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Bahrain GP: Qualifying team notes - Pirelli

NEWS STORY
04/03/2023

Max Verstappen has claimed pole for the first race of the 2023 Formula 1 season. The Red Bull driver will line up first on the grid for the Bahrain Grand Prix, thanks to a time of 1m29.708s set on the P Zero Red soft C3 tyres.

Track temperature during qualifying, which got underway at 18:00 local time, was 28C. This was 13 degrees cooler than the afternoon FP3 session, which began at 14:30 (half an hour earlier than last year) with an asphalt temperature of 41C and a 20kph wind.

The times in FP3 were very close, with the soft tyre mainly used. Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso was quickest with a 1m32.340s. Red Bull drivers Verstappen and Sergio Perez were just five and six thousandths of a second behind respectively.

The first Pirelli Pole Position Award of the 2023 season was given by Pirelli's Head of Motorsport Mario Isola, with the Italian firm having introduced an all-new compound to Formula 1 this year - nominated for tomorrow's Bahrain Grand Prix as the P Zero White hard. Pirelli begins its 13th consecutive season as Global Tyre Partner to Formula 1 in 2023, with Mario having been at every race apart from one since Pirelli started its Formula 1 campaign in 2011.

The Bahrain Grand Prix should be a two-stop race, as was the case in previous years. On paper, the fastest strategy is to start on soft and then move onto the P Zero White hard C1. Depending on which tyres each driver has available, there's then the option to fit either another soft or another hard for the run to the flag. Finishing on the soft is theoretically a bit faster overall.

For those wanting to use the P Zero Yellow medium C2, a soft-medium-soft or soft-hard-medium run plan is another possibility; but these options are slower. The fierce abrasion of the Sakhir asphalt makes a one-stopper extremely difficult due to the high levels of degradation.

Mario Isola, Head of Motorsport: "As we fully expected, the majority of teams used the soft tyre in FP3 to prepare for qualifying, Red Bull was the only team to use the hard as well, without compromising the availability of this compound for the race - as each driver has two sets available. The new hard is sure to be a key to the race tomorrow. Qualifying was run entirely on the soft, given the performance gaps between the compounds, with Verstappen beating last year's pole time from Charles Leclerc. The fact that this year's pole was around eight-tenths faster, in similar conditions, underlines the increased performance of the 2023 car-tyre package."

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