Leclerc scores his maiden pole position in Bahrain

Ferrari’s new signing Charles Leclerc claimed his first Formula 1 pole position in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix as Ferrari locked out the front row.

The 21-year-old put in a impressive performance in Q3, setting two fastest lap times which was good enough to score P1.

On his first run, Leclerc set a one minute, 27.958 seconds on the soft Pirelli tyres, which gave him the advantage over Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton while his Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel did not even set an initial run.

Leclerc then went out and improved to a one minute, 27.866 seconds on his second attempt, which was three-tenths faster than Vettel managed on his single Q3 run.

Hamilton lapped just 0.030 seconds slower than Vettel to take third spot, 0.066 seconds faster than Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen was best of the rest in fifth, but he faced a tough challenge from Haas driver Kevin Magnussen – who ended up just 0.005 seconds further behind.

Carlos Sainz Jr capped a strong qualifying session for McLaren with seventh, supported by team-mate Lando Norris who was also in Q3 and ended up tenth.

Romain Grosjean’s Haas and Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Raikkonen ended up between them in eighth and ninth respectively.

All drivers in the top ten set their fastest lap in Q2 on the soft Pirelli tyre, meaning they will start the race on those tyres.

Daniel Ricciardo was P11 for Renault after lapping just 0.017 seconds slower than Raikkonen in Q2.

The honey badger did not improve on his second run, meaning he was not able to improve on the position he claimed at the first attempt.

Toro Rosso’s Alex Albon was P12, just 0.042 seconds away from a place in Q1 despite only having one set of fresh softs for Q2, beating Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly.

Gasly failed to improve on his time from the first run, complaining over the radio that “I can’t put the throttle down, I don’t know why – it snaps everywhere”.

Sergio Perez only had one run on fresh softs in Q2, which was good enough for P14 ahead of Daniil Kvyat, who did not head out for a second run.

Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi was the fastest of those eliminated in Q1 in P16 after lapping just 0.067 seconds slower than team-mate Raikkonen.

Giovinazzi briefly lifted himself out of the drop zone with his pace on his second set of softs, only to be shuffled back down during a quick fire moments of late improvements – subsequently complaining that his front tyres were too cold.

Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg was the big casualty in Q1 after only improving by just over two tenths on his second run, which put him just ahead of Racing Point’s Lance Stroll.

George Russell prevailed in the battle of the Williams drivers in P19, just four-hundredths of a second faster than team-mate Robert Kubica after complaining over the radio that the “tyres were well out of the window”.

So congratulations to Charles Leclerc in achieving his maiden pole at only his second stint representing Ferrari. Hopefully this will be the first of many for the upcoming and exciting talent in Formula 1.

Qualifying positions, Bahrain Grand Prix:
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m27.866s
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m28.160s
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m28.190s
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m28.256s
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1m28.752s
6 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m28.757s
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1m28.813s
8 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m29.022s
9 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1m29.043s
10 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1m29.488s
11 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m29.015s
12 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso-Honda 1m29.513s
13 Pierre Gasly Red Bull-Honda 1m29.526s
14 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1m29.756s
15 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda 1m29.854s
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m30.026s
17 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m30.034s
18 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1m30.217s
19 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1m31.759s
20 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 1m31.799s

4 thoughts to “Leclerc scores his maiden pole position in Bahrain”

  1. Qualifying review as reported by

    Charles Leclerc became the second youngest pole-sitter of all time at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday, beating his team mate (and the youngest pole sitter of all time) Sebastian Vettel to secure a front-row lock-out for Ferrari.

    Leclerc established a new track record on his final lap for good measure, going around the Bahrain International Circuit in 1m 28.866s, 0.294s up on Vettel’s time.

    Behind the Ferrari duo came the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, the silver cars having at least managed to close what had looked to be a yawning gap to Ferrari throughout the free practice sessions in Bahrain, Hamilton ending up 0.324s off Leclerc’s headline time.

    Max Verstappen was fifth in the sole Red Bull to make it into Q3 – Pierre Gasly having dropped out in Q2 – with the Dutchman ahead of the Haas of Kevin Magnussen and the McLaren of Carlos Sainz.

    Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg had been lightning across the free practice sessions, going as high as P5 in FP2 as team mate Daniel Ricciardo struggled. But as qualifying got underway, it was ironically Ricciardo who dumped the German out in Q1 to create the biggest shock of the segment.

    Q1 nearly witnessed a nasty moment, meanwhile, as Lando Norris, on a hot lap in his McLaren, came across Romain Grosjean loitering on the corner. Norris had to jump on his brakes to avoid what could have been an almighty shunt with the Haas, with Grosjean duly called to the stewards after qualifying. Norris had to regroup and go again, but impressed to wind up P4, as Leclerc and Vettel continued to show Ferrari’s advantage, with Hamilton in P3 over seven-tenths down on Leclerc.

    As predicted, the Williams pair were the slowest runners in Q1, Russell ahead of Kubica in P19 and P20, with the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi in P16, Hulkenberg 17th and Lance Stroll in P18, as Racing Point continued to struggle.

    Pierre Gasly failed to make it into Q3 for the second race in a row, only managing 13th and complaining to the team of an issue with his throttle. He was out in Q2 with Daniel Ricciardo who, despite out-qualifying a team mate for the eighth time in eight appearances in Bahrain, couldn’t convert Renault’s apparent pace into a Q3 slot.

    Having shown good speed throughout the free practice sessions, both Toro Rossos fell in Q2, along with Sergio Perez, who still hasn’t made a Q3 appearance in Bahrain since 2014.

    Happier would have been the McLaren pair of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris, as they gave the team their first double-Q3 appearance since Malaysia 2017 – Sainz in P6 and Norris in P9 in the segment – while Kimi Raikkonen got Alfa Romeo into Q3 here for the first time since 2012 (when they were Sauber).

    Leclerc was once again fastest in the segment, with Vettel second, ahead of the Mercedes pairing of Hamilton and Bottas, with Magnussen and Sainz both ahead of the Red Bull of Max Verstappen.

    As Q3 got underway, one driver absent from the initial part of running was Sebastian Vettel, the German needing to sit out the first set of laps to save tyres. That left team mate Leclerc to once again head the times after the first runs, the Monegasque matching to the thousandth of a second Vettel’s record-breaking pole time from 2018.

    When Vettel did finally make it out, however, he appeared to lack the confidence of his team mate in his solitary run, going cautiously through Turn 1 and Turn 10 particularly. Behind him, though, Leclerc was lapping even faster on his second run – and as Vettel popped himself into P2 and ahead of Hamilton, Leclerc improved his time to establish a new track record and claim his first-ever pole position in just his second race for Ferrari.

    The two Mercedes of Hamilton and Bottas were third and fourth, but would have been pleased to close down the gap to Ferrari to within four-tenths of a second – especially given their apparent advantage on long-run pace.

    Haas, meanwhile, witnessed Kevin Magnussen get to within 0.005s of Max Verstappen’s time for Red Bull, the Dane leading the midfield by around half a tenth from the McLaren of Carlos Sainz, ahead of Grosjean, Kimi Raikkonen in the Alfa Romeo, with the second McLaren of Norris rounding out the top 10.

  2. Sebastian Vettel reckons he and Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc “need to work as a team” at the start of Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix, after qualifying one-two on the grid.

    Leclerc beat his four-time world champion teammate by almost three tenths of a second in qualifying at the Sakhir circuit to claim his maiden pole position in F1.

    Ferrari suggested pre-season it would favour Vettel in the world championship and issued a team order for its drivers to hold position in fourth and fifth in the final stages of the Australian GP.

    When asked to clarify the team orders situation at Ferrari, and whether the drivers are allowed to race each other, team boss Mattia Binotto said: “Charles is allowed to go as fast as he can. He’s allowed to go for pole, he’s allowed to stay ahead. We are not stopping him doing that.

    “I think it is important that our two drivers are not fighting and taking any risks battling together.”

    Asked by how they would approach the first corner in Bahrain given Ferrari’s rules of engagement, both drivers agreed the need to work with rather than against each other.

    “We have a very, very tough race ahead of us tomorrow,” Vettel said. “We need to work as a team and try to make sure we stay first and second.

    “We’ll see how it goes. I think it is pretty clear, Charles starts ahead. He has the advantage of pole position.”

    Leclerc said: “To be completely honest we haven’t done the pre-race meeting yet, so at the moment I don’t know – if you ask me I will do absolutely everything to keep my first place but, as you say, we’re a team also and we need to work together.”

    After qualifying seven tenths off Mercedes in Melbourne Ferrari was three tenths clear in Bahrain and Vettel paid tribute to his team’s hard work in facilitating the turnaround.

    “We are both much happier with the car this weekend,” Vettel said.

    “The credit really goes to the team because it is a team effort – both of us didn’t feel happy with the car in Melbourne, and team did very, very hard work trying to understand why.

    “We had some answers coming here proving today we are capable of running at the front and fighting for pole, locking out the front row for Ferrari.

    “It is a great testament of their work.”

    Binotto added: “I will not go into the details. I think what was important was the team remained united, concentrated, we worked all together. So, merit to the team.”

    Leclerc was pleased to rectify his Melbourne mistake of failing to string his three best sectors together in Q3 and Binotto praised his young driver’s efforts in securing pole.

    “He’s a good kid, and being a good kid, we will love him, as we love Sebastian,” Binotto said. “It’s great for the team, it’s great for him. It will not be his last one.”


  3. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton believes Ferrari has “significant” straightline edge in Bahrain. has the news story.

    Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes believe that Formula 1 rival Ferrari’s blistering form in Bahrain has come from a “significant” straightline speed advantage.

    While Hamilton got within 0.030 seconds of Sebastian Vettel’s second-place time in qualifying, he admitted that he had no chance of getting close to Charles Leclerc’s pole position performance.

    Reflecting on why the Ferraris has been in a class of its own this weekend, Hamilton reckoned that much of the Scuderia’s advantage can be explained by how fast the Maranello team is on the straights.

    “We have seen incredible pace from the Ferraris,” said Hamilton. “Honestly I didn’t know we would be as close as we were at the end.

    “They were pulling some serious speed on the straights which is where we have generally lost a lot of time, just the straight line.

    “Somehow they have managed to find a lot more speed on the straights.

    “For us the car has felt okay, I just think over the years it has not been a circuit that particularly suited our car for whatever reason, but we got into quite a nice place today and end of straight speeds was really where we lost a lot of time.

    “Sector one we were losing three tenths or two tenths just on straightline speed, so that is a significant amount.”

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said that his team needed to get to the bottom of why it was on the back foot on the straights.

    “On long runs we were doing OK, that looked good,” he told Sky. “But we are lacking in straightline speed at the moment – whether that is track or power, we need to analyse.

    “And obviously it’s not great for the race either, overtaking will be an option tomorrow, but you need to have a fast car on the straights.”

    Asked if he suspected it was outright power or car drag, Wolff said: “For sure it’s a combination of the two.

    “That post-mortem started mid-qualifying when we realised that we’re lacking the speed, and we’ll take the analysis from there.”

  4. McLaren’s Carlos Sainz believes the Bahrain qualifying result was “unthinkable” three months ago. has the details.

    Carlos Sainz says it was “unthinkable” for his McLaren Formula 1 team to qualify so close to the front after finishing seventh in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

    The Woking team got both Sainz and teammate Lando Norris into Q3, the first time it has had both cars in the top 10 shoot-out since 2017.

    Sainz finished less than a second off pole position and less than a tenth behind the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, who qualified fifth in the first non-Ferrari and non-Mercedes car.

    The Spaniard said it was impossible to imagine such a result given McLaren’s form at the end of last year.

    “Congratulations to all the team, because we got both cars in Q3, which is something that hasn’t happened for a long time at this team,” said Sainz.

    “It shows we are working well, we are going in the right direction.

    “A tough winter and the second half of last year trying to understand the problems with last year’s car is now starting to pay off.

    “We are learning, we are improving the car and today we are here, nearly as the best of the rest, which was unthinkable three or four months ago. We were half a second off this.”

    Sainz, who retired from the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, admitted he was at a loss to explain why McLaren was so close to the cars in front after lapping just half a second slower than the Mercedes.

    “It’s hard to understand why we are so close or why everything has tightened up,” he said. “It’s better, more fun for the spectators. I think today we nearly beat a Red Bull, and we were nearly two seconds behind last year.

    “We beat a Red Bull, [Pierre] Gasly, actually. It’s all a bit strange but that’s better.”

    Norris made it into Q3 for the second grand prix in a row, qualifying in 10th position.

    The rookie, who made mistakes on his fastest flying lap in Q3, said the result was a great boost for his team.

    “To have both cars in Q3 is very positive for the team, we’ve taken some small steps forward,” said the Briton. “It gives us a lot of confidence, for all of us.

    “I made a couple of mistakes here and there, nothing big, a little lock-up into Turn 10 which is quite tricky. I pushed a little too much.

    “It’s still Q3, and I’m pretty happy with that.”

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