It was an all red front row as the Ferrari duo locked out their places, further back it was mixed results for the other teams ahead of tomorrow’s Bahrain GP…
At the end of a tense qualifying session, Seb Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen flashed through the finish line of the Bahrain International Circuit to take first and second spot on tomorrow’s starting grid. It is the 214th pole position for Scuderia Ferrari and the 59th front row lock-out since 1950, while Sebastian claimed his sixth pole for the Cavallino squad and 51st overall. On a track that calls for power, traction and tire management, the two SF71Hs proved their worth and the whole team gave their best.
“I think we have a good base and the car is working”, Seb commented. “We have improved in our work on the car. In the beginning it’s always a bit difficult, but now everything is getting better. So, it was nice to keep the car alive. I felt quite good from the start and made some progress during the session. I am very happy with the last laps I did, and also obviously with the result I got. I was really glad to see how the car was responding today. We worked on the setup and tried different things. In Australia the track is tricky and bumpy, so it was difficult to change too much and draw any conclusions. But after the race and with the mileage we did, I think we understood the car better. It’s nice to see that we have built a very strong car and that today we are able to put it on the front row, beating everybody else. It’s been a great result that the whole team deserves. However, the ‘big day’ is tomorrow”.
Kimi’s last qualifying attempt was slightly hampered by traffic, but nonetheless was good enough for second: “My last run was far from perfect; there was traffic and we couldn’t improve. We did not give ourselves a proper chance to do the best we could. The car had a lot of speed, but we did not take full advantage of that. I’m sure there was a lot more to come. Anyway, we start the race in a good position, so I’m a bit disappointed today but that’s how it goes.. Tomorrow is another day and we should have a good car; we hope for a better result. The key point will be tire management; it will be tricky for everybody. We’ll try to make the best of it, and I’ll go as fast as I can”.
Alfa Romeo SauberF1:
After a solid Friday, the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team continued to work in preparation for the race in FP3 with good results, and Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc headed into the qualifying sessions feeling very motivated. With positive first runs, Q2 seemed within reach, but on the last run, when the drivers returned to the track after a brief disruption following a red flag, they struggled with grip more than expected. Despite that, the team remains confident for the race, knowing that tyre selection will be a crucial factor in the outcome of the 2018 FIA Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix.
Marcus Ericsson; “Today we decided with the team to focus more on the race preparation and FP3 was a really good session; we were really in the fight here. In qualifying as well, we were fighting in the midfield. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make that extra step up towards the end of Q1 as our competitors did. It’s a bit disappointing to be out in Q1 because it felt like Q2 may have been possible – but at the end, it feels good to see that we are making progress. We worked a lot on race set-up and I am expecting us to be fighting in the midfield during the race tomorrow, so let’s see what is possible.”
Charles Leclerc; “We had a good Friday, but today was a little bit more tricky. The balance of the car was not quite how I wanted it to be, but I think that I still have some work to do in adapting to this type of car. In particular, I have to learn how to drive with more understeer, which I am struggling with a bit at the moment. In the end it was a bit frustrating, but I will definitely learn from this experience and I will do my best to come back stronger in tomorrow’s race. The pace we showed yesterday is promising, so it will be important to make a good start and to recover positions”
Haas F1 Team drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean qualified seventh and 16th, respectively, for the Bahrain Grand Prix Sunday at Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir.
Magnussen set the seventh-fastest time in Q1 with a lap of 1:29.594 around the 5.412-kilometer (3.363-mile), 15-turn track to move on to Q2. Grosjean was 16th quickest with a lap of 1:30.530 and just missed cracking the top-15 to advance to Q2. In fact, Grosjean ran an identical lap time to 15th-quick Fernando Alonso of McLaren, but since Alonso set his quick time prior to Grosjean, Alonso was given the spot.
In Q2, Magnussen was again seventh quick. His fast lap of 1:29.623 allowed him to make the top-10 cutoff and advance into Q3 for the second straight event. Magnussen qualified sixth in the series’ most recent race, the season-opening Australian Grand Prix March 25 at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit.
Magnussen maintained his consistency in Q3 to qualify seventh with a lap of 1:29.358. And with fourth-place qualifier Lewis Hamilton incurring a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change on his Mercedes, Magnussen will start sixth in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Both Magnussen and Grosjean ran exclusively on the Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft tire throughout qualifying.