Valtteri Bottas in qualifying for the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix

Bottas was six-tenths of a second slower than Verstappen; 0.2sec behind Hamilton

Frederic Le Floc'h/DPPI


Verstappen has never started on the front row at Sakhir, but that all changed in qualifying as he set a stunning laptime of 1min 28.997sec.

The Dutchman had earlier damaged his floor with an off, but this wasn’t enough to cede advantage to the Hamilton, who was 0.388sec behind in 2nd.

Valtteri Bottas has complained over the weekend about the W12 being “undrivable”, and but he got more of a grip in qualifying to put the other Mercedes third on the grid.

Related article

There were heroics from Charles Leclerc, who looked to start making amends for terrible 2020 for Ferrari with a fine 4th fastest time.

Pierre Gasly continued to show what Red Bull might be missing by qualifying fifth, mightily impressive in the Alpha Tauri.

Daniel Ricciardo has never been out-qualified by a team-mate at Sakhir, and so it remains as the Australian qualified sixth ahead of his McLaren team-mate Lando Norris.

Carlos Sainz came in eighth, whilst Fernando Alonso showed no motor racing rustiness as the Spaniard manhandled his Alpine into the final qualifying round and ninth position.

Lance Stroll spared some of Aston Martin’s blushes with 10th on the grid for tomorrow.


2021 Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying results

Position Driver Team Time (Q3)
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1min 28.997sec
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1min 29.385sec
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1min 29.586sec
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1min 29.678sec
5 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1min 29.809sec
6 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1min 29.927sec
7 Lando Norris McLaren 1min 29.974sec
8 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1min 30.215sec
9 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1min 30.249sec
10 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1min 30.601sec
Q2 times
11 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1min 30.659sec
12 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1min 30.708sec
13 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1min 31.203sec
14 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo 1min 31.238sec
15 George Russell Williams 1min 33.430sec
Q1 times
16 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1min 31.724sec
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1min 31.936sec
18 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1min 32.056sec
19 Mick Schumacher Haas 1min 32.449sec
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas 1min 33.273sec