Max Verstappen claims first pole position of the season

Max Verstappen during qualifying ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Red Bull Racing driver and one of the favorites to come away with his maiden Formula One title this season Max Verstappen claimed his second consecutive pole position at the Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir.

The Dutch driver has been enjoying a good preseason and a good weekend at the start of the 2021 Championship in the Persian Gulf. He achieved his second straight pole position dating back to last season’s final race, and it is the fourth of his career. The 23-year-old outqualified seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes by 0.388 seconds and beat Valtteri Bottas by 0.589 seconds. It will be this well-known trio at the helm of the grid to start the first race of the year tomorrow.

After an atrocious season last year, Ferrari finally looked competitive in qualifying. Charles Leclerc was less than a second behind the leader and will start the race in fourth position, while his new teammate Carlos Sainz will start drive the car from eighth position on the lineup.

The two drivers of the Red Bull Racing sister team AlphaTauri – Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda – had a terrific outing. Tsunoda, the first driver to start a Grand Prix born in the 21st century, was even second after the first qualifying session. Gasly will begin the race in fifth place and his Japanese teammate will start from thirteenth.

Notably, Daniel Ricciardo outqualified his teammate Lando Norris in his first race in the orange McLaren – starting the race sixth and seventh, respectively – and two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso made his return by successfully advancing all the way to the third qualifying session after failing to do so in his last season in the series. He will start ninth.

Additionally, Sergio Perez and Sebastian Vettel had unfortunate qualifying performances in their debuts with new teams. Perez had a lap time deleted for driving past track limits in the second session and then was unable to take his second run into the top ten; Vettel was in the unlucky part of the track when yellow flags came out in his final run after Nikita Mazepin spun in sector one.

Grid for the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix

  1. Max VERSTAPPEN (RED BULL RACING) – 1:28.997 (Q3 time)
  2. Lewis HAMILTON (MERCEDES)
  3. Valtteri BOTTAS (MERCEDES)
  4. Charles LECLERC (FERARRI)
  5. Pierre GASLY (ALPHATAURI)
  6. Daniel RICCIARDO (MCLAREN)
  7. Lando NORRIS (MCLAREN)
  8. Carlos SAINZ (FERARRI)
  9. Fernando ALONSO (ALPINE)
  10. Lance STROLL (ASTON MARTIN)
  11. Sergio PEREZ (RED BULL RACING)
  12. Antonio GIOVINAZZI (ALFA ROMEO)
  13. Yuki TSUNODA (ALPHATAURI)
  14. Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN (ALFA ROMEO)
  15. George RUSSELL (WILLIAMS)
  16. Esteban OCON (ALPINE)
  17. Nicholas LATIFI (WILLIAMS)
  18. Mick SCHUMACHER (HASS)
  19. Nikita MAZEPIN (HAAS)
  20. Sebastian VETTEL (ASTON MARTIN) – qualified 18th but received five-place grid penalty for failing to respect double yellow flags

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