Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner was full of praise for his team as Max Verstappen took the first pole position of the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship from the Sakhir International Circuit in Bahrain.
It is the first time Red Bull have taken the first pole of the season since 2013, ending Mercedes Petronas AMG Racing Team seven year run of opening round pole positions. Not only this but it is also the first time a Honda powered car will start on pole since Ayrton Senna in 1991, a historic day for Honda and Red Bull.
It wasn’t all bright and sunny for the team though, as debutant Sergio Pérez failed to make it to Qualifying 3, only managing eleventh place after running wide at turn thirteen on his flying lap. The Mexican driver does have free tyre choice tomorrow, however some will already be left wondering if the curse of the second Red Bull seat is still present in the team.
Nothing can take away the performance of Max Verstappen, the Dutchman has dominated proceedings all weekend and was favourite for the pole, which he successfully delivered with a sensational 1:28.997, almost 0.4 seconds clear of second place Lewis Hamilton.
There is still clearly work to do for Red Bull but overall Christian Horner couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season, although Mercedes are still an immense threat. Are we set for a new edition of the duel in the desert? Horner expects a tough challenge tomorrow.
“It’s fantastic to start the season this way, our first pole at the opening round since 2013 and Honda’s first since Senna in 1991. You never really know where you are at the first race of the year when the fuel comes out and the engine modes are turned up,” said Horner.
“It was nip and tuck in Q2 and it looked like Mercedes had a small advantage on the medium tyre but then Max came back on the softs. Sergio was unfortunate to just miss out on making it through to Q3.
“He’s got a huge amount of maturity and experience and he’s adapting well. He’s only had 1.5 days of testing and everything is very new for him in terms of how the car feels, but he will be competitive in the race tomorrow and should not be counted out.”
“The whole Team worked tremendously hard over the winter to put us in this position and Honda and ExxonMobil have also done a stellar job for us.
“Tomorrow is going to be very tight and Mercedes have turned it up, everyone wrote them off two weeks ago and they’re right up there as we expected. It will be a massive challenge for us to beat them but we’re starting from the best possible place.”