Formula 1

Leclerc on Pole for Season Opening Bahrain Grand Prix

4 Mins read
Credit: Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Scuderia Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc claimed the first pole position of 2022, at the season opening Bahrain Grand Prix, as the first Qualifying with the new generation of Formula 1 cars took place under the lights at the Bahrain International Circuit.

It was an exhilarating qualifying to open up the season, with Max Verstappen who had dominated most of the weekend so far, lining up alongside the Monegasque driver. Just +0.129s separated the top three at the end of the session, with Carlos Sainz Jr making it a 1-3 for the Prancing Horses. Elsewhere it was a qualifying to forget for the McLaren F1 Team but a spirited one for the Uralkali Haas F1 Team.

Qualifying 1:

From the get-go, it was clear that the battle for pole would be between the two Ferrari’s and the World Champion, all three comfortably made it through to Qualifying 2. The same can’t be said for Daniel Ricciardo, the McLaren driver was the biggest shock to be eliminated from the opening session. The Australian of course missed the entire Bahrain Pre-Season test after testing positive for COVID-19, his lack of track time perhaps got the better of him. Ricciardo will start from eighteenth.

It was a valiant effort by Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team’s, Nico Hulkenberg, who only got in the car for the first time on Friday, after Sebastian Vettel was ruled out of the season-opener after he tested positive for the Coronavirus. Hulkenberg incredibly managed to out-qualify team-mate Lance Stroll, both Aston Martin’s though missed out on a spot in Qualifying 2.

Alex Albon did brilliantly with his last-lap in the opening session to jump out of the bottom five, the Thai driver just made it through to Qualifying 2 on his return to Formula 1. It was also the first-time since the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix that the Uralkali Haas F1 Team had both cars through to the second stage of qualifying.

Eliminated: Yuki Tsunoda, Nico Hulkenberg, Daniel Ricciardo, Lance Stroll & Nicholas Latifi.

Qualifying 2:

In Qualifying 2 it was the same protagonists at the top, joined however by Sergio Pérez and both Mercedes’, who have been a long way off all weekend, had they been sandbagging the entire time?

All fifteen remaining drivers were out on track using the soft compound Pirelli tyre, with all drivers this season getting free tyre choice for the race, meaning only the soft will be used for qualifying from now on. Kevin Magnussen put in a brilliant lap early on in the session to put himself comfortably into the top ten, and all but certain of a top ten spot on his return to the sport. The Danish driver however sat in the garage for the remaining minutes of Qualifying 2, after suffering a hydraulic issue. Albon was another who only did a single lap, however the top ten was well out of reach for the Williams Racing driver.

Rookie Guanyu Zhou drove brilliantly in his first qualifying, the Chinese driver was also well off a spot in the top ten but managed to out-qualify some big names. Mick Schumacher secured the best qualifying of his Formula 1 career so far, after just missing out on the top ten, the German starts twelfth. The biggest scalp of the second session though was the other McLaren of Lando Norris, both McLarens appear to be really struggling at the season opener, the British driver will be needing a miracle to salvage a points finish on Sunday.

Eliminated: Esteban Ocon, Mick Schumacher, Lando Norris, Guanyu Zhou, Alex Albon.

Qualifying 3:

The remaining ten drivers battled it out for the first pole position of not only 2022, but of the new era of Formula 1. In sync with the entirety of qualifying, the fight for pole was only ever between three drivers. All three set their best laps on their final lap around the Bahrain International Circuit. At first Sainz Jr jumped to pole before straight-away being dropped to second by his Monegasque team-mate. This only left World Champion Max Verstappen, who failed to take pole off Leclerc but did importantly split the two Ferrari’s.

It’s a Ferrari 1-3 and a Oracle Red Bull Racing 2-4, with Pérez putting in a lap good enough for a comfortable fourth. Lewis Hamilton could only manage fifth but was the closest he has been to the front-runners almost all weekend, Mercedes do seem to have found some improvements throughout Saturday. Hamilton was given a beautiful tow by new team-mate George Russell, who’s final lap started poorly after running deep at Turn 1, the young British driver slipped to ninth.

In a somewhat awkward circumstance, it’s Valtteri Bottas who did an unbelievable job to put the Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN in sixth, Bottas was of course replaced by Russell at Mercedes. The biggest story of qualifying though came in the form of Magnussen, the Haas team managed to fix the hydraulic issue in time for him to do one lap, a lap that was good enough for an incredibly special seventh, after a year away from the sport. Fernando Alonso and Pierre Gasly claimed eighth and tenth respectively.

So it’s Leclerc and Verstappen on the front row with their team-mates directly behind, the season opener looks set to be a highly exciting one where reliability looks likely to play an instrumental factor. It’s also impossible to rule out Hamilton, the Seven-Time World Champion will be looking to make ground early on, at the venue where he won the season opener in 2021.

2022 Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying Results:

1Charles LeclercMONScuderia Ferrari1m31.471s1m30.932s1m30.558s
2Max VerstappenNEDOracle Red Bull Racing1m31.785s1m30.757s1m30.681s
3Carlos SainzESPScuderia Ferrari1m31.567s1m30.787s1m30.687s
4Sergio PerezMEXOracle Bull Racing1m32.311s1m31.008s1m30.921s
5Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team1m32.285s1m31.048s1m31.238s
6Valtteri BottasFINAlfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN1m31.919s1m31.717s1m31.560s
7Kevin MagnussenDENUralkali Haas F1 Team1m31.955s1m31.461s1m31.808s
8Fernando AlonsoESPBWT Alpine F1 Team1m32.346s1m31.621s1m32.195s
9George RussellGBRMercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team1m32.269s1m31.252s1m32.216s
10Pierre GaslyFRAScuderia AlphaTauri1m32.096s1m31.635s1m32.338s
11Esteban OconFRABWT Alpine F1 Team1m32.041s1m31.782s 
12Mick SchumacherGERUralkali Haas F1 Team1m32.380s1m31.998s 
13Lando NorrisGBRMcLaren F1 Team1m32.239s1m32.008s 
14Alexander AlbonTHAWilliams Racing1m32.726s1m32.664s 
15Guanyu ZhouCHNAlfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN1m32.493s1m33.543s 
16Yuki TsunodaJPNScuderia AlphaTauri1m32.750s  
17Nico HulkenbergGERAston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team1m32.777s  
18Daniel RicciardoAUSMcLaren F1 Team1m32.945s  
19Lance StrollCANAston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team1m33.032s  
20Nicholas LatifiCANWilliams Racing1m33.634s
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