Verstappen takes pole for season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix


Red Bull’s Max Verstappen put in a crushing performance to set pole position for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

The world champion was 0.228 seconds quicker than Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in second. Mercedes’ George Russell was third from Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton was only ninth, 0.225secs behind team-mate Russell.

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was fifth, from Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso and McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Verstappen’s ultimate margin was smaller than many in F1 expected it would be before the weekend – some had predicted the three-time champion would be 0.5secs clear of the field.

However, his superiority was underlined by the fact that only Leclerc managed to beat on new tyres the time Verstappen had set on used tyres in his first run in final qualifying, and even then by only 0.014secs.

Given the Red Bull’s traditional performance pattern, which sees their advantage extend in races in relation to qualifying, he looks a shoe-in for a first victory of the season to continue a run of consecutive race wins that goes back to Japan in late September last year.

And his performance bodes ill for a competitive season at the front of the field, after Verstappen and Red Bull combined to produce the most dominant season in F1 history in 2023.

Behind him, though, the field looks closely matched and competitive.

Leclerc was just 0.078secs quicker than Russell, with Sainz just 0.100secs further adrift.

Top 10

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

3. George Russell (Mercedes)

4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)

5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)

6. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin)

7. Lando Norris (McLaren)

8. Oscar Piastri (McLaren)

9. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

10. Nico Hulkenberg (Haas)

(Source: BBC Sport)

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