After an FP3 session in unrepresentative daylight conditions, the season truly got underway with the evening’s Qualifying.
Qualifying began with a headwind into Turn One, which was catching drivers out early in the session, but Lance was able to make a promising start in Q1.
Heading out a new set of Softs within minutes of the session going green, the Canadian was able to set an early lap of 1.31.803 for ninth.
There was time for a second run in Q1 and Lance was able to narrowly get out before a rival spun at Turn One and affected several drivers’ bids for an improved lap.
Taking advantage of a relatively clear track, Lance was able to find further time on a second set of new Softs and his 1.31.261 lap time was enough for 12th.
Lance would again get out early to begin Q2 and demonstrate his top 10 potential, with a first benchmark on new Softs good enough for 10th.
Temperatures were now beginning to drop and lap times began to fall as Lance returned to the garage in order to prepare for his second run.
He returned with just three minutes on the clock, allowing time for one final push lap, and Lance’s 1.30.624 lap time was a strong effort.
Despite several drivers taking advantage of even cooler conditions and a grippier track, Lance’s time held up for a Q3 place.
For Q3, Lance’s tyre strategy allowed him just one run. He would wait until the midpoint of the session to head out, falling between busy spells on the track to take advantage of clean air.
His eventual effort of 1.30.601 would initially place him in sixth before his rival’s second runs pushed him down the order and into 10th.
"It was a good fight out there today and it is clear that the midfield has become even closer this year because a lost tenth or two will put you in Q2. The AMR21 felt good, but we have got plenty of work ahead to keep improving and to try and push back towards the top end of Q3.
"I am really excited to get going for tomorrow’s race because the first race is always a little bit unpredictable and exciting. We are starting inside the top 10 and with a good start, strong tyre management and well executed strategy, we can target some good points tomorrow. We just need to go away tonight, get our heads down, and keep on improving our understanding of the car."
Sebastian continued to grow in confidence in the AMR21, using the unrepresentative FP3 session to help him become more comfortable behind the wheel.
Heading into Q1 with confidence, Sebastian’s qualifying session was hampered by errors from his rivals.
Sebastian followed a rival down the long straight into Turn One and a spin by a Haas in front caused the yellow flags to fly in sector one, costing him several tenths. His lap was again impacted further later on by a Ferrari, leading to another set of yellow flags.
Having lost a significant amount of time, Sebastian was only able to lap in 1.32.056 on a set of new Soft tyres.
While 18th on the grid is a setback, Sebastian has the benefit of a free tyre choice and the Bahrain International Circuit is conducive to overtaking, meaning it’s all to play for in tomorrow’s Grand Prix.
"I think it is fair to say the result today is disappointing and not what we wanted. My first lap in Q1 had quite a bit of margin for improvement, but on my second run there were two yellow flags, which made it impossible to progress to Q2.
"There was a yellow flag at turn one and one later in the lap too. I was just unlucky with my position on the track. On a positive note, the car felt better in qualifying and all the work we have done since testing is taking us in a good direction, so we have the potential to be faster.
"Even though we are not starting where we want to be, it is tomorrow that counts. Our job is to maximise all the opportunities and see what happens."
Otmar Szafnauer, CEO & Team Principal:
"Lance performed well and did a good job to make it into Q3 today, while Sebastian’s result was out of his hands to a large extent. In Q3, our tyre strategy meant Lance was only able to run once, but 10th on the grid leaves him well placed for tomorrow and he will be in the hunt for points.
"Sebastian was unfortunate to come across two yellow flags on his final push lap, which ultimately cost him a place in Q2. Overtaking is possible here so we will try our best to use strategy to help Sebastian fight his way through the field tomorrow."
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