QUALIFYING REPORT: 2018 Bahrain Grand Prix (Including Interviews)


QUALIFYING REPORT: 2018 Bahrain Grand Prix (Including Interviews)

Location: Bahrain

Grand Prix: Bahrain Grand Prix

Circuit: Bahrain International Circuit

Earlier in the day, we had FP3 followed by what matters the most ahead of the race – the 2018 Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying.

As expected, Ferrari looked strong, as they have done all weekend – we know it’s a track that suits the car and they didn’t have too much pressure facing them making things easier for the team overall.

A slight battle between the two Scuderia Ferrari drivers – Kimi Raikkonen topping the timesheets in FP3 whilst mechanics worked on Vettel’s car after an issue, however by the end of Qualifying – Sebastian Vettel had out-qualified his team-mate for pole position.

With Q1 being red-flagged due to Max Verstappen spinning and hitting the barrier – we had another surprise with Pierre Gasly who got through to Q3 (we mentioned a surprise from a team further back in the grid in this race prediction post and we also mentioned that tempers would be high) – qualifying in P6 and due to Lewis Hamilton’s five-place grid penalty, will be moving up into P5.

Let’s take a look at what drivers and teams had to say following qualifying.

FERRARI – 2018 Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying

Sebastian Vettel – P1 – 1:27.958

Kimi Raikkonen – P2 – 1:28.101


Sebastian Vettel: “I think we have a good base and the car is working. We have improved in our work on the car. In the beginning it’s always a bit difficult, but now everything is getting better. So, it was nice to keep the car alive.”

“I felt quite good from the start and made some progress during the session. I am very happy with the last laps I did, and also obviously with the result I got.”

“I was really glad to see how the car was responding today. We worked on the setup and tried different things. In Australia the track is tricky and bumpy, so it was difficult to change too much and draw any conclusions. But after the race and with the mileage we did, I think we understood the car better.”

“”It’s nice to see that we have built a very strong car and that today we are able to put it on the front row, beating everybody else. It’s been a great result that the whole team deserves. However, the ‘big day’ is tomorrow.”


Kimi Raikkonen: “My last run was far from perfect; there was traffic and we couldn’t improve. We did not give ourselves a proper chance to do the best we could.”

“The car had a lot of speed, but we did not take full advantage of that. I’m sure there was a lot more to come. Anyway, we start the race in a good position, so I’m a bit disappointed today but that’s how it goes..”

“Tomorrow is another day and we should have a good car; we hope for a better result. The key point will be tire management; it will be tricky for everybody.”

“We’ll try to make the best of it, and I’ll go as fast as I can.”

MERCEDES – 2018 Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying

Lewis Hamilton – P4 – 1:28.220 (Qualified in P4 but will start in P9)

Valtteri Bottas – P3 – 1:28.124


Lewis Hamilton: “Today wasn’t the best of days and tomorrow is going to be one of the hardest races for us in some time. We’ve been trying to get ahead of the Ferraris but it has been tough. They just had the pace all weekend.”

“It wasn’t the greatest laps from my side and Ferrari had the edge, as they often do in these hotter conditions. The goal for tomorrow is damage limitation.”

“I’ve got the soft tyre so I should be able to go longer – it’s going to be interesting to see, there’s a couple of different strategies tomorrow. I’ll try and eke out every last bit of power and strength from this car – I don’t know what we are going to be able to achieve tomorrow but I will give it everything I’ve got and hope that I can do something.”


Valtteri Bottas: “It’s disappointing not to be in the first row. We’ve made some good progress through the weekend but Ferrari was quicker today. We definitely have work to do at this type of circuits and in these kind of conditions.”

“I think we have the right set-up for the car for the race, it’s difficult to estimate these race pace and I think it’s going to be really closely matched between Ferrari, Red Bull and us so it should be an interesting race.”

“I learned a lot about tyre management last year at this track that I think I can use this year – we’ll definitely go for it tomorrow and hopefully Lewis can also come back to get some good points so we can keep the pressure on Ferrari.”

Toto Wolff: “This was a difficult qualifying session for us but about what we expected after practice yesterday and today. Ferrari have always been strong in the hot conditions and they confirmed that with their one-two in qualifying.”

“We have said through the winter that the performance between the top teams is very close and this result simply confirmed it – like always, we need to keep our feet on the ground, stay humble and keep working. There’s so much to play for tomorrow but it’s clear that from today, Ferrari will start as favourites.”

RED BULL RACING – 2018 Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying

Daniel Ricciardo – P5 – 1:28.398 (Will start in P4)

Max Verstappen – P15 – 1:29.374

Daniel Ricciardo: “That was really close. Part of me is disappointed that we are so close but still at the tail of the lead pack in Qualifying, but I don’t think I could really have done much better. Lewis was still a couple of tenths ahead of me.”

“There was maybe a tenth left on the table but I think the Mercedes still had some extra pace. It’s almost frustrating to be so close but actually it’s encouraging that the top five cars are within about four tenths.”

“I’m always excited for the race. Practice and Qualifying are ok but Sunday is my favourite day of the week.”

“Yesterday our race pace didn’t look bad but I think our car in FP2 wasn’t as good as it is now, so it’s encouraging to know that our car should be even better tomorrow and hopefully it puts us in the fight. We will start in fourth place now with Lewis’s penalty so I think it is going to be exciting.”

“Hopefully, in 24 hours we can do a pretty cool interview after a good race. I’m also pleased for Pierre, Toro Rosso and Honda today.”

“Not taking anything away from Pierre, but in my first year at Toro Rosso I also qualified sixth here and he has done the same. I can see him doing the interviews and he is super excited, so it’s good for the team and I’m happy for him.”


Max Verstappen: “I was very surprised at what happened in Q1 so I wanted to try and understand the cause before commenting on it. What we can see in the data is a sudden power increase, just like an on/off switch.”

“It looks like roughly 150 Horse Power was suddenly switched on during the corner which of course is not easy to anticipate, this caught me out and meant I lost the rear and spun.”

“The damage to the car was just the front left corner so we don’t have any major concerns for tomorrow. I was disappointed to crash not just because it ruined Qualifying but also as the car is looking very quick here so has made the job tomorrow hard. At least at this track you can overtake.”

“My race pace looks good so if I can have a clean first stint and get past a lot of cars it could still be an exciting race. You always need a bit of luck so a safety car to bunch up the field would help and make the race open again.”

“We have a quick car so that is always good, let’s see what I can do tomorrow.”

Christian Horner – Team Principal: “After a Qualifying session with plenty of action, it’s interesting to see the top five cars qualify within four tenths of each other. Daniel got the best out of the car today to finish in fifth, which will become fourth on the grid with the penalty for Lewis.”

“Max who was doing another lap in Q1 gathering information on engine settings unfortunately lost the rear, the reasons for which we will have to look at, but frustratingly it ended his Qualifying early.”

“However, the damage is superficial and hopefully from 15th on the grid he will put his head down and make some progress through the field as our race pace has looked encouraging here. It is set up to be an exciting race tomorrow.”

MCLAREN – 2018 Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying

Fernando Alonso – P13 – 1:30.212

Stoffel Vandoorne – P14 – 1:30.525


Fernando Alonso: ” Today wasn’t great – our qualifying performance was worse than we expected. It was okay in free practice, but then in qualifying we lost speed and we were struggling from Q1.”

“Our one-lap performance is not yet optimised – we cannot extract the maximum from the tyres over one lap, and we need to find the reasons why.”

Our race pace has been better than our pace over a single lap so far, and yesterday during the long runs on old tyres we felt quite competitive. This morning, too, on a hot track the car felt good and we seem to take good care of the rear tyres, which is going to be an advantage in the race. But, obviously our starting position is compromised already and we are quite far back, so we’ll see what we can do.”

“Having said that, not making it into Q3 isn’t the end of the world. We didn’t make it there in Australia either, but on Sunday we both scored points, so hopefully we can repeat that here.”

“This is a demanding circuit, tyre degradation is high and reliability is a concern, so we need to stay focussed and take advantage of the strategy. The free choice of tyres now gives us some advantage and we’ll try to maximise that. The race is tomorrow and that’s when the points are given.”


Stoffel Vandoorne: “We all expected a bit more from today. We had good sessions yesterday in FP1 and FP2 and I was feeling very confident in the car. We know we’re in this very compact midfield where every tenth is very important for us and makes all the difference, so we need to keep improving.”

“With a step forward today we could have fought for Q3, but we knew it was going to be tough. In these harsh conditions things can change quickly and it’s really unfortunate we couldn’t get there.”

“We didn’t make the step forward that we needed to today, so we need to keep pushing and there’s a lot of work to do. But, I think we can race tomorrow.”

“We had good pace during the long runs on Friday and the balance was pretty good. This is a circuit where strategy and tyres are quite complex, so there are some possibilities. We need to be opportunistic and, like in Melbourne, try to benefit from other people’s mistakes.”

“We have a free choice of tyres tomorrow, and I think around here it could be quite interesting. Tyre degradation has been key at this track in the past and there are a number of different strategies possible.”

“We’ve seen some good races here and that’s what we’re going after tomorrow.”

Eric Boullier –  McLaren Racing Director: “Although qualifying was the tough challenge that we predicted in what is an extremely tight midfield pack, our performance today was certainly below our expectations. Both drivers didn’t feel as comfortable or confident in the car as they were yesterday, which is something we need to analyse overnight with our engineers.”

“We recognise that the teams around us often make a performance step on Saturday and this is something we must address. However, we know that the race pace of our package tends to be more positive than our speed over one lap, and with a free choice of tyres we believe we can fight for points on Sunday.”

“Now, we’ll work hard to analyse all the data from today and put everything we can into setting up the cars, so that we can move further up the field in tomorrow’s race.”

TORO ROSSO – 2018 Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying

Pierre Gasly – P6 – 1:29.329

Brendon Hartley – P11 – 1:30.105


Pierre Gasly: “My best qualifying in Formula 1! It’s been an amazing day…the team has been working very hard since the beginning of the weekend and it’s good to see this effort repaid.”

“I felt really good in the car so I’m very happy. Since the first lap in FP1 I felt we were pretty fast, but we knew we had to put everything together to get into Q3 and we made it! It’s pretty mega!”

“Hopefully I can get the best start possible tomorrow – we saw in FP2 that our long run pace was good so let’s see!”

“Of course we expect the front runners like Hamilton and Verstappen to come back quickly, but I think we will be in the fight with Renault and Haas hopefully, so we need to work really hard tonight and make sure we have a car as fast as today and aim to score good points in the race.”


Brendon Hartley: “There’s a bit of déjà vu from Melbourne, I just missed out on Q2 there, and in Bahrain I just missed out on Q3!”

“We’ve definitely taken a step in the right direction as yesterday we were really on the back foot from our side of the garage. The team brought an update here which was actually worth a large amount of time.”

“It’s an amazing job from Toro Rosso to bring so much performance from the aero side to the track. I only got the new package for the first time today so I was a bit behind the eight ball but, at the end, I was very close to Q3 that I have to be happy anyway – I think everyone’s done a great job.”

“Unfortunately, I used three sets of tyres in the first part of qualifying – with hitting the bird and breaking my front wing. I don’t know how the bird is, but my front wing was destroyed!”

“It was really close today…it’s a shame I made a small mistake on the last corner!”

RENAULT – 2018 Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying

Nico Hulkenberg – P8 – 1:29.570

Carlos Sainz – P10 – 1:29.986


Nico Hulkenberg: “I would prefer to be fifth, but in Q3 things seemed to slip from our hands a little. My Q2 lap was wonderful, it was as good as it was going to get, but in Q3 it didn’t feel quite there.”

“I couldn’t repeat the lap time otherwise we’d be in fifth. I think we’ll start seventh and we have every chance for a good result from there tomorrow. Our race-pace was similar to our rivals, but our target is to beat them.”


Carlos Sainz: “I’ve been chasing car balance the whole weekend and I wasn’t fully comfortable with the car during qualifying, finding it difficult to put a perfect lap together tonight.”

“However, I’ve been happier with the long runs and there are a lot more possibilities during the race, especially with the tyre degradation that we’ve seen at the moment.”

“That opens up a lot more windows so we’ll be ready for it. I’m convinced we can move up the grid tomorrow and have a good one.”

The Formula 1 Girl 🙂

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