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ICYMI F1 2021 Season opener Bahrain GP: Verstappen humbles Mercedes

Writer David King covers the ICYMI F1 season opener live.

8 mins read

16:17
I’ll sign off with a belter of a photo as Max makes sure Coulthard doesn’t miss out on the taste of a birthday cake having turned 50 today.
Race starts tomorrow at 4pm. Join me here on Brig for all the action in what promises to be a proper battle for the title this year.

16:15
Frustrated third placed Bottas said:

“The session this morning wasn’t easy and we had a couple of issues.
“This evening was a bit better, but we’re not quite where we want to be – hopefully we can improve a little for tomorrow”.

16:12
The reigning seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton had this to say:

“Congratulations to Max, so fast on that last lap!
“I absolutely gave it everything I had, but unfortunately it wasn’t good enough. There’s always more, but it was the best I could do, I got everything I could from the car”.

16:10
A happy Verstappen talks to the birthday boy Coulthard after weigh-in:

“Of course we already had a great test week. There are no guarantees coming to the first race weekend but the whole week so far the car has been working really well and it’s just been really enjoyable to drive.
“It all worked out perfectly in qualifying so of course I’m very happy with pole position”.

16:05

1NetherlandsMax Verstappen33Red Bull1:30.4991:30.3181:28.997
2Great BritainLewis Hamilton44Mercedes1:30.6171:30.0851:29.385
3FinlandValtteri Bottas77Mercedes1:31.2001:30.1861:29.586
4MonacoCharles Leclerc16Ferrari1:30.6911:30.0101:29.678
5FrancePierre Gasly10AlphaTauri1:30.8481:30.5131:29.809
6AustraliaDaniel Ricciardo3McLaren1:30.7951:30.2221:29.927
7Great BritainLando Norris4McLaren1:30.9021:30.0991:29.974
8SpainCarlos Sainz Jnr55Ferrari1:31.6531:30.0091:30.215
9SpainFernando Alonso14Alpine1:30.8631:30.5951:30.249
10CanadaLance Stroll18Aston Martin1:31.2611:30.6241:30.601

16:03
It’s not over. Verstappen is yet again without a wingman whilst he is flanked behind by both Mercedes.
Tomorrow should be a cracker, and I cant wait for it.

16:02
Damage? What damage? The only damage I see is to Mercedes dominance.
Three purple sectors on his way to a pole over Hamilton by FOUR tenths of a second.

16:00
Verstappen Blows it out of the water!

15:59
Bottas crosses the line first. He’s trying to get in front of Gasly in 3rd going to the flag here.
Hamilton and Verstappen are trading blows as they battle this pole out.

15:57
Final runs coming up. This is as tense and exciting a final qualifying as we’ve had for a long time.

15:53
0.023s between Verstappen and Hamilton with the former sneaking ahead.
Is it finally happening? Do we have a two team race for the title?

15:49
It’s showdown time, two World champions in the top ten as Alonso shows age is no barrier for him.
Can Verstappen beat the Mercedes to pole to deny them the front seat on opening day for the first time since 2013?

15:45
The more things change the more things stay the same. Vettel and Perez the big shocks over the opening sessions.
I’ll tell you what though, if this Alpha Tauri pace is genuine (given Gasly’s performance) throughout the season, Verstappen might not even need a rear gunner teammate. He’ll have two drivers in the sister team to watch his back.

15:43
Q2 Eliminations:

11Sergio Perez11Red Bull1:31.1651:30.659
12Antonio Giovinazzi99Alfa Romeo1:30.9981:30.708
13Yuki Tsunoda22AlphaTauri1:30.6071:31.203
14Kimi Raikkonen7Alfa Romeo1:31.5471:31.238
15George Russell63Williams1:31.3161:33.340

15:41
Erm, what? Sainz leads a Ferrari 1-2 at the end of Q2 (on softs but shhhh).
If you thought that was a shocker, Perez is out of Qualifying, the cursed 2nd seat of Red Bull strikes again.

15:36
Four minutes to go. Yet again, Perez and Ricciardo need a belter of a lap here as they are both at the bottom of the pack having ran wide and lost their lap times. Both Alpha Romeo’s and Russell round out the elimination zone for the session so far.

15:31
Sandbags at dusk? Lewis Hamilton has just taken P1 in this session by nearly a quarter of a second over Verstappen.
Either Mercedes came flying out no holds barred or Verstappen has really damaged that floor in Q1.

15:28
No time to breathe as Q2 is under way already. Verstappen running with floor damage may bring Mercedes back to them in what promises to be an almighty dual for pole.

15:24
OUT IN Q1:

16Esteban Ocon31Alpine1:31.724
17Nicholas Latifi6Williams1:31.936
18Sebastian Vettel5Aston Martin1:32.056
19Mick Schumacher47Haas1:32.449
20Nikita Mazepin9Haas1:33.273

15:22
Mass investigations after Qualifying as there were yellow flags out on track. I thought it was because of the spinning Mazepin in the Hass at turn one, but Sainz had stopped in sector two as well. Could be a mess after the end of this session.

15:20
Is it 2020 or 2021? Vettel out in Q1 and Russell through to Q2. I’ve seen this story before.

15:14
Only four minutes left of the session. Currently we have Ocon, both Williams and both Haas in the drop zone.

15:11
Wow, OK, the Honda engine has clearly taken a step forward as Yuki the rookie (Tsunoda) firmly plants his Alpha Tauri in 2nd place ahead of both Mercedes and only a tenth behind Verstappen in the lead team

15:06
The whole field pours out onto the track at the same time. Lando Norris is the first of the top teams to take to the circuit in anger.

15:03
We have a new old name at the top of the time sheets for the first time in years. Yup, it’s Schumacher in the Hass, who sets the first time of the session.

14:58
New faces, new names, new teammates and even a new team.
The new/old dog of Alonso is back, this time for the newly rebranded Alpine team from the ashes of the Renault works team.
Racing point becomes Aston Martin, with Vettel trying to put his Ferrari nightmare behind him.
Carlos Sainz takes up the German’s seat at Ferrari.
Meanwhile Dani Ricciardo goes to Mclaren.
Oh and we can’t forget the famous name of Schumacher is back on the grid. Young Mick’s father has won half of the titles the whole current grid has.

14:55
HERE WE GO!

Welcome back to Brig’s Formula one coverage. It’s a new season, there are new cars (kinda), and it’s a new chance for someone to try to dethrone Lewis Hamilton.

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