Bahrain Qualifying Analyzed: Aston Martin surprises, Red Bull tops charts
The perfect time to watch the actual performance of the Formula 1 teams arrived on Saturday with the Qualifying session for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Speculations are over, practice comparisons are a thing of the recent past. It was all or nothing around Bahrain, where teams flexed their muscles in search of tomorrow's race's highest possible starting position.
First things first
Max Verstappen claimed the Pole position for tomorrow's Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver achieved a laptime of 1:29.708s with the Soft tire, 0.138s faster than second-placed Sergio Perez, who achieved a 1:29.846s laptime around the circuit.
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc completed the top 3 for tomorrow's grid with an exact laptime of 1:30.000s, ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz in P4 0.154s.
Most talked about: Aston Martin (AMR)
They surprised many people during pre-season testing and the practice sessions leading to today's qualifying. However, did the hype live or it tragically faded away?
Let's analyze: both Aston Martin cars (driven by Lance Stroll, who also raced for the team last year, and Fernando Alonso coming from Alpine) reached Q3. Alonso did so in a comfortable position, while Stroll barely made it, however, it's important to note that the Canadian is still suffering from his accident.
If you look at last year, though, you will see that AMR was entirely knocked out in Q1, with Stroll in P19 and Hulkenberg (jumping in for Vettel due to Coronavirus) P17. Let's compare Stroll's fastest times from 2022 and 2023 with the same compound.
|Driver||Time 2022||Time 2023|
As you can see, that's a 3.804s difference from last year. The Canadian qualified P8 for tomorrow's Grand Prix. Alonso is even higher, in P5, behind Carlos Sainz and ahead of both Mercedes cars. Certainly a very different scenario from 2022, and we very much look forward to seeing how the race will turn out tomorrow.
Rough start for Gasly with Alpine
Pierre Gasly had qualified P10 with AlphaTauri for the 2022 Bahrain GP. Things are different this Saturday, though. The French driver will start tomorrow's race from P20. His best effort with the Alpine was P18 but the laptime was deleted due to track limits.
This is certainly not the start Gasly was hoping for with his new team. An outfit change can surely be a breath of fresh air, but in Formula 1, the only thing that matters is that you're faster than your rivals.
|Driver||Fastest Time Q2022 (AlphaTauri)||Fastest Time Q2023 (Alpine)|
Things were very different for teammate Esteban Ocon, who will start tomorrow from P9, achieving a qualifying laptime of 1:30.984s.
The rest of the field
Newcomers Oscar Piastri and Nyck de Vries qualified P18 and P19 respectively. No surprise there as they adapt to Formula 1, though McLaren is being cautious following a worrisome pre-season test for them. However, Lando Norris made it to Q2 and will start tomorrow's race from the 11th place, ahead of the Alfa Romeo duo of Valtteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou.
Logan Sargeant, also a rookie for Williams, was knocked out in Q1 after classifying P16, just behind teammate Alexander Albon who achieved P15 in Q2.
Haas's Kevin Magnussen qualified P17, knocked out in Q1 compared to new teammate Nico Hulkenberg who made it all the way to Q3, starting tomorrow in the 10th spot of the grid.
Finally, the Mercedes duo of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton starts tomorrow 6th and 7th.