Leclerc claims pole position for season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix

Ahead of Verstappen, Sainz

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By Olivier Ferret

19 March 2022 - 17:12
Leclerc claims pole position for (...)

Charles Leclerc claimed the tenth pole position of his career as Ferrari roared to the top of the pecking order in Formula 1’s new era. Defending world champion Max Verstappen will line up alongside the Monegasque on the front row, while Carlos Sainz claimed third place for Scuderia ahead of the second Red Bull of Sergio Pérez. Seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton will start from fourth place.

At the start of the session, Verstappen, who had looked ominously quick through the practice sessions at the Sakhir Circuit quickly moved to the top of the Q1 order with an opening flying lap of 1:31.909. Pérez then joined his team-mate by taking P2 with a lap four tenths off top spot.

Leclerc then stole P1 with a lap of 1:31.471, while Sainz slotted into P2 in the second Ferrari. Hamilton moved to fifth with six minutes remaining but with the 2021 Constructors’ champions struggling with the ‘porpoising’ that hampered many teams during pre-season testing, the seven-time champion found himself eight tenths of a second off the pace set by Leclerc.

Verstappen elected to stay in the garage for the final runs but Pérez was in tenth place and he needed to make another attempt. The Mexican driver delivered a string of personal bests through the mini-sectors of the 5.4km circuit but his lap of 1:32.311 only took him to 11th place. Top spot in Q1 went to Leclerc with Sainz second and Verstappen third. Fourth place went to Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas and fifth to Haas’s Kevin Magnussen as the order was shaken up by the new regulations in place for 2022.

Ruled out after the opening 18 minutes were AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda in P16 ahead of the Aston Martin’s Nico Hulkenberg, McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, the second Aston Martin of Lance Stroll and Williams’ Nicholas Latifi.

With no rules in place governing starting tyres in Q2, Verstappen emerged on soft tyres and again the Dutchman jumped to P1 with this opening lap of 1:30.757. That put him almost six tenths of a second ahead of Leclerc, while Pérez took third place ahead of impressive returnee Magnussen, Hamilton, who was more than seven tenths of a second off his 2021 title rival’s pace, and the second Mercedes of George Russell.

Verstappen again stayed in the Red Bull garage for the final runs of Q2 and his opening time proved good enough to hold top spot. Sainz got closest to the Red Bull, with the Ferrari driver finishing just three hundredths of a second off P1. Leclerc took third a little under two tenths off Max while Pérez progressed to Q3 in fourth place with a final lap of 1:31.008.

Eliminated at the end of the second session though were Alpine’s Esteban Ocon in 11th, Haas’ Mick Schumacher, McLaren’s Lando Norris, the Williams for former Red Bull driver Alex Albon and Alfa Romeo rookie Zhou Guanyu.

Verstappen’s dominance of the opening runs ended in Q3, however. This time it was Sainz who powered to the top of the order, with the Spaniard posting a lap of 1:30.687 to sit five hundredths of a second ahead of Leclerc. Verstappen, meanwhile, was third, a hundredth of a second further back.

And there was to be no final-run recovery for Verstappen as Leclerc claimed pole with a lap of 1:30.558. Verstappen got close, but in the end missed out by 0.123, with Sainz just 0.006s behind and with Pérez in fourth place.

Behind the leading quartet, fifth place went to Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton while surprise packages Alfa Romeo and Haas claimed sixth and seven respectively with Valtteri Bottas and Kevin Magnussen. Fernando Alonso was eighth for Alpine ahead of Mercedes’ George Russell and top 10 order was rounded out by AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly.

Pos.DriverTeamQ1 timeQ2 timeQ3 time
01 Charles Leclerc Ferrari F1-75 1:31.471 1:30.932 1:30.558
02 Max Verstappen Red Bull RBPT RB18 1:31.785 1:30.757 1:30.681
03 Carlos Sainz Ferrari F1-75 1:31.567 1:30.787 1:30.687
04 Sergio Perez Red Bull RBPT RB18 1:32.311 1:31.008 1:30.924
05 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W13 1:32.285 1:31.048 1:31.238
06 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42 1:31.919 1:31.717 1:31.560
07 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari VF-22 1:31.955 1:31.461 1:31.808
08 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault A522 1:32.346 1:31.621 1:32.195
09 George Russell Mercedes W13 1:32.269 1:31.252 1:32.216
10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri RBPT AT03 1:32.096 1:31.635 1:32.338
---------------- --------------- ---------- ---------- ----------
11 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A522 1:32.041 1:31.782
12 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari VF-22 1:32.380 1:31.998
13 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL36 1:32.239 1:32.008
14 Alex Albon Williams Mercedes FW44 1:32.726 1:32.664
15 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42 1:32.493 1:33.543
---------------- --------------- ---------- ---------- ----------
16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri RBPT AT03 1:32.750
17 Nico Hülkenberg Aston Martin Mercedes AMR22 1:32.777
18 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes MCL36 1:32.945
19 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes AMR22 1:33.032
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes FW44 1:33.634

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