Verstappen immediately takes pole position in the new F1 season, one-two for Red Bull

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Max Verstappen has started the new Formula 1 season in a perfect way by taking pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix. The Red Bull Racing driver recorded a 1:29.708 and was therefore more than a tenth faster than teammate Sergio Pérez, who in turn was faster than Charles Leclerc. Nyck de Vries was only nineteenth.

Q1 started with the Ferraris going out on the mediums while the rest went on the softs. Things immediately went wrong for Charles Leclerc, who lost something off his floor on the straight and braked in Turn 1 – where he lost something off his floor again. Sainz then recorded a time that put him only among the AlphaTauris. After this it became a code red because of the pieces that Leclerc left behind on the asphalt.

The code red seemed to be a signal for Ferrari to switch to the red-striped soft tyre, because when the session resumed, the mediums were no longer visible. It paid off, because Sainz recorded the fastest time with a 1:30.993. Russell was more than sixty thousandths slower, followed by Leclerc and Alonso. Verstappen and Pérez were only fifth and sixth, respectively three tenths and a half a second slower than Sainz.

The Spaniard no longer went for a second run, while the rest of the field did. It really resulted in a blistering denouement of the first part, in which some surprising and striking names were eliminated. One of them is De Vries, who was only 1.1 seconds slower than Sainz, but qualified in P20. Oscar Piastri was nineteenth, behind Pierre Gasly. The Frenchman lost his lap time and therefore starts behind De Vries. In P17 we see Kevin Magnussen, while Logan Sargeant set the same time as Lando Norris for P15, but still didn’t progress to Q2.

Red Bull shows true speed in Q2, Leclerc convinces

In Q2 we saw the real speed of the Red Bull RB19 for the first time. The two Mercedes were the first on the road quickly and managed to get above the two Ferrari men on the time sheet. Alonso was also beaten after the first run, but Verstappen and Pérez took it one step further. The two-time world champion set a 1:30.503, which was almost two and a half tenths of Pérez on P2. Hamilton was four tenths slower than Verstappen.

The denouement of the second part of qualifying was another spectacle. For example, Nico stunted Hülkenberg to go to P3, although he did not stay there long. The German is through to Q3, but that cannot be said about Lando Norris, who just finished eleventh. Valtteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou were unable to put Alfa Romeo in Q3, while Yuki Tsunoda and Alexander Albon were also unable to break ground on behalf of their teams. Leclerc eventually became the man with the fastest time – a 1:30.282. Russell and Hamilton were third and fourth, behind Verstappen.

Verstappen and Pérez battle it out for pole position

Verstappen immediately set the fastest time in his first run with a 1:29.897. Pérez was more than two tenths slower, while Leclerc was just over a tenth behind Verstappen. Sainz did not get further than P4. The Spaniard did have a moment in the six and seven corner combination, with the rear stepping out twice. The rest of the field still had to set a lap time with five minutes left.

It was Alonso’s turn to turn on. With his lap he jumped to fourth place with a 1:30.336, which is more than four tenths slower than Verstappen. Russell then moved up to P5, while Hamilton was only able to record seventh fastest. That was followed by a very striking moment where Leclerc decided not to go for a second attempt, even though he was only a tenth slower than Verstappen.

Speaking of Verstappen: the Dutchman was briefly threatened for pole position, but starts the new season in a perfect way by taking pole position. He also improved to a 1:29.708, while Pérez was a tenth slower. Sainz moved up to P4 and couldn’t beat his team-mate, while Alonso was a good fifth. Russell and Hamilton are on P6 and P7, ahead of Stroll, Esteban Ocon and Hülkenberg.

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