Today’s the day. The sandbags have been released, and Formula One cars have taken to the track to show their stuff at the very first race of the 2021 season. And we’ve started off the season with Max Verstappen proving his Red Bull Racing machine truly did have the pace to take the coveted pole position.
Most teams waited until the first five minutes of the session had passed before sending drivers out, but a handful of the youngsters made it out at the start. George Russell of Williams was one of the first drivers on the track but didn’t set a time. Haas driver Nikita Mazepin spun before he was able to set a time.
One of the highlights of the session was rookie Yuki Tsunoda in the AlphaTauri. He held second place for quite a while, a result of his dynamic driving style. He’s a fascinating driver to watch—even if the team may not be able to compete for wins, it’s going to be a hell of a lot of fun to watch Tsunoda.
Mazepin spun again right at the end of the session, bringing out a yellow flag in sector two that impacted final lap times. Carlos Sainz Jr. in his Ferrari also brought out a yellow flag, which brought out investigations about the folks who set their fast laps during the yellow.
Max Verstappen and Tsunoda topped the session.
16. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
17. Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
18. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin)
19. Mick Schumacher (Haas)
20. Nikita Mazepin (Haas)
As the second qualifying session kicked off, most everyone headed out to the track right away, making for a rightly packed session. As a reminder for anyone tuning in for the first time, the tires a team qualifies on in the second session are the ones they have to use at the start of the race if they make it into the final session. So this session is generally a little more strategic.
The Mercedes team took to the top of the charts once again, although there was some speculation that Verstappen’s Red Bull sustained a little damage in the first session. Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr. surprised everyone at the end of the session by nabbing the top two spots. It was likely the result of the team’s choice to take on the faster soft tires.
11. Sergio Perez (Red Bull Racing)
12. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)
13. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)
14. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
15. George Russell (Williams)
The final session proved to be an exciting one, with Verstappen’s Red Bull and Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes sticking to each other at the top of the charts, proving that Red Bull’s pre-season testing pace was no fluke. It was Verstappen who finally took pole position.
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing)
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
- Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
- Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
- Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)
- Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)
- Lando Norris (McLaren)
- Carlos Sainz Jr. (Ferrari)
- Fernando Alonso (Alpine)
- Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)