Verstappen picks up where he left off

Max Verstappen picked up the 33rd pole position of his career, carrying on where he left off at the end of 2023, in other words by outqualifying the rest of the field. The Red Bull driver was fastest in Q3 (1:29.179), 228 thousandths quicker than Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) and 306 better than George Russell (Mercedes). In actual fact, Leclerc set the quickest time of the session, posting a 1:29.165 in Q2.

Tonight’s pole time is a little over half a second better than last year’s 1:29.708 and is completely in line with the simulation results from yesterday.

The first Pirelli Pole Position Award of the season was presented to Verstappen by the German DJ and producer, Zedd, who is performing tonight at the Bahrain International Circuit. His work has achieved great global success, starting with his Grammy winning hit “Clarity” (ft. Foxes) and the singles “Stay the night (ft. Selena Gomez) with over 950 million streams and “Stay” (ft. Alessia Cara) with 4.2 billion streams.


As for the weather, the wind intensity gradually dropped today, which made life easier for the drivers on track. Temperatures were in line with those from yesterday, in other words, much cooler than last week.

In FP3, almost all the teams concentrated on the Soft compound, apart from Red Bull, with both of their drivers also using one set of Hard tyres, thus giving a pretty clear indication of what could be its strategy for tomorrow’s race. In fact, simulation shows that the two-stop route is the quickest one, with a combination of C1 and C3 and it’s clear the reigning world champion team, having just one new set of Hards left, will be looking to make the most of the Soft’s potential, as indeed was the case last year. The other teams chose not to use the Hard, presumably to save them for the race.

It was clear from the way qualifying played out how important was the preparation lap in order to get everything out of the tyres, especially in the first sector and that goes some way to explaining some of the lap time differences over the three sessions.


“A very interesting qualifying, in which the difference was in the detail. In Q1 we had 19 drivers all within the same second and in Q3 between the top nine the gap was just five tenths. In tenth place, Hulkenberg was the only driver not using new Softs because he had none left. The fact that Leclerc set the fastest time of the day, but is not on pole, is a further sign of just how close it was.

Therefore, tomorrow’s race looks like it’s going to be even more interesting. In terms of strategy, the two-stop is quickest on paper, with Hard and Soft the main protagonists. Of course, everyone will start on the Soft, but those like Red Bull, who only have one set of C1 will have to make their first pit stop between laps 13 and 18 to switch to this compound, before making a second stop between laps 37 and 43 to finish on another set of Soft tyres. Those making use of two sets of Hard would have to stop between laps 11 and 16 and then for a second time between laps 32 and 38.

A two-stop using all three available compounds is slower, but could be worth considering only if the track conditions evolve quicker than expected, as happened for example on the final day of last week’s test. More plausible however is a three stop strategy to make the most of the Soft’s potential, for example if the race was neutralised in its final stages.”


Founded in 1872, Pirelli is a company with deep Italian roots now recognised all over the world for its cutting-edge technology, capacity for innovation, and the quality of its products. Motorsport has always played an important part in Pirelli’s strategy, following the ‘race to road’ philosophy. The company has been engaged in motorsport for 117 years and today supplies tyres to more than 350 championships on both two and four wheels. Pirelli pays constant attention to the most efficient use of natural resources and energy, aiming to reach carbon neutrality by 2030.
Pirelli has been Global Tyre Partner of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship since 2011. The company also supplies championships including FIA Formula 2, FIA Formula 3, Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine, FIA World Rally Championship and GT World Challenge, alongside numerous national series.