Charles Leclerc claims pole position ahead of the season opener at the Bahrain International Circuit


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The Monegasque driver set a blistering 1:30.558 lap time to outqualify reigning champion Max Verstappen and Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz.

Ferrari were on the pace throughout all three qualifying sessions and have proved early on that they are back to competing at the top.


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The two AlphaTauri and Williams drivers were out onto the Bahrain International Circuit first as the Q1 session got underway.

Yuki Tsunoda completed the first competitive time run and set a 1:33.581, five-tenths slower than his teammate Pierre Gasly who crossed the line moments later.

McLaren’s Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo went second and fourth fastest as the Woking-based outfit’s struggles continued as they were way off the pace.

It was no surprise to see Max Verstappen setting the first lap time in the 1:31s as the Dutchman sprung to the top of the timing sheets.

On his return to Formula 1, Kevin Magnussen momentarily set the second-quickest time of the session with his Haas teammate, Mick Schumacher moving up to fourth.

Valtteri Bottas then went second fastest before the two Ferrari’s of Leclerc and Sainz claimed first and second place.

Mercedes were only able to go fifth and eighth fastest as their car continued to look very unstable and unable to challenge for pole.

At the end of Q1, it was Leclerc and Sainz in first and second with the Red Bull of Verstappen in third. The drivers eliminated from the session were Yuki Tsunoda, Nico Hulkenberg, Daniel Ricciardo, Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi.


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Alex Albon was the first driver out on track in Q2 as he was the only Williams left in the running following Latifi’s elimination.

With that being said, the Thai/British driver did not set a competitive lap time and returned back to the pits after one lap on used tyres.

Magnussen set the first lap time of the session with a 1:31.461, five-tenths quicker than Schumacher. The Haas drivers quickly dropped down the order as Verstappen entered the 1:30s and claimed the top spot.

Leclerc could only muster a lap to go second fastest, half a second slower than quickest man Verstappen and a couple of hundredths quicker than Sergio Perez in third.

The Red Bull man held onto first place at the end of the session with Sainz leapfrogging his teammate Leclerc as the Ferrari duo finished second and third.

The drivers eliminated from Q2 were Esteban Ocon, Mick Schumacher, Lando Norris, Alex Albon and Guanyu Zhou.


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As the top 10 shootout got underway, the two Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell were out on track first as they looked to set the early pace.

The latter crossed the line first and set a 1:32.291 on used tyres. Hamilton followed suit and went a tenth quicker than his teammate, however, those lap times were blown out of the park by the ‘Prancing Horses’.

Ferrari’s Sainz went over a second quicker than the seven-time world champion to claim provisional pole with Leclerc closely behind in second.

The Spaniard was denied pole position however as Leclerc set a 1:30.558 to claim P1 ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Verstappen moved up to second dropping Sainz onto the second row of the grid where he will be joined by Perez. Old teammates will lineup on row three with Hamilton in fifth and Bottas in sixth. Magnussen on his return to the sport will start from seventh ahead of Fernando Alonso in eighth, Russell in ninth and Pierre Gasly in 10th.

What’s Next?

Charles Leclerc will be hoping to convert pole position into a race victory and claim Ferrari’s first win since the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix.

It will not be an easy task with the rapid Red Bull of Max Verstappen alongside him and the determined Lewis Hamilton starting from fifth.


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