Verstappen qualifies fifth in Bahrain: 'Difficult qualifying'

Published on 30 March 2019 by Kees-Jan Koster

Max Verstappen qualified fifth for the Bahrain Grand Prix. Setting a time of 1:28.752, the Dutchman was only narrowly faster than Kevin Magnussen in P6 and eighth tenths slower than the man in pole, Charles Leclerc. The Ferrari driver sovereignly drove to his first pole of his formula 1 career. Teammate Sebastian Vettel ended in P2, in front of both Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

After the end of qualifying a dissatisfied Verstappen says: “Qualifying was very difficult. I am glad that I am starting from fifth position, because it could have been much worse.”

Max continues: “Beforehand I did not know what to expect from qualifying, because I did not know where we were at. I already struggled the whole weekend with the balance of my car and I am still not happy with it. That was the same in qualifying. We have tried all kinds of things, but did not find a solution. We have done the best we could, but we cannot be satisfied with what we have shown today.”

Despite a fifth place in qualifying, the race pace of the RB15 during free practice on Friday seemed to be alright: “That is right, but with the balance of today, I do not want to think of that yet”, says Max. “I am glad I am starting from P5. We will see tomorrow how the car responds. In some way we cannot get the soft tyres to work this weekend, so I hope that the medium compound is more competitive.”  Just after sunset, qualifying on the 5.412-meter-long circuit in Bahrain gets underway. Alexander Albon is the first driver to set a time on the clocks, while it takes a little while for the top teams to appear on track. In his first flying lap on soft tyres, Max Verstappen sets a time of 1:29.579, good for P6. Then Verstappen does not come out again and ends in P9, which brings him safely to Q2. Antonio Giovinazzi, Nico Hulkenberg and Lance Stroll drop out of Q1, as well as the troubled Williams drivers, George Russel and Robert Kubica, who end way behind in the last to places.

In Q2 Max sets a time of 1:29.143, putting him in fifth position behind Magnussen. After a second run for Verstappen, he marginally improves to 1:29.109. The seventh place is enough for him to go through to Q3. Aston Martin Red Bull Racing teammate Pierre Gasly does not do so well. The Frenchman does not get any further than P13. Also Daniel Ricciardo, Alexander Albon, Sergio Perez and Daniil Kvyat drop out of Q2.

At the beginning of Q3, engineers of Red Bull racing are still working on the RB15 of Max and he does not come out for the first run. In the meantime, Leclerc sets a top time. The Monegasque sets a time of 1:27.958, putting him on pole position for the time being. During the last minutes, all drivers come out on track for their last qualifying lap, including Verstappen. Max sets a 1:28.752 and ends in P5, only five thousandth of a second in front of Kevin Magnussen. Leclerc was able to improve his time and scores his first pole position in his still early Formula 1 career. Teammate Vettel ends second, three tenths behind Leclerc, and the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottos end in P3 and P4. Carlos Sainz, Romain Grosjean, Kimi Raikkonen and Lando Norris complete the top 10.

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Results qualifying Bahrain:

1Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:28.4951:28.0461:27.866
2Sebastian VettelVETFerrari1:28.7331:28.3561:28.160
3Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:29.2621:28.5781:28.190
4Valtteri BottasBOTMercedes1:29.4981:28.8301:28.256
5Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda1:29.5791:29.1091:28.752
6Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari1:29.5321:29.0171:28.757
7Carlos SainzSAIMcLaren Renault1:29.5281:29.0551:28.813
8Romain GrosjeanGROHaas Ferrari1:29.6881:29.2491:29.015
9Kimi RäikkönenRAIAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:29.9591:29.4711:29.022
10Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Renault1:29.3811:29.2581:29.043
11Daniel RicciardoRICRenault1:29.8591:29.488
12Alexander AlbonALBScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:29.5141:29.513
13Pierre GaslyGASRed Bull Racing Honda1:29.9001:29.526
14Sergio PerezPERRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:29.8931:29.756
15Daniil KvyatKVYScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:29.8761:29.854
16Antonio GiovinazziGIOAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:30.026
17Nico HulkenbergHULRenault1:30.034
18Lance StrollSTRRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:30.217
19George RussellRUSWilliams Mercedes1:31.759
20Robert KubicaKUBWilliams Mercedes1:31.799