The messages that Red Bull had been sending during the winter were confirmed in the first qualifying session of the season, in Bahrain, where Max Verstappen took the first pole of the year and the 21st of his career in Formula 1. Although this result was easily imaginable if we look at the speed exhibited by the team in the collective tests a week ago, few suspected such an even Saturday, with up to four teams with options to fight for the front row of the grid. The current champion will be escorted by Checo Pérez, while the two Ferraris will form the second row, with Charles Leclerc (third) ahead of Carlos Sainz (fourth). Fernando Alonso will start fifth, a position that ratifies the huge step forward taken by Aston Martin. That Lewis Hamilton starts seventh after falling just six tenths off the pace of first also suggests that Mercedes is ready for battle.
Red Bull met the forecasts and this Sunday (4:00 p.m., Dazn) it will start as a favorite in the fight for the victory of a test with more candidates than those initially listed in the pools. If the punch of the Milton Keynes (Great Britain) team could be taken for granted, no one expected Ferrari and Mercedes to be so close to the world champion troop. At this point it would be a real recklessness to discount any of the members of the big teams, even more so if we take into account the strategy of each other. Leclerc, for example, got out of the car after his first fastest lap attempt and when he had the second best time, giving up fighting for first place because he had an extra set of soft tires with a view to a much more open race than expected. that you might initially think.
Mercedes and Ferrari join the Red Bull party, after the former got rid of all the ballast that camouflaged them and the latter went from less to more. You can expect anything from Alonso, especially if we look at the very high level of Aston Martin in the long runs, in which he shows that he treats the tires much better than, for example, the Scuderia. “We lack that half second to fight for pole position, but we met the expectations we had. It is to pinch yourself, because eight months ago, when I signed, things looked much worse ”, summed up the Asturian. “The strong point of the car is the long runs. If something happens in front of us, we are confident that we will be in the fight for the podium. Seeing is believing ”, added the two-time world champion with Renault (2005 and 2006), enthusiastic about this stage that he has begun together with the Silverstone structure. “This car is just the start of this project. I talk to the designers and they tell me that important things are coming up in the next races. The fact that Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes and Aston Martin are so evenly matched promises a very interesting championship”, anticipated the man from Oviedo.
“It was a difficult start to a grand prix,” Verstappen commented. “It was difficult for me to find the rhythm, but in qualifying we were able to get the best out of the car. We have a good car, which normally performs better on Sundays”, the current champion delved into. “Little by little I progressed as the sessions went by until I reached fourth place, which is not where we want to be,” said Sainz. “For how we were yesterday [por el viernes] We are satisfied. In the race we will have to suffer a little more because we already know that the Ferrari degrades the tires a little more than our rivals”, stressed the man from Madrid.
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