What the teams said - Qualifying in Bahrain

Special Contributor

Becky Hart
Teams - Bahrain - Saturday -

Red Bull

Red Bull looked to be struggling slightly in final practice, with both drivers unhappy with their car balance. But once the sun set, the Bulls came to the fore. They looked to be in an incredibly tight battle in qualifying with Ferrari, Aston Martin and Mercedes. But when it mattered, Verstappen put in a scintillating lap to grab the opening pole of the season, with Perez ensuring a front row lock out for the team.

READ MORE: Verstappen explains why he’s ‘particularly happy’ with Bahrain pole after ‘unusual’ approach by Red Bull

Max Verstappen, 1st, 1:29.708

“I’m very happy to be on pole, it hasn’t been the easiest weekend so far as we’ve been struggling to find the right balance and I’ve been trying to find my rhythm. Overall, it was quite a good qualifying, we recovered well with the performance. It’s great for the whole Team to have a one-two start tomorrow, and to have Checo up there as well is really promising. A lot of things can happen during a race as we all know, but I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do out there on track as a Team.”

Sergio Perez, 2nd, 1:29.846

“When you miss pole position by a tenth of a second you always think there is a bit more you could have given, that is only a braking zone or something. It was really close out there today, look at the competition from Q2 and Q3, if you didn’t get a perfect lap then you were P5. We made some compromises in qualifying for tomorrow’s race and hopefully that will pay off so we can have a very strong race car. I am more comfortable with the car; the rear end of this car is a bit more planted, so I am able to work with it a little better so that’s a positive for me. I think Ferrari will be in the mix for the race, along with Aston Martin and Mercedes. We hadn’t seen this kind of pace from Ferrari until today, so I think they have been hiding quite a bit. If Charles was to do his final run, he would have been in with a shot for pole position. I think managing the tyre degradation will be crucial tomorrow and it will be really important for us to concentrate on our own race.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal

“Great start to the season in what turned out to be a very close qualifying. Both drivers managed to navigate their way into Q3 with the two sets of the softer tyres available. To lock out the front row is the best possible start for tomorrow’s race, but, the points are on Sunday, and as we know from last year, it’s important to finish. As I say though, it’s a great start from the drivers and the Team, but plenty of work still to do as we look to convert these excellent grid positions into points tomorrow.”

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 04: Pole position qualifier Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing and Second placed qualifier Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing talk in parc ferme during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 04, 2023 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)


Sainz topped Q1, Leclerc was quickest in Q2. It looked like Ferrari were right in the fight, despite some early dramas as Leclerc lost a couple of pieces of bodywork after locking up on his initial lap at the start of qualifying. But the team opted not to send Leclerc out for a second push lap in Q3, opting instead to save a fresh set of softs for the race itself. Sainz did go out for a second run after a small mistake on his opening effort and improved to ensure Ferrari have two cars on the second row.

READ MORE: ‘It would have been close’ – Leclerc explains Q3 tactics as he trades pole shot for improved race strategy

Charles Leclerc, 3rd, 1:30.000

"A positive qualifying. We were in the fight for pole, which we didn't expect coming into the weekend. Several teams seem to be quite close, which makes things more exciting for drivers and fans, and I think it's good for the sport. In terms of race pace, we could find ourselves a bit on the backfoot, as our competitors looked very strong in that area during free practice. We will give everything tomorrow and, with an extra set of fresh Soft tyres, hopefully we will have a good fight."

Carlos Sainz, 4th, 1:30.154

"Today we made a step forward as a team. It’s been a difficult build-up to qualifying for me, not having had a clean day yesterday, but we reacted well today. I lost a bit in sector 2 in a couple of twitchy corners, but apart from that the feeling overall was better.

"Now we’re looking forward to tomorrow. We’ll fight until the very last lap and try to bring home a good result to get the season going."

Fred Vasseur, Team Principal

"It’s always difficult to have a clear picture going into the very first qualifying of the season, as you come here not knowing where the others are, but in the end we got a good result today. We were P1 in both Q1 and Q2 so it was looking good for the fight for pole, but then we decided with Charles to save one set of new tyres for tomorrow’s race, whereas with Carlos we used another new set since it was such a tight qualifying and a new tyre made the difference. Starting from the second row is actually a positive result considering that we will have the only driver with an extra set of new Soft tyres, so I am more than happy with this first qualifying. For tomorrow, when the points are scored, we need to put everything together and manage degradation. We have carried out some good race simulations, it’s a long season and tomorrow’s race is just the first step."

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 04: Carlos Sainz of Spain driving the (55) Ferrari SF-23 on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 04, 2023 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Aston Martin

When Alonso topped the timing sheet in FP3, it looked as if the Spaniard might be able to break a decade-long pole position drought. He was right in the mix throughout qualifying, but with only one set of tyres in Q3, ultimately had to settle for fifth. Stroll wasn’t too far back in eighth, the Canadian putting in a stellar effort considering he confirmed that he broke his toe along with his wrist in that biking accident.

READ MORE: 'An unbelievable result and car' – Alonso hails Aston Martin performance after qualifying fifth in Bahrain

Fernando Alonso, 5th, 1:30.336

“The whole weekend has been very good for us so far and we are very happy to be starting inside the top five for the first race tomorrow. Last year the team found itself out of Q1 and now we are lining up fifth on the grid. Everyone in the team has done an amazing job and this is a strong baseline to build upon as we start the season. We shall see what tomorrow brings, but we have been competitive in all the sessions and we are starting close to the podium positions. If there is an opportunity there for the taking, then we will look to capitalise on it.”

Lance Stroll, 8th, 1:30.836

“I am really happy with today’s result. It shows the progress we have made as a team over the winter and that our hard work is paying off. From eighth we can race well and hopefully bring home some points tomorrow. I have spent the practice sessions doing my best to learn about the car, get up to speed, and find a rhythm as we built up to qualifying. I am really pleased with the performance I put in today and feeling grateful to be here just two weeks after my accident. I cannot wait to go racing tomorrow.”

Mike Krack, Team Principal

“To get both cars through to Q3 in fifth and eighth is an excellent outcome from the first qualifying session of the year. I must say a big well done to the whole team – back at base and here at the track – for their constant hard work to get us to this point. The goal has been to take a step forward and our performance across today indicates we have done just that. We can race well from those grid positions and target scoring points with both cars. Huge credit to Lance for his performance today, especially given his situation, and having missed all of winter testing. His determination to get back in the car has been very impressive and he has done a super job to qualify in eighth. Fernando, too, delivered a strong performance tonight, with clean and tidy laps to take fifth, building on the speed we have shown during practice. Tomorrow is what really counts, though, and we will work hard to convert these positions into points.”

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 04: 5th placed qualifier Fernando Alonso of Spain and Aston Martin F1 Team looks on in parc ferme during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 04, 2023 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)


When qualifying began and Mercedes were right in the mix at the front, it looked like they had managed to make a big step up. But in Q3, when the others began to turn their engines up, Mercedes fell back somewhat. Given they only had one run each and had to go out midway through before the track had fully ramped up, it certainly isn’t all doom and gloom for the Silver Arrows, but both drivers will have their work cut out to move forward in what looks an incredibly tight front pack.

READ MORE: Russell targeting Bahrain GP podium fight as Mercedes drivers prepare to take on ‘unknown’ Alonso

Lewis Hamilton, 7th, 1:30.384

"I thought today may be worse than it ended up being. We did some great work overnight and the car felt much better in FP3. Overall, Qualifying was OK. I thought we might struggle to get into Q3 yesterday, but we didn't. We were in a fight. We don't know if we have the same race pace that we showed last year but I'm hoping we can be in the fight amongst the group behind Red Bull. It's really all going to depend on what our long-run pace is like. I am genuinely happy for Aston Martin. It's amazing to see their progress and the steps that they have taken. I am happy for Fernando as he's been here way longer than me so it's good to have him back in the mix! I'm sure we will have some good races."

George Russell, 6th, 1:30.340

"Today was a lot better than we expected, particularly after yesterday. We had a tough Friday; we expected to add a little bit of performance overnight, but we exceeded expectations. The changes we made we thought we might find a tenth, but we found close to five or six tenths, so we need to fully understand why that was. It's positive news but after FP3, we just focused on maximising performance. The car is feeling nice to drive so we are in a much better starting place than we were with the W13. We can now focus on adding global performance rather than problem solving. Tomorrow, we are in a good place to fight for third. Qualifying three tenths behind Ferrari when they have probably been the fastest car on single lap pace is positive. Fernando is probably more of a dark horse than Ferrari."

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"The gap to the very front isn't ridiculous considering we only ran one new soft tyre at the end of Q3. Nevertheless, it's not where we want to be and not what we had aimed for over the winter. We know what the gap is and what we need to find, or more, to win. Neither driver had a clean lap in the final run. There was probably another tenth-and-a-half still in there but it likely wouldn't have changed much. We maybe could have overtaken Alonso with both cars, but this is where we are. We are super critical of ourselves and what we need to achieve. There is no such thing as a sacred cow in our team, and we look at everything. The whole Team thinks like that, so we just need to get our heads together and work out the next steps from here. But first we race tomorrow - and we will be giving it everything we've got to move forward up the field."

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

"Clearly, we're disappointed to be so far off pole, but we looked much further off yesterday. It's encouraging that the car responded to the overnight changes, and we've managed to improve a few of the issues like the high-speed cornering. Through the morning session the car was behaving quite predictably given the hotter conditions. There was a bit of fine-tuning going into qualifying and early on, it looked like we were in a pretty good place. As the sessions went on the others seemed to be finding a bit more pace. We also only had one set of tyres for the final part of Qualifying so that added up to leaving us with a gap that's bigger than we'd like but one that we'll be working hard to close down. Our straight-line speed looks strong, and our degradation seems to be in a reasonable place; the Red Bulls are out of reach from what we have seen but it would be good if we can get into a race with the Ferraris and Aston Martins."

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 04: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W14 on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 04, 2023 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)


It wasn’t a dream start for Gasly at Alpine, the Frenchman exiting in Q1. He was out anyway having only managed the 17th best time, before the stewards deemed he has exceeded track limits, which dropped him to P20. Ocon though used his experience to scrape into the top 10, one of only two midfield cars to do so. He starts ninth and will be looking to get his points tally up and running at the earliest of opportunities.

Esteban Ocon, 9th, 1:30.984

“It felt good to be out there and finally really pushing the car to see what it can do and where we stand. Getting through to Q3 is definitely a good way to start the season. We are happy with the progress we have made since the pre-season test, and this is the best the car has felt on track so far this year. Our competitors in front are quick, and we have plenty of work ahead of us, but we’ve got a car that can get into the points and that will be the goal for the first race of the season.”

Pierre Gasly, 20th, 1:32.181

“Clearly, this is not the start to the season we wanted being knocked out in Q1, that said, it means we have everything to gain for tomorrow’s race and I’m definitely feeling positive that we can still come away with points from this weekend. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite feel at one with the car today and that meant we were way below where our true level is. There’s a lot of work ahead of us to continue our understanding of the car and I’m confident we will come back stronger for our next qualifying session. My focus is on tomorrow and I’m really looking forward to the race and giving it my all.”

Alan Permane, Sporting Director

“Overall, we have mixed feelings after today’s first Qualifying of the season with Esteban in ninth and Pierre in twentieth. In general, that’s not where we aim to be, and we certainly have improvements to make to ensure we’re qualifying in much stronger positions at later races. Pierre is certainly disappointed to be out in Q1. We have a lot to review on his side to understand what happened as clearly the car had much more pace than that. Esteban did a very good job and had three smooth sessions, though, looking at the timesheets, ninth place is probably where we deserve to be today. We’re definitely ready for tomorrow’s race as our high fuel running looked good in pre-season testing and in Free Practice 2 yesterday. Pierre can set his sights forward from the back of the grid as this race tends to have plenty of overtaking. For Esteban, he’s well in contention and there’s no reason why we cannot come away from here with good points.”

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 04: 20th placed qualifier Pierre Gasly of France and Alpine F1 walks in the Pitlane during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 04, 2023 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)


Magnussen got his timing all wrong after the red flags came out in Q1 and exited at the first time of asking. But Hulkenberg rather emulated what his team mate had done here last season by making it all the way to Q3 in an incredible display. He lost his only lap time to track limits in the top 10 shootout but it wouldn’t have been enough to lift him ahead of Ocon anyway.

HIGHLIGHTS: Watch the action from a tight qualifying battle in Bahrain as Verstappen leads Red Bull 1-2

Nico Hulkenberg, 10th, No time set in Q3

“It wasn’t perfect in Q3 unfortunately, but I don’t think I’m going to let that ruin my day and my mood. I think it was pretty decent – I was pretty happy how I was able to produce and deliver the laps. I think we saw already yesterday how over one lap we’re in a decent spot and quite competitive, but the real test will come tomorrow. The big emphasis and focus is there, I expect a really tough battle and race but I’m excited and looking forward to it.”

Kevin Magnussen, 17th, 1:31.892

“We got traffic in the final corner on the second run. It was so close – the whole field was bunched up – so if we lose a little bit, it’s game over. It’s a little bit unfortunate but the race is tomorrow, and we’ll try to do better there. There’s still stuff to work on, so we’ll see how we go in the race.”

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal

“It was a pretty good day for us today. I think we now know what we can do this year and I think Nico did a fantastic job on his comeback. We had two down points, Kevin going out Q1. Today was not his day but he knows what he can do and he’s upbeat about what the car is doing, so tomorrow is another day for him to score points. With Nico in Q3, we didn’t end up where we wanted to but P10 is very good for us. The whole team did a fantastic job and all the work that was put in last year and over winter to make and develop this car has come to fruition, so well done to everybody.”

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 04: Nico Hulkenberg of Germany driving the (27) Haas F1 VF-23 Ferrari locks a wheel under braking during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 04, 2023 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)


Zak Brown, McLaren CEO, confirmed that the team weren’t quite where they wanted to be midway through qualifying, and it was hard to argue with his assessment. Piastri went out at the first time of asking in his debut qualifying session, and while Norris did make Q2, he couldn’t make it to the top 10 shootout. The team didn’t start last season strongly either but soon managed to fight their way forward, and they will be hoping for a similar recovery this year.

READ MORE: Sargeant, Piastri and De Vries find reasons to be optimistic despite all three rookies dropping out in Q1 in Bahrain

Lando Norris, 11th, 1:31.381

“P11 in the first qualifying of the year, I would say I’m reasonably happy with that. I think we pretty much got everything out of the car. There maybe was a tenth left in it but I needed two tenths to gain any positions. It was a tough qualifying, it was very close between all the midfield and even the top cars, to be honest. It was a little bit better than I was thinking coming into the session, so we’ll take it. It’s a long race ahead tomorrow and a track we can overtake on, so hopefully we can move forward.”

Oscar Piastri, 18th, 1:32.101

“Obviously it’s not what we were looking for there. The red flag compromised us a bit and I just didn’t nail it on the second set of tyres. That said, it was my first F1 qualifying and it is a long season ahead. We’ll do our homework and see what we can do. Tomorrow is another day.”

James Key, Executive Director, Technical

“Today saw a very busy first qualifying session of the season. Q1 was disrupted with a red flag and a scramble at the end of the session, which was a real shame as it left us with a compromised first run, with the tyres not up to temperature, and then a second run filled with traffic. Oscar just missed out, but he’s shown good pace all weekend and we know he can recover from this. He did a very disciplined job in his first qualifying session. Lando did a good job to get through to Q2 and narrowly missed out on the top 10.

“We know we’ve got a bit of performance to find, and we have always said that was going to be the case with this configuration of car, but I have to say it was very, very close today. The grid has really tightened around us and it’s all to play for tomorrow. With decent long-run pace we can make good with both cars and target points tomorrow.”

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 04: 18th placed qualifier Oscar Piastri of Australia and McLaren walks in the Pitlane during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 04, 2023 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo looked to have a good car and were right in the mix in the top 10 in final practice, but once the sun went down, the midfield got tighter and both cars fell just the wrong wide of the cut off in Q2. Nonetheless, it was a solid effort and with Zhou only 0.030s behind his team mate, it bodes well for a very close intra-team fight all season. If those two can keep pushing each other, points should follow.

Valtteri Bottas, 12th, 1:31.443

“It was a straightforward qualifying session for us, and starting from P12 we will be definitely aiming for a place in the points. I’m quite happy about the laps I delivered and it’s good to see how Zhou was able to push me as well: we were just a bit short of Q3, but the midfield is really close and everything can still happen. From what we have seen in testing, we are not bad in race trim, and it will be interesting to see how tyre degradation will affect different cars: it’s quite difficult to predict how the race will shape up, but we’re going to give it our best shot.”

Zhou Guanyu, 13th, 1:31.473

“Even from outside of the top 10, I feel we have the potential to gain a few positions during tomorrow’s race: last year we were able to climb up the field, and I see no reason why we can’t repeat what we have done before. It will be a tight fight, once again, and points are definitely the target. Looking at our performance from practice, we are in the mix for the top ten and it will often be a case of who can put everything together on the day: we went really close to it today, but ultimately fell a bit short. Still, there’s everything to play for tomorrow and I’m confident we can do a good job.”

Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Chief

“Today’s result is a good first step and a platform on which we can build on to score points tomorrow. We can be happy about the way our team executed qualifying today: both drivers did well and the whole crew, here and in Hinwil, stood up to the task. We expected the midfield to be an incredibly tight affair, and tonight’s result confirms just how close the battle will be. There are minimal gaps between all the cars around us and a single tenth can make the difference between quite a few positions: even though we missed out on Q3, we are still in the mix for the points. Our focus shifts to Sunday now: we need to prepare our best race plan, making sure we find a way to make the most of the good long-run pace we showed in testing and practice. I am confident we can have a good showing tomorrow and deliver a good result to the team back at home.”

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 04: Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Alfa Romeo F1 C43 Ferrari in the Pitlane during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 04, 2023 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)


AlphaTauri had been vying with Williams in practice as a team that looked reliable, but not overly quick. As such, it was a decent effort by Tsunoda to make it into Q2, even if he couldn’t progress from there. De Vries couldn’t match that and exited in Q1, although Gasly’s track limit infringement saved the Dutchman from qualifying last.

READ MORE: Sargeant, Piastri and De Vries find reasons to be optimistic despite all three rookies dropping out in Q1 in Bahrain

Nyck de Vries, 19th, 1:32.121

“We would’ve liked to qualify higher today, but I didn’t have the tyres in the correct window. The final lap in Q1 was crucial, but unfortunately, I lost the rear. Our long-run performance has been looking more promising than our short-run pace, so that should provide for more performance tomorrow. The midfield is tight and competitive, so we need to make sure we gain some positions. It will be challenge, but we have tonight to evaluate our data.”

Yuki Tsunoda, 14th, 1:32.510

“We didn’t expect to get into Q2, but getting through was very positive for myself and the team. Of course, I was frustrated we didn’t have new tyres for Q2, but we knew that was the plan from the beginning. We haven’t tested the long-runs in these conditions, but we’ll dig through the data extensively tonight to be able to build the strongest possible car going into tomorrow, especially in terms of finding grip. At the same time, I am happy with my performance today, but ultimately tomorrow is when it counts. We are aiming for points, and we know it won’t be the easiest race from what we have learnt from testing last week, but anything can happen.”

Jody Egginton, Technical Director

“We had a clear picture of what the primary limitations of the car were on Friday night, and it’s fair to say that the changes made overnight improved the balance of the car in FP3 & qualifying. This is promising, but there is still much to do to get the car to where we want it. Yuki has delivered a good performance, extracting pretty much everything from the car, whilst Nyck has also put on a solid first qualifying. He’s made good progress, and more importantly, provided excellent feedback on what the car is doing and what he needs from it. As you would expect, we are not satisfied with the performance shown by the AT04 so far, but tomorrow’s race is another key milestone, and aero developments will be coming through in the next events.”

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 04: Yuki Tsunoda of Scuderia AlphaTauri and Japan during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 04, 2023 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)


Sargeant deserves some credit – he actually recorded the exact same time as Norris in Q1 and only exited at the first time of asking because the McLaren man had set his time slightly earlier. It was a good showing from the American, who did say before the season that qualifying was his strength. As for Albon, he made Q2 but only ran once in that segment, and was fighting a very fidgety car. After running wide, he aborted his lap and didn’t set a time.

Logan Sargeant, 16th, 1:31.652

“It's a dream come true to go out and qualify in Formula 1. We had good pace today and the team deserved to have both cars in Q2. A slight mistake in Sector 1 cost me as I struggled to find my brake point with the change of wind at Turn 1. However, we've laid a good foundation for ourselves to build off going forward. I think we had the car in a great window this evening. In terms of balance it was right where I wanted it, I just needed to put it together slightly better.

“It's going to be a pretty special feeling when the lights go out tomorrow. I'll try to get off the line clean, have a good first lap and build from there.”

Alex Albon, 15th, No time set in Q2

“We had some front wing damage in Qualifying, and we lost one of the flaps, so we didn’t complete a lap in Q2. It’s disappointing as, looking at the times in Q2, I really believe we could have made it to Q3.

“I’m a bit disappointed after being P9 in Q1 and I feel like we deserved more than where we qualified but I think if you look at where we were this time last year and where we are at this year, apart from Aston Martin, we’re the team that has made the biggest step forward. I’m really proud of everyone at the team and at the factory and things are going in the right direction.

“We really do come alive when the track becomes cold and I would say our race pace is stronger than our qualifying pace, so let’s see what happens tomorrow.”

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance

“A frustrating result this evening but one that shows good promise. Logan was extremely unlucky not to get into Q2 having set the same lap time as Norris. Whilst Alex progressed to Q2 and was in a great position to set a good lap time, he had to abort his flying lap when an adjuster on his front wing failed, causing the flap to drop. Having completed so much running last week without an issue, it is frustrating to have it today in such an important session.

“We can take a lot of positives from today as we look to translate the performance into a solid and forward-looking race plan. Both drivers know how to compile a strong race stint at this circuit, and everyone in Bahrain and in Grove are looking forward to helping them make good progress.”

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 04: Logan Sargeant of United States driving the (2) Williams FW45 Mercedes in the Pitlane during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 04, 2023 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)


Mario Isola, Head of Motorsport

"As we fully expected, the majority of teams used the soft tyre in FP3 to prepare for qualifying, Red Bull was the only team to use the hard as well, without compromising the availability of this compound for the race – as each driver has two sets available. The new hard is sure to be a key to the race tomorrow. Qualifying was run entirely on the soft, given the performance gaps between the compounds, with Verstappen beating last year’s pole time from Charles Leclerc. The fact that this year’s pole was around eight-tenths faster, in similar conditions, underlines the increased performance of the 2023 car-tyre package."

READ MORE: FACTS AND STATS - A first front row lock out in Bahrain for Red Bull, as Verstappen chases his first win here



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