Little to separate the two Toro Rosso drivers, who will line up in 10th and 11th and thus have free tyre choice for the race. After their coming together in Australia, it could be fireworks from the start as Verstappen attempts to keep his team mate behind into the first corner...
Max Verstappen, 10th, 1:31.772
“It was quite a good qualifying at a track that isn’t the strongest for us, so to be that close to Q3 is quite a good achievement. Of course you always want to end up further up, but we have to be realistic and try and make it a good race tomorrow. The good news is that we can choose on what tyres to start on tomorrow, so all in all it’s not a bad result. During the Free Practice sessions over the weekend we’ve also been focusing a bit more on the race because we didn’t have that many Super Soft tyres compared to other people, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow – it will be a tough but very interesting race!”
Carlos Sainz, 11th, 1:31.816
“I think we did a decent job in today’s qualifying as we knew that with the amount of Super Soft tyres we have, getting into Q3 was difficult. We still managed to put a good lap together and even though I’m not entirely happy because my lap in Q1 was faster than in Q2, we are quick and I think we have a good chance of scoring points tomorrow. We have some interesting tyre options for the race and I’m therefore looking forward to it!”
James Key, Technical Director
“We knew that out of the first four events this year, Bahrain was always going to be the trickiest one for us and unfortunately this proved to be the case today. This is a stop-start track, where longitudinal performance is a bigger player than lateral performance, and we are weaker in longitudinal than lateral… So it’s not playing to the strengths of our car as much as other circuits will be. The nature of this track is also to pull the field a lot closer and so it was very tight between teams today. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough tyres to do a proper job in Q2 with only one set available – had we had enough for a proper Q2 I think we could’ve got one, if not both cars, through to Q3, but with this format of qualifying you’ve got to have a certain quantity of tyres to make it work and we only had a single set of tyres for Q2. Having said that, we’re just behind the Q3 line-up, we have the choice of tyres for the race start and that gives us a little bit of an advantage for tomorrow. We’ve now got some work to do this evening but hopefully we can have a stronger race performance and finish with both cars in the points.”
The big casualty of Q1 was Perez, with Force India not getting their timing right for his second run. There was better news for Hulkenberg, who was on the elimination bubble in Q2 before a quick lap promoted him into Q3 and eigth on the grid.
Nico Hulkenberg, 8th, 1:31.620
“It’s a nice result to make Q3 because we’ve had to work hard this weekend to get the performance we needed from the car. The changes we made last night took us in a good direction and made the difference today. During qualifying the car just got better and better, and I think the track improvement came towards us as well. All of my laps were clean and tidy, and I’m happy with our performance. Hopefully tomorrow night will be a similar story because I think we can come away with some good points. It’s true that the cars directly behind me have a free choice of tyres, but I’m happy with where I’m starting because it’s always better to be further up the grid.”
Sergio Perez, 18th, 1:32.911
“It was an unlucky session and we just miscalculated things. I think the mistake was doing an extra timed lap during my first run in Q1 because it left me short of time for my second run. It looks like we just got caught out and it’s going to hurt my race tomorrow. It’s a shame because the car has shown good pace today and we had the potential to have both cars inside the top ten. I will do my best tomorrow to fight back and recover some points.”
Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal
“Qualifying was a mixed bag and it has left us wondering what might have been. As Nico demonstrated, we found some pace overnight and he delivered an excellent lap at the end of Q2 to reach Q3. With Sergio our approach in Q1 didn’t work out and it’s left us with an uphill struggle in tomorrow’s race. We knew Sergio had to put in another lap, but a miscalculation meant we cut things too fine and left us in the drop zone and out of time. It was a mistake on our side and we hold our hand up to Sergio. Looking at the positives, we’ve seen today that the car is performing well and Bahrain offers many opportunities to overtake, so there’s every reason to believe we can bring home a good result with both drivers tomorrow evening.”
A second successive front row lock out for Mercedes was an excellent result for the world champions, who, for a brief moment, had looked vulnerable in FP3 to Ferrari. Rosberg was on provisional pole after the first runs of Q3 with Hamilton's last corner error looking costly, but the reigning world champion put together the perfect lap to grab his 51st career pole.
Lewis Hamilton, 1st, 1:29.493
"I’m really happy with that – the last lap was so much fun! Throughout practice and most of qualifying my laps weren’t quite perfect and Nico would be ahead by a tenth here and a tenth there – whatever it might be. So, to finally put it all together when it counted was really satisfying – and quite a relief! There was big pressure too, as I went off on the previous lap and knew I had to make a big improvement. A massive thank you to everyone here at the track and also back at the factories in Brackley and Brixworth for this car. It’s really very special. It will be important to get a good start tomorrow, like always, especially as there’s a longer run down to turn one here than in Melbourne. It’s something we’ve been working on – but we’ve only had a couple of weeks since the last race, so I don’t expect big improvements. Hopefully it’s better than last time – we’ll see."
Nico Rosberg, 2nd, 1:29.570
"My lap felt good and I was sure that I had got pole when I crossed the line – but then the guys told me that Lewis was just a bit quicker. He did an incredible lap at the end, so a good job from him. The good news for me is that this is one of the tracks where pole position counts for the least. Strategy tomorrow will be important and maybe even quite messy, so there are still a lot of opportunities. You have a few more places to overtake here than at other tracks too, so I’m quite confident for tomorrow. Tyres are going to be a big issue. We have softer tyres here than last year and it will be interesting to see how long they last and when they will start graining. It should be an entertaining race, so I’m looking forward to it."
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"Leaving aside any comment on the qualifying format itself, the actual battle today between our two cars – and also between ourselves and Ferrari – was very close and really exciting. It was only in the final part of Q2 and Q3 that Lewis and Nico hooked everything up – and for Lewis it came down to his final Q3 lap after he ran wide on his first run. What he produced was a stunning lap, the fastest ever on this circuit - quicker even than the V10 era - and more than three seconds faster than last year's pole. Really impressive. Nico came very close to beating it and fell less then a tenth short in the end after his fastest lap of the session. My feelings about this qualifying format haven't changed and there is nothing to add to what I've already said about it. Now we focus on tomorrow's race, on getting off the line well - and what I am sure will be a very tight battle with Ferrari."
Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
"A fantastic competition between our two drivers and the two Ferraris – the result of having four cars very close in performance here. There was a lot of excitement building up to those second Q3 runs, with Lewis making a mistake in the final corner and adding extra pressure to his second lap. All four cars made it out for another run and it was a closely fought thing, with terrific laps from Lewis and Nico to lock out the front row. There’s a great sense of pride in seeing this car set an all-time lap record tonight. There’s a lot of negative talk around at the moment, with suggestions that these cars aren’t fast or exciting enough. In fact, they’re now proving to be quicker than those of the V10 era – previously the fastest machines in Formula One history. All credit to the men and women on both the chassis and Power Unit side of this project for their innovative, record-breaking work."
A great effort by Ricciardo saw him outqualify both Williams for fifth on the grid, but Kvyat was once again an early casualty, becoming the first to be knocked out in Q2.
Daniel Ricciardo, 5th, 1:30.854
“I’m really happy with the result today. We didn’t expect to be fifth, especially from my side of the garage as yesterday didn’t go too well and this morning wasn’t great either. We came into qualifying thinking if all went well, maybe we would squeeze into Q3, and so to get into fifth is great. I am happy with the laps we did, the changes we made from FP3 worked well for us in quali and I am excited for what the race will bring tomorrow.”
Daniil Kvyat, 15th, 1:32.241
"Today didn’t go as planned. Our timing during the session was not bad but we just didn’t have any pace. From our side of the garage there was something missing when we got to qualifying, I don’t know at the moment exactly what it is but it’s not where I want to be. FP1 was fine and we showed good pace, FP2 and 3 weren’t too bad either but when it came to qualifying we were pretty much nowhere. I don’t know what it was but we will look into it and try to turn things around for the race tomorrow."
Christian Horner, Team Principal
“A superb performance by Daniel today. He got quicker and quicker on every set of tyres and extracted every ounce of performance from the car. To line up P5 on this circuit for us is an excellent result. Unfortunately for Dany things didn’t go as well. He was happy with the car in the warmer conditions earlier in FP3, but the balance fell away from him during qualifying and he struggled for pace which resulted in a P15 for him. But as we have seen here in previous years, with a good strategy overtaking is possible and that should make for a fascinating race.”
Despite a very late start to his running in FP3 due to technical issue, Vandoorne managed to outqualify his more experienced team mate in his first ever qualifying session to start 12th on the grid. After the highs of Friday, Saturday showed the true pace of the MP4-31, with Button struggling with oversteer and settling for 14th.
Stoffel Vandoorne, 12th, 1:31.934
“I think I can be pretty happy with today’s result. I didn’t really know what to expect, but from yesterday onwards I’ve felt quite confident in the car and today was all about fine-tuning it.
“Free practice earlier today was quite good; I still knew there was a bit more time to come, and I think we more or less maximised everything in qualifying today. It was a close call in Q1, but then in Q2 I had a clean lap without mistakes. We could see it was very close in front of us, and if we’d gained one or two tenths we could maybe have got into Q3. So unless you’re on pole there’s always some margin for improvement, but overall I’m very happy with the qualifying I just had.
“I knew after yesterday and this morning that I had quite similar pace to Jenson, and that if I improved a little bit I could maybe therefore challenge him. He’s a world champion, and an excellent driver obviously, so he’s been a really good benchmark for me this weekend. I have a lot of respect for him.
“I’ve won here in Bahrain before, and I like the circuit. I know it well – and it definitely helps if you know a circuit before you make your grand prix debut there. Obviously I didn’t know the car before getting here this weekend, but it helped that I knew the circuit.
“It’s a good feeling to have done a decent job, but now our focus in only on tomorrow: to try to have a good race. It’s not really sunk in yet that tomorrow I’ll drive my first grand prix – I’ve just been focusing on qualifying so far – but now I’ve got some time to think, prepare for the race and do my very best to make a good job of it.
“There’s lots to analyse before tomorrow, lots of different strategies to go through, but I feel confident I can do an okay job. What it will bring us, I think it’s still too early to say, and I don’t want to make any predictions. So we’ll see.”
Jenson Button, 14th, 1:31.998
“The car has been really good all weekend: I’ve been mostly struggling with a bit of understeer, but, for my Q2 run, we came up a tiny bit on the front wing, and the car was the complete opposite – big oversteer.
“Oversteer is not something I particularly like – so I wasn’t very happy with my Q2 lap. Having said that, Stoffel did a good job today, and I didn’t do such a good job. He’s very competitive, he’s quick, he’s won here before, and I think he’s proven how good he is around a place like this. We knew how quick he could be – especially over one lap. He’s been a big part of this team for the past couple of years, and as I say he did a really good job.
“Still, we know the pace is in the car, so hopefully tomorrow will be a bit better. Nobody really knows what’s going to happen in the race. It’s a tricky one – we’ve got three different tyres to work with, and I think we have a reasonable understanding of what to do, but you never know until the race starts. There are so many options – and we fell foul of that at the last race, so hopefully we won’t do that here and we’ll have a stronger performance on Sunday.
“There’s definitely more to come from the full package.”
Eric Boullier, McLaren-Honda Racing Director
“Although we’ll never be exultant about 12th and 14th place on the grid, undoubtedly Stoffel’s qualifying performance on his first ever grand prix Saturday was pretty special.
“We already knew he was quick – he’s shown that countless times in World Series by Renault 3.5, in GP2 and indeed in testing for McLaren – but what has been so particularly commendable these past two days has been his studious dedication to the complex procedural endeavour that constitutes getting the very best out of today’s state-of-the-art Formula 1 cars. He didn’t put a foot wrong. Chapeau!
“I also want to say ‘well done’ to the team, who have prepared him so well for his grand prix debut weekend, and who made sure that he was able to slide into Fernando’s car so seamlessly here at such short notice.
“Jenson did his usual very professional job, and may well have gone quicker still had we optimised his Q2 set-up. In Q1 he’d had a bit of understeer, so we’d attempted to dial it out in Q2 by giving him a little bit more front wing. But, as things turned out, we slightly over-compensated, and the result was oversteer.
“Having said all that, both our drivers are well positioned to mount a sustained attack on the Bahrain International Circuit tomorrow evening, in an effort to score points if possible, and to put on a good show for our Bahraini part-shareholders, who’ll be watching the race in our paddock hospitality units as avidly as always.”
Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer
“Firstly, Stoffel drove brilliantly in his first ever Formula 1 qualifying. This weekend was also his first time in the MP4-31, and he should be really proud of his achievement, ending the session in P12.
“On the other hand, our overall qualifying performance was a little bit disappointing. We were running solidly throughout yesterday's free practice sessions and we expected more. However, I think the last couple of days have been a good indication of where our current performance now lies.
“The track conditions today were very different from that of yesterday, with much higher track and air temperatures, which changed the characteristics of the overall car. We’ll now focus on tweaking the set-up to have a more stable race tomorrow.”
With both cars making it into Q3, qualifying was a marked improvement from Australia for Williams. Just 0.002s separated the drivers, with Bottas just edging his team mate.
Valtteri Bottas, 6th, 1:31.153
"It was a good qualifying session and we managed to get the maximum out of the car we had. In Felipe’s car we’ve also made progress with the new front wing today, which is good. We start the race in a strong position and the target will be to finish in the top five which I think is definitely possible. We just have to find a way to get past the Red Bull and the fact that we have better straight-line speed compared to them should help us. I’m hoping for a nice clean race and to collect some good points tomorrow for both cars."
Felipe Massa, 7th, 1:31.155
"It was definitely a good qualifying. We always expected to be a little bit more in front. It was a difficult day trying the new wing in practice and then not really having the balance, so we took our time to decide whether or not we would use it in qualifying. We decided to use it and managed to improve our time which was important. We need more time though to understand this front wing to get the most from it. I’m pretty upbeat about our position for qualifying, though. We know the race will be long tomorrow. We have one Red Bull in front and also one behind. Both Toro Rossos are behind, as are the other teams we are fighting, so we know the race will be difficult. We will try the best we can to score as many points as possible."
Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering
"It’s always fraught at the beginning of this new qualifying format when you need to think about your strategy and timings, but by the time you’re in the middle of Q2 it all evens out and you know where your pace is. We ran again in Q2 on the basis that we wanted to get the drivers ready for Q3 and use the extra track time. We knew that Ferrari and Mercedes would just be a little bit too far away from us and so we wouldn’t be able to do a second run in Q3. The drivers were improving throughout and I think we’ve got ourselves into a reasonable position. We are roughly the third quickest car so we are in a good positon for the race tomorrow. The drivers are reasonably well matched as there is very little between them, just two milliseconds in Q3. That is what we want to see. The set-up and tyre work we did on Friday is very encouraging in terms of race pace. We’ve got a reasonable strategy planned, so we just need to execute it tomorrow to come out with a good haul of points."
Both Palmer and Magnussen lacked the pace to truly challenge and were eliminated in Q1, Magnussen marginally the quicker of the two. However, due to Friday's weighbridge infringement, the Dane will start tomorrow's race from the pit lane.
Kevin Magnussen, 19th, 1:33.181
“I only had one qualifying lap this session as we are keeping our new tyres for the race, and the field is quite close where we are at the moment. Without the penalty we would have approached qualifying in a normal fashion and I think we would have had been able to qualify as high as we did in Melbourne. Looking at our pace, we could achieve a result in the midfield tomorrow but it’s a long race and a lot can happen. We will go into the race and we’ll do the best we can. I want to enjoy it and hope for some good surprises!
“As we know, I will start from the pit lane as a penalty for not stopping at the FIA weighbridge in FP2. I saw the red light to indicate the need to stop, which actually was for Daniil Kvyat but in fact the same light was also for me, and that’s what I misunderstood. I didn’t know that you could have two cars called in at the same time. When I saw Daniil [Kvyat] pulling in at the red light, I slowed down in case they’d wave me through but they didn’t. In fact they wanted both of us. It’s done now, it happened, and let’s focus on getting ready for race day.”
Jolyon Palmer, 20th, 1:33.438
“The team did a good job; we avoided the first drop and operationally, I think we have a sound understanding of qualifying. We gave it as good a shot as we could but in the end the pace wasn’t there. Our race pace was a lot better than our qualifying performance in Melbourne so hopefully the same situation is being exaggerated here. I’m aiming to have a strong race getting as far up the order as possible. It’s easier to overtake here than it was in Melbourne so we’ll give it a good go. Anything can happen.”
Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director
"It wasn’t a great session for us. Kevin already had a penalty - starting the race from the pitlane – so we needed to do one lap with him, which we did cleanly, and then save as many tyres as possible to maximise his chances in the race tomorrow. Unfortunately, Jolyon didn’t have a great time today. He struggled in FP3 so we made some set-up changes before qualifying, however he still looked like he was having a hard time with the car. We will thoroughly look through everything this evening to figure out what it was as he seemed more comfortable yesterday.
"We knew we’d face some tough times this season as a result of how late this project was started. Nobody at the team wants to qualify near the back of the field so clearly that’s not our objective. We have potential to move forward in the race. We are not scared of the hard work that it will take and everyone at Enstone and Viry are working very well together. We look forward to making progress and seeing our hard work start to bear fruit with better performance and grid positions.
"It’s a tough race here in Bahrain and there’s a lot of tyre degradation. Tyre management is key and it’s an area we are reasonably strong on so we’ll do everything we can in the race to move the cars up the field. We are putting our heads down and are working hard and, for tomorrow we hope to be as ready as possible to deliver as solid a race as possible."
An excellent day for Wehrlein who outqualified not just his team mate, but both Saubers and both Renaults to start 16th on the grid.
Pascal Wehrlein, 16th, 1:32.806
“I’m so happy! Such a difference from Melbourne! It was a shame to miss out on Q2 but I’m so pleased to be as close as we are and it’s a really good position to build from. I need to thank the team for their hard work in giving me a car I felt comfortable in. We’re in a good place for tomorrow, although we’re still experiencing some degradation issues on the long runs. It’s a long race, so we need to manage that. It would be great to get the same kind of start as the last race and I hope we can stay competitive with the cars around us.”
Rio Haryanto, 21st, 1:34.190
“After a really good FP3 this morning I’m quite disappointed with my qualifying session. I only had time for one shot at it again and I didn’t get enough out of my push lap. Clearly there is more to come from the car and from me so we’ll have to see what happens with this format and work to optimise whatever solution we have in China. It’s a harder job for tomorrow now but I’m still looking forward to it as I was much happier with our race pace yesterday.”
Dave Ryan, Racing Director
“A truly fantastic performance from Pascal today. We’ve made a pretty good step here but he definitely had the bit between his teeth after FP3 and knew a good result was within his grasp. We spent a lot of time looking at what we needed to do here after the disappointment of Melbourne and it’s good to see that translating into real progress. We were just a couple of tenths away from Q2 as well, so although there’s plenty of room for improvement, we’re heading in the right direction. Rio has had a better weekend here also and was looking good in FP3. He didn’t quite get his lap together, which he’ll be disappointed with, but it’s coming good for him too.”
After FP3 it looked like Ferrari might have the pace to trouble the front row and possibly split the Silver Arrows, but in the end the best efforts of Vettel and Raikkonen were only good enough for the second row.
Sebastian Vettel, 3rd, 1:30.012
“I am happy to take the fight. Let's see where we are during the race. Today there's nothing really to complain about. It's a big surprise that both Lewis and Nico in the end were able to improve so much. For me the track was similar to the run before and that's why the time was practically the same. Tomorrow we hope to have a good start, but not doing the same as in Australia thereafter... We know we are not yet where we want to be but I think we are pushing very hard though. Obviously the season has started already so it's up to us to make sure we keep making technical progress, but as I said many times the car is a big improvement to last year and this will provide more opportunities to improve also in the future; but we really have to keep up the pressure. You can talk about what can happen in ten races but we have to focus first of all on tomorrow, prepare the race as good as we can because there's a chance to do well and to win. That's my belief. If I am right or not we'll see, but that's the joy, I think, and what I love about racing. To put it in simple terms, I would love to win tomorrow. Naturally if we had more speed we'd also have a better chance to win. But I think we are on the right track, we are a team and we try to improve together. Today was a good day for us, all the car balance was good and we got everything we wanted by ourselves, which is the most important thing.”
Kimi Raikkonen, 4th, 1:30.244
“The session went straightforward, everything worked pretty ok, but obviously it would have been better to gain some positions. With the last set of Supersoft tires I had some difficulties in the first few corners, so I was not able to improve my laptime, but apart from that it seemed to be ok. Still, this is not the result we aim to, we want to be in the front. We definitely have some more work to do because we are more or less close to where we want to be. Tomorrow we'll try to improve from where we finished today, we'll do our best and see what the day brings. Let's try to make it a good race.”
Another hugely encouraging day for the American newcomers who got both of their drivers through to Q2 for the first time. Ninth for Grosjean means he's the highest placed driver with a free tyre choice for the race.
Romain Grosjean, 9th, 1:31.756
“Our position is higher than our expectations, so that’s good. Everyone worked brilliantly. I was talking with Guenther (Steiner, team principal) before qualifying and he said this session would be a big test for us. Every time we go out on track, we’re learning more. I’m very proud of my guys. Tomorrow is a long race – a difficult race with the tyre choices – but I think it’s possible to have a good time. We’re hoping for more points, but it’s a very different track from Australia. I’m looking forward to going racing.”
Esteban Gutierrez, 13th, 1:31.945
“It was a very tight and very competitive qualifying for us today. I had quite a lot of traffic at first, so it was tricky to prepare the tires on the out-laps. Therefore, my first time in Q1 wasn’t great. However, the second time was a lot better. Going into Q2 was a fantastic effort from the team to get everything prepared. Again, I found there was a lot of traffic in front, so it was wasn’t ideal. However, the most important thing for us to do now is to concentrate on the race and obtaining points. We are P13 and we’ll do our best to maximize everything for tomorrow.”
Guenther Steiner, team principal
“We had a very good day today. FP3 (Free Practice 3) was flawless and we couldn’t have wished for anything better with qualifying. To achieve P9 and P13 sets us in a good position to score points tomorrow. That’s exactly where we wanted to position ourselves. Both drivers did a fantastic job at the right time. The team was able to perform a perfect turnaround, so hats off to them. We did everything we needed to do, and now we head into tomorrow to try and find some points.”
Nasr blamed a car problem for him becoming the first man to be eliminated in Q1, but Ericsson was much happier, despite being knocked out in the same segment.
Marcus Ericsson, 17th, 1:32.840
“It was a decent qualifying, even though the result is not satisfying. As a team we have done a good job over the weekend with regard to the set-up of the car. We all know that we need to find more pace, because we cannot be happy being knocked out in Q1 again. We want to proceed and go further. For the moment we have to see what tomorrow brings. The race is a different story, but, as always, I will do my best.”
Felipe Nasr, 22nd, 1:34.388
“Clearly, we do have some issues with my car. We have to look into this in more detail. On the other hand, we have a good reference point with the other car in our garage, so we have to analyse the data and understand what we have to change for tomorrow.”
Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director
“We experienced falling temperatures in Sakhir that made the circuit slightly faster at thwe end of each session. We’re expecting two to three pit stops tomorrow. Most of the top drivers didn’t save fresh sets of tyres for the race, which adds another interesting aspect. The top eight qualifiers will all start on used supersoft. From our initial calculations, we can see that there are a number of potentially different ways to approach the race, with no single strategy that stands out as being obviously quickest. There will be a lot of data analysis tonight, which should lead to a tactically intriguing race tomorrow with many different schools of thought.”