Six key points for the race

Bahrain Grand Prix: Six key points for the race

Max Verstappen on pole, Aston Martin and Nico Hülkenberg also strong in qualifying, Mercedes is hard on itself. Key topics ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix (Sunday, 4pm CET/Sky):


Max Verstappen had a lot with his Red Bull, he was still complaining about the lack of grip in the final practice session – and in qualifying the world champion once again sped away from everyone. Next to him on the starting grid is his teammate. Can it get any better? Yes! “We usually have our strengths in the race,” said Verstappen.


Charles Leclerc made only one attempt in the last qualifying segment to take pole position – and the experts were surprised. Team boss Fred Vasseur revealed the secret: “We made the decision at short notice to save a set of tires. Now we’re in a good position.” From third place on the grid, Leclerc should still go all the way to the front.


Fernando Alonso’s eyes light up. “We’re in a mix with Ferrari and Mercedes, that sounds unreal,” said the Spaniard after taking fifth place on the grid. Quite a few believed the old master in the enormously improved Aston Martin even more capable. But even from P5, Alonso was “our toughest opponent,” said Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko. And the doctor also thinks he knows the reason. “Some of our employees have switched to Aston Martin. Obviously they have a good memory,” he joked on Sky.


Mercedes Motorsport Director Toto Wolff is not in the mood for a joke. The concept of the racing car will no longer bring the team to the top in the long term, he says after starting positions six and seven for George Russell and Lewis Hamilton. The motto is: If necessary, lose short-term places if you end up at the top again in the long term. Hamilton, however, had feared even worse in qualifying: “I woke up this morning and thought we were further behind.”


Tenth starting position for the comeback, the first qualifying duel against Haas teammate Kevin Magnussen clearly – Nico Hülkenberg’s mood could hardly have been better. But the Rhinelander prepared himself for a tough Grand Prix: “We knew that we were fast on one lap. But in the race, the baked rolls are earned. That’s the real endurance test.”


The victory in Bahrain is only at first glance a really big hit – at least if you’re a fan of statistics. Because since 2017, the driver who won the first race of the season has “only” finished second in the World Championship. Should Fernando Alonso win, the Formula 1 history books would be rewritten: his last victory dates back to 2013. So far, the Italian Riccardo Patrese holds the record for the longest gap between two successes – with a mere six years. In addition, the 41-year-old Alonso can become a Grand Prix winner since 1970.

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