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