Sargeant, Piastri and De Vries find reasons to be optimistic despite all three rookies dropping out in Q1 in Bahrain
Bahrain held a thrilling qualifying session under the lights, but none of the three rookies on the F1 grid were thrilled with their own results as Oscar Piastri, Nyck de Vries and Logan Sargeant were all eliminated in Q1. They all explained why, after Max Verstappen took pole for the season opener.
Williams’ Sargeant fared best out of the three rookies with P16. He set the exact same times McLaren's Lando Norris, but Norris got through to Q2 having set his time first. Sargeant was frustrated but said there was plenty to be optimistic about after his first F1 qualifying effort.
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“Not good enough,” said the American. “That was definitely frustrating to just miss out on it like that but to be honest I feel like I shouldn’t have put us in that position, I had a car that should have brought me to Q2 – I just made a little mistake in Sector 1 that cost us today.
“But I think I’ve laid a good foundation for us to build off of, the pace is there so we just need to start minimising those mistakes and capitalising. Obviously race running is different to quali but from the long runs I’ve done I feel quite comfortable. We just have to wait and see – focus on getting off the line clean first and go from there,” he said.
McLaren’s Piastri was 18th on the board, nearly half a second behind Sargeant, the Australian pointing to a Q1 red flag – caused by debris from Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari – as a factor that had caused his drop-out, saying: “I made too many mistakes, especially on that second lap [in Q1]. I think the red flag didn’t help us and kind of meant we had one attempt, but yeah, just too many mistakes on my side.”
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Like Sargeant, the Australian was optimistic about Sunday’s race. Although he said McLaren’s straight-line speed might not be up to par, he said their race pace could help them.
“Yeah I think we can try to make up some spots tomorrow, that will be the plan, definitely – we’ll see how we go. I think our straight-line speed is probably not our strongest point. For me, it’ll be a good opportunity to get back into the swing of racing. It’ll be my first race for quite some time, so I’ll make the most of it.
“I’m excited. I wish today had gone a bit better and a bit higher up but tomorrow’s a new day and I think we can make up a few positions.”
In P19 was Nyck de Vries, AlphaTauri’s 'rookie' having made a cameo for Williams in last year’s Italian Grand Prix. In his first Saturday qualifying session for the Red Bull sister team, De Vries ended up just 0.020s off Piastri, and ahead of former AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly (Alpine) – who rounds out the grid having had a lap time deleted.
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“Yeah, obviously the last run was going to be crucial, and sadly yes the start of the lap I lost the rears [at the] exit of Turn 1, exit Turn 2, and then exit of Turn 8, so I felt like they weren’t quite where I wanted them to be – but it is the way it is.
“I think anyway our long run pace seemed slightly better than our short run pace yesterday but let’s find out tomorrow. The midfield is so tight I think it can swing round very quickly,” said the Dutchman on Saturday night.