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Verstappen qualifies in tenth: "A good result"

Published on 02 April 2016 by Stefan Meens

Max Verstappen will start the Bahrain Grand Prix from tenth on the grid, one place ahead of team mate Carlos Sainz. Both Toro Rossos will therefore have the option to choose the tyre compound ahead of the race. Pole position was once again for Mercedes with Lewis Hamilton beating Nico Rosberg to lock out the front row ahead of the two Ferraris.

“Of course you always want to be further up the grid but on this track it's a good result”, said Max to “It's not a track that suits our car that much so to be this close to Q3 is good. I also didn’t have enough tyres to go out for another lap. I would've liked to, but in the end we can be very happy with tenth. In Q2 it's always difficult to judge where you're going to end up. You would rather be ninth then eighth so we're pretty happy with today."

Ahead of the race, Max is clear: “We are definitely focusing on what's ahead of us, especially after Melbourne. We'll have to be careful with the tyres. But in general we focussed on the race a bit more anyway as we don’t have that many super softs compared to other teams. The new qualifying system didn’t really help us either. It's going to be a tough race. This morning I wanted to do a race simulation but I wasn’t able to complete it so we'll have to wait and see where we are.”

Despite the protest of many, the qualifying system was not reverted back to the 2015 model. Instead, the same set up that was used during the Australian Grand Prix a fortnight ago, awaits the drivers, teams and fans. Max comfortably sets a lap that gets him into Q3. The drivers that do not make the cut are both Renaults, Saubers and Manors. Despite the latter usually stranding in Q1, Manor's Pascal Wherlein does an impressive job by qualifying in P16. The biggest surprise of Q1 is Sergio Perez not making it through. The Force India driver is caught out by the new knock out format and finishes the session in P18.

The second part of qualifying does not get underway as planned. The light at the end of the pitlane will not jump to green. In the end the trusted green flag signals the drivers they are allowed on track, but a valuable minute of Q2 is lost.

Max sets a 1:31.722. An excellent time considering the Dutchman has only on set of super softs left and therefore only on shot at a representative timed lap. Initially Max looks set to take P9, but right at the end, Nico Hulkenberg moves up into the top eight meaning the Toro Rossos will start from tenth and eleventh.

The other drivers that do not make it into Q3 are Daniil Kvyat, Esteban Gutierrez and Stoffel Vandoorne, who out-qualified his experienced team mate Jenson Button.

Q3 does not provide the fans with much entertainment. Once again, al drivers finish their laps before the end of the sessions. Nevertheless it took Lewis Hamilton's final lap to snatch pole position from his team mate. The world champion made a mistake in his first run which meant the pressure was on during his second and final flying lap. In the end it is a Mercedes front row followed by the two Ferraris. Daniel Ricciardo qualified in an excellent fifth.

Bahrain Grand Prix - Bahrain International Circuit - Saturday 2 April

 P No Driver             Team          Q1         Q2         Q3          Laps
 1 44 Lewis Hamilton     Mercedes      1:31.391   1:30.039   1:29.493    14
 2  6 Nico Rosberg       Mercedes      1:31.325   1:30.535   1:29.570    13
 3  5 Sebastian Vettel   Ferrari       1:31.636   1:30.409   1:30.012    14
 4  7 Kimi Räikkönen     Ferrari       1:31.685   1:30.559   1:30.244    14
 5  3 Daniel Ricciardo   Red Bull      1:31.403   1:31.122   1:30.854    12
 6 77 Valtteri Bottas    Williams      1:31.672   1:30.931   1:31.153    12
 7 19 Felipe Massa       Williams      1:32.045   1:31.374   1:31.155    10
 8 27 Nico Hulkenberg    Force India   1:31.987   1:31.604   1:31.620    15
 9  8 Romain Grosjean    Haas          1:32.005   1:31.756                9
10 33 Max Verstappen     Toro Rosso    1:31.888   1:31.772                9
11 55 Carlos Sainz       Toro Rosso    1:31.716   1:31.816                9
12 47 Stoffel Vandoorne  McLaren       1:32.472   1:31.934                9
13 21 Esteban Gutierrez  Haas          1:32.118   1:31.945                9
14 22 Jenson Button      McLaren       1:31.976   1:31.998                9
15 26 Daniil Kvyat       Red Bull      1:32.559   1:32.241                9
16 94 Pascal Wehrlein    Manor         1:32.806                           6
17  9 Marcus Ericsson    Sauber        1:32.840                           6
18 11 Sergio Perez       Force India   1:32.911                           7
19 20 Kevin Magnussen    Renault       1:33.181                           3 
20 30 Jolyon Palmer      Renault       1:33.438                           6
21 88 Rio Haryanto       Manor         1:34.190                           3
22 12 Felipe Nasr        Sauber        1:34.388                           4 

Predict Max’ fastest lap to win an STR sweat jacket.