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Bahrain Grand Prix 2023

Winners and Losers from Bahrain GP Qualifying

The first qualifying session of F1 2023 is in the books, but who were the winners and losers from the action in Bahrain?

Hulkenberg Bahrain
To news overview © XPBimages

Rarely can a Formula 1 qualifying session have had as many eyeballs on it as it did during the action for the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix.

The mystic of a gladiator far too long removed from the white-hot action making his comeback, the Emperor having a shaky start to the season, the horse looking ready to stretch its legs and the Arrows looking to hit the target once again after inexplicably firing blanks for too long.

On the surface, not much would appear to have changed in Sakhir as Max Verstappen headed a Red Bull front-row lockout, with a healthy margin over Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc not on track after Ferrari took a strategy gamble at the end of Q3.

Here, RacingNews365 takes a look at the winners and losers of 2023 F1 Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying - and we start with the man who ended up in his familiar 'P1' slot on Saturday.

Winner - Max Verstappen and Red Bull

The expectation was that when the field headed out for Qualifying that the World Champion had a few tenths stored in his back pocket and could make a withdrawal when he so wished.

This was despite a Friday and Saturday morning filled with little niggling problems - nothing major but the type that Red Bull or Verstappen did not have in 2022.

In the end, pole was his by a comfortable 0.138s over Perez.

What did he say? "My whole weekend up until Qualifying was very difficult. I couldn't really find a comfortable balance that I had in testing, and I was just struggling a lot to just get the car together.

I went into Q1 and everything already felt a bit better. But it was still not, let's say, perfect. I'm very, very happy in Q3 that we could put these laps in. I still think it's not perfect [but heading] in a different direction."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Loser - Pierre Gasly

Much has been made of Pierre Gasly's switch to Alpine and allowing him the chance to spread his wings away from the Red Bull camp.

It could not have got off to a worse start if he tried.

Not only was he out-qualified by teammate Esteban Ocon, but his Q1 time was deleted for exceeding track limits.

It demoted him to 20th and last. At least the only way is up for the Frenchman.

What did he say? "Clearly this is not the start to the season we wanted being knocked out in Q1, but that said, it means we have everything to gain for tomorrow's race."

Winner - Aston Martin

Tickets are selling out fast to board the Fernando Alonso and Aston Martin hype train.

Although the package did not quite have enough to overhaul the Red Bulls and Ferraris, fifth on the grid on merit is an astonishing achievement for a team who looked very lost this time last year.

Alonso will do what he does best, cause mischief and be a nuisance, but it finally looks like he has moved to a team at the right time after a catalogue of previous failed ones.

As for Stroll, eighth after his past couple of weeks is another fantastic effort, especially as he ended only 0.5s behind a fully fit and firing Alonso.

What did Alonso say? "It was amazing. I mean, the whole weekend has been unreal for us. It was like too good to be true every session and then in qualifying, our expectation was to be around half-a-second from Red Bull.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Losers - Mercedes and Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton said the team had a mountain to climb after he drove the W14 for the first time as Mercedes were being nipped on the heels by Aston Martin.

The three practice sessions attested to that as the team looked adrift, but a turnaround in Qualifying had them in the hunt.

However, they are still exploring other concepts for the W14 and firmly look like a team in transition from the all-conquering steamroller of a few years ago.

Despite this, the seven-time champion described the car as "average" while teammate George Russell was more enthusiastic after out-qualifying his teammate yet again, leading the Mercedes result of P6 & P7.

What did they say? Russell: "We had a really tough Friday and we expected to add a bit of performance overnight. But the performance we added probably exceeded expectations."

Hamilton: "When we got to qualifying, the car just didn't come alive. It felt kind of average.

"A six tenths [gap on a single lap], you can't catch that. We were about six tenths behind last year, but we had all the bouncing and all sorts of things, so it's not impossible."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Winner - Nico Hulkenberg

This was why Mick Schumacher was booted out the second seat at Haas and Nico Hulkenberg given the tenancy agreement for it.

With Kevin Magnussen out in Q1, Hulkenberg guided the Haas into Q3, and will start 10th.

In 2022, Schumacher got into Q3 four times in 22 races and took him until Spain to do it for the first time. Hulkenberg has one from one.

It is what Hulkenberg does and fully vindicates Guenther Steiner's choice to replace one German for the other.

What did he say? "I was pretty happy how I was able to produce and deliver the laps. We saw already [on Friday] how over one lap we're in a decent spot and quite competitive."

F1 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix RN365 News dossier


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