F1 – Bahrain GP – Qualifying
The Sakhir International Circuit hosts round two of the 2019 FIA F1 World Championship this weekend. Did you know that Sakhir also plays home to the Al Areen Wildlife Park; the only nature reserve and zoo in Bahrain.
There are a lot of rumours going around in the paddock about why Ferrari were 0.704 seconds off the pace in Australia, and no-one really seems to know for sure, however judging by the practice sessions – they’re completely back on it in Bahrain.
Predictably, the two Williams drivers were 19th & 20th in Q1, with George Russell just edging out Robert Kubica by 0.040 seconds. Racing Point have struggled during practice, so it was no surprise to see Lance Stroll drop out in 18th – and the same can be said of Antonio Giovinazzi in 16th. The major shock of the session was seeing Nico Hulkenberg in 17th. The German hadn’t been outside the top eight all weekend, so he’ll be bitterly disappointed.
The Red Bull group will be upset by Q2 with three of their drivers dropping out. Both Toro Rosso drivers were joined by Pierre Gasly in the elimination zone. Interestingly, rookie Alexander Albon out-qualified Pierre Gasly by 0.013 seconds – a solid effort by the Thai driver. The remaining Racing Point of Sergio Perez was also knocked out in Q2 along with Daniel Ricciardo for Renault who just missed out on Q3 by 0.017 seconds. Haas and McLaren will be delighted to get both cars into Q3. Haas haven’t failed to get a car into Q3 so far this season – along with Ferrari and Mercedes of course.
Q3 effectively had three separate divisions today. Romain Grosjean (8th), Kimi Raikkonen (9th) and Lando Norris (10th) were all separated by 0.028 seconds. Carlos Sainz (7th) was 0.202 seconds quicker than Grosjean, but only 0.061 seconds slower than Max Verstappen (5th). Kevin Magnussen’s Haas slotted into 6th.
Meanwhile at the front, all eyes were on Ferrari, and it was very much a case of how much of a gap they would have to Mercedes rather than if they would get pole or not. As it turned out, the gap between the lead Ferrari and lead Mercedes was not the most surprising aspect of qualifying. What was more interesting was the gap between the two Ferrari drivers; 0.294 seconds, in favour of Charles Leclerc! The Monegasque driver took his first pole position in Formula One with an utterly dominant display. Of course Sebastian Vettel was 2nd, although only 0.030 seconds clear of Lewis Hamilton. Valtteri Bottas was 4th, 0.066 seconds further back.
With Charles Leclerc only being 21 years old, and already being so strong, you really have to wonder just how many times we’ll see him get pole position during his career. He does have a lot of scope for development; but with so much talent, if he is able to stay in a top car – the next 15 seasons of F1 have the potentially to be “boring” and incredible in equal measure.
There are such small margins up and down the grid this weekend. What do you think will happen? Do you think Charles Leclerc will take his first victory tomorrow? Or can Sebastian Vettel take the win to enforce his authority as Ferrari’s #1? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.