29 Nov 2020

RELAXED HAMILTON MAKES IT BUSINESS AS USUAL IN BAHRAIN QUALIFYING

At the qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix, the talk up and down the pitlane was as much about tyres as it was about times.

Criticism of the tyres from the drivers was rife following Friday practice. The teams had agreed to run the 2021 spec tyres provided by Pirelli. The session gave the teams a chance to step into the future and gather vital data for next seasons preparations. Lewis Hamilton was particularly vocal stating that Pirelli “…have had two years to develop a better tyre and they’ve arrived with a tyre that is three kilos heavier per set and is a second worse.”

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was equally scathing adding, “I’ll be surprised if anyone likes them…They are quite a lot worse compared to the tyres we currently run.”

Pirelli’s response to the criticism was that they were “happy with the product…” and that they had focused on the tyres improved structural integrity, hence the additional weight. The tyre supplier added that the new construction would allow them to reduce pressures and retain grip.

McLaren’s Carlos Sainz responded saying that “they had expressed their concerns to the FIA and would continue talks with the governing body and Pirelli to find a solution.

It’s no secret that drivers and engineers alike feel the overheating issues of the current Pirelli offering is affecting the quality of racing when drivers are having to focus on tyre management rather than pushing hard to race. There are those that feel that Pirelli has taken too long to resolve this and its now causing frustration between the teams and the tyre manufacturer.

Lewis Hamilton meanwhile arrived in Bahrain with an air of accomplishment about him. He looked relaxed and calm having wrapped up his seventh driver’s world championship in Istanbul two weeks prior. He said, “With the pressure off, it’s a lot more enjoyable.”

However, this demeanour couldn’t be confused with complacency. Back in the car he was as motivated as if it was the first qualifying session of the season.

With one eye on achieving 100 pole positions, Hamilton’s 98th career pole and 10th of the season was achieved without drama beating his teammate Valtteri Bottas into P2 by a quarter of a second.

Red Bull proved yet again to be the best of the rest with Max Verstappen taking P3 and his teammate Alex Albon 0.6secs behind in P4. Albon has a huge point to prove this weekend have crashed heavily in Friday practice and questions being asked about his Red Bull future. Those questions were not helped with Sergio Perez, a possible replacement for Albon next season, in P5 less than 0.1secs behind.

The Renault duo of Ricciardo and Ocon took P6 and P7 respectively with Pierre Gasly in P8 and Lando Norris in P9. Danny Kvyat put in another solid performance in P10.

Bottas said: “It felt good. That’s the problem when it feels good and it feels like you are extracting the best from the car and the lap time is not there.”

Verstappen described his lap as “quite decent”, adding: “I just lacked a bit of rear grip.”

While Racing Point, McLaren, Renault, and Ferrari, all vie for third place in the constructor’s championship, it was another uncompetitive display for the Scuderia whose drivers both failed to get into Q3 having to settle for P11 and P12.

HOW THE GRID SHAPES UP 

  1. Hamilton – Mercedes 1:27.264
  2. Bottas – Mercedes 1:27.553
  3. Verstappen – Red Bull 1:27.678
  4. Albon – Red Bull 1:28.274
  5. Pérez – Racing Point 1:28.322
  6. Ricciardo – Renault 1:28.417
  7. Ocon – Renault 1:28.419
  8. Gasly – AlphaTauri 1:28.448
  9. Norris – McLaren 1:28.542
  10. Kvyat – AlphaTauri 1:28.618
  11. Vettel – Ferrari 1:29.149
  12. Leclerc – Ferrari 1:29.165
  13. Stroll – Racing Point 1:29.557
  14. Russell – Williams 1:31.218
  15. Sainz Jr. – McLaren DNF
  16. Giovinazzi – Alfa Romeo 1:29.491
  17. Räikkönen – Alfa Romeo 1:29.810
  18. Magnussen – Haas 1:30.111
  19. Grosjean – Haas 1:30.138
  20. Latifi – Williams 1:30.182

JDC is looking forward to welcoming everyone back to Formula 1 in 2021 for what is expected to be a very exciting and closely run season. If you’d like to experience any of the races on the 2021 calendar, then take a look at our Paddock Club™ hospitality packages or contact JDC Promotions and let us build a bespoke package for you and your guests.

Avatar

ianhucklesby

Editor-in-Residence, JDC Promotions Media Centre