After the decision of the drivers going ahead with the weekend it was a big qualifying for teams to improve or be consistent from Round 1. Going into Qualifying, a lot was made of the Mercedes power along with their customer teams. That their power disadvantage would hurt them a lot going into this qualifying session. The increasing battle between Ferrari and Red Bull continued into this weekend.
In Q1 a red flag in the middle of the session caused by a Nicholas Latifi crash caused laps to be abandoned, however a few teams got their laps in and Latifi was okay.
The Ferrari's almost finished their laps, Carlos Sainz was only a couple of seconds away from the line until the red flag rendered the lap obsolete.
After the restart, Max Verstappen put in a good lap to go top but both Ferrari drivers topped that with Sainz going five tenths quicker than Verstappen with Charles Leclerc in-between them.
Lewis Hamilton after the restart put in a poor run with his time down in thirteenth.
Yuki Tsunoda seems to have had an issue with his car with a cooling related issue.
Hamilton seemingly struggling as he was down in the bottom five with only three minutes to go.
With the final runs of Q1, Alex Albon, Nico Hulkenberg, Nicholas Latifi and Lewis Hamilton all needing to improve their times to get out of Q1.
Hamilton went and set a lap only good enough for fifteenth, which meant the Mercedes driver was on the cusp of elimination. His fate was decided a few seconds later with Lance Stroll beating Hamilton's lap and putting him down into the bottom five in one of the shocks of the weekend. Behind Hamilton the drivers eliminated were Albon, Hulkenberg, Latifi and Tsunoda. Tsunoda being the only one who didn't set a lap time because of a cooling issue with his car.
This was Hamilton's first Q1 elimination since the Brazilian GP in 2017.
The first runs of Q2 seen Leclerc again put in a great lap being seven tenths ahead of Russell who contrary to Leclerc was on mediums. Sergio Perez had his lap give him good pace sitting
him just behind Leclerc, only four hundredths off.
Fernando Alonso put his Alpine up to fourth, two tenths up on the Mercedes.
Verstappen’s lap seen him with only six hundredths of a second gap to Leclerc and two hundredths off his team-mate.
The McLaren cars looked like they had more pace than in Bahrain, with Lando Norris up in eighth. His team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was only twelfth fastest after first runs but did impede Esteban Ocon who was on a flying lap, meaning he got a 3-place grid penalty.
Mick Schumacher had a big crash at turn 12 with five minutes to go, thus causing a red flag. Thankfully it was revealed that he was both conscious and physically okay which was great news considering the accident. Haas revealed later that Mick Schumacher would not be participating in the Said Arabian GP.
The final runs of Q2, seen Ocon go eighth fastest behind a great lap from Kevin Magnussen. Both drivers were pushed down a place because of Pierre Gasly who got himself into seventh.
Which meant the eliminated drivers were Stroll, Schumacher, Zhou, Ricciardo and Norris. Norris was three hundredths off Russell's time in the Mercedes who just scraped through Q2.
The first laps of Q3 seen the Ferrari's set the pace with Sainz going four hundredths quicker than Leclerc. Ocon and Alonso went third and fourth fastest, but only before Perez pushed them down a place by getting his red bull third. Gasly and Magnussen both being behind the Alpine cars as well.
Verstappen only went sixth fastest after his lap, having a couple of mistakes during the lap. Russell set his lap and went fifth, going in between the Alpine cars. Valtteri Bottas went sixth fastest just behind Russell.
Come the end of qualifying, Leclerc put in a fantastic lap to grab pole up until Perez put in an even better lap to get on pole for the first time in his career. Verstappen just couldn't get there and ended up fourth.
Russell got his Mercedes up to sixth, which may have been the best Mercedes could've done this time around. Ocon managed fifth, Alonso in seventh, Bottas in eighth, Gasly in ninth and Magnussen rounding out the top ten.
In a qualifying session where a lot happened, once again it is Red Bull vs Ferrari for the win. With Hamilton being in sixteenth, we could see an entertaining affair with the Mercedes possibly getting through some of the field. Can McLaren improve their pace in the race? Can Haas get another points finish? Either way questioned will be answered in what could be an interesting affair.