Charles Leclerc claimed a brilliant season-opening pole position at the Bahrain Grand Prix, in what was the first Qualifying with the new generation of Formula 1 cars. Team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr starts directly behind Leclerc in third.
It was a flawless qualifying by the Monegasque driver, who has looked fast all weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit. Leclerc took pole with an amazing lap, the Scuderia Ferrari driver ended the session a tenth of a second ahead of second-placed Max Verstappen. The first corner has fireworks written all over it!
Leclerc is very happy to be back on pole but recognises he has no time to relax, with the first race of the season just around the corner.
“We knew that it was just a matter of time before we were back in the mix and I’d like to thank our whole team for the hard work that everyone has done to put our car back where it belongs. We are all happy with today’s result, but at the same time we are aware that we can’t relax and have to keep pushing because our competitors are strong.
“We focused on short runs so far in the weekend in preparation for qualifying and did a lot of high fuel laps during testing, so we have gotten to know the car in different situations and it feels good. The trickiest part today was putting the tyres in the right window, but at the end I put it all together and it feels really good to be back on pole.”
“The gap at the top has been super narrow” – Carlos Sainz Jr
Carlos Sainz Jr narrowly missed out on the front row, however starting from third may even benefit the Spaniard, who will receive a huge slipstream from his team-mate on the run down to Turn 1.
Sainz Jr performed well throughout qualifying and was initially set for pole, before Leclerc snatched it off him on his final lap.
The Spaniard appeared somewhat disappointed with third but remains very excited for the race on Sunday.
“It’s not been an easy weekend for me up until Quali, but we managed to put together a very strong performance this afternoon. Fighting for pole until the very last attempt is good news. The gap at the top has been super narrow all session, so overall I cannot be too disappointed with this first qualifying of the year.
“Congrats to Charles for this result and to the entire team for giving us such a competitive car. It’s a promising start! Looking ahead to the race, I think there’s still a bit of work to do from what we saw during the long runs in practice, but we will definitely give our maximum. I can’t wait to race tomorrow.“