Even before the fourth qualifying session of the season got underway, the Toro Rosso crew knew it would be a tough afternoon, although Q3 was the target as always. Max Verstappen fought hard to claim 14th spot in Q1, thus making it through to the second part of proceedings. In the other STR10, Carlos Sainz was a more comfortable eleventh.
The lap time difference between the Medium and Soft tyres this evening was around 2 seconds, so everyone used the soft tyre to get through Q1 and again in Q2. Used softs were the choice for the first run in Q3 before fitting new ones for the final dash, which in Carlos’ case saw him secure ninth place, that sees him start from the inside of the fifth row of the grid with Romain Grosjean’s Lotus alongside him. It was a great performance from the Spaniard, which honesty exceeded his own expectations, after a difficult time in the final free practice hour earlier in the day. Max’s difficulties – too much understeer – meant his afternoon ended in Q2 and he had to settle for P15 on row 8, where he too has a Lotus next to him, that of Pastor Maldonado.
Theoretically, with the same Pirelli compounds as in China, once again a three stop strategy is fastest, but two visits to the pits is the most likely scenario tomorrow. While, as per the regulations, Carlos has to start on the set he used at the end of Q2, Max gets a free choice as he is outside the top ten.
With this being the nearest race to Europe since the F1 year got underway, Bahrain has been the scene of a “Full House” when it comes to our drivers’ families. While Jos Verstappen and the “senior” Carlos Sainz have accompanied their sons to all the races, here at the Sakhir track, there was a bigger turn-out with both our drivers’ mothers coming to see how their boys are getting on. Each of our drivers has a sister and they too made the trip to Bahrain. So it’s a family affair this week in Bahrain.