Charles Leclerc earned his tenth Formula 1 pole position and starts the Bahrain Grand Prix with a clear track ahead of him.
On the front row, the Ferrari driver has defending champion Max Verstappen alongside him.
The margin between the pair after their last Q3 run was one-tenth.
It was a Ferrari fronting the timing boards after the opening Q3 laps were set. Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz was in the box seat to snare a maiden F1 pole.
However, the Spaniard failed to improve on his second and final run, whereas both Leclerc and Verstappen did.
It was the first qualifying done with Formula 1’s next-gen cars, and it appears Ferrari and Red Bull are the two best teams heading into race one.
“The last few years have been incredibly difficult for the team,” Leclerc said.
“We were quite hopeful that this new opportunity for us was an opportunity to be back in the front, and I think we have worked extremely well as a team to find ourselves again in a position to fight for better places.”
Sergio Perez put the second Red Bull on the second row, qualifying fourth.
The first Mercedes can be found in fifth. Lewis Hamilton says Ferrari and Red Bull are “in another league” compared to him and the Silver Arrows, finishing qualifying seven-tenths slower than Leclerc.
“[Ferrari and Red Bull] will be going away,” he said. “We’re not in the fight with those guys.”
Hamilton’s new teammate George Russell fared even worse and starts ninth.
In a funny twist of irony, the man Russell replaced at Mercedes, Valtteri Bottas, qualified sixth in his first outing with Alfa Romeo.
It means Hamilton and Bottas will share the third row together, albeit wearing different colours.
Kevin Magnussen’s Q1 and Q2 sessions were limited to just single runs because of a hydraulic issue.
Still, the Haas returnee landed P7 in his first F1 qualifying since 2020.
Fernando Alonso starts eighth, ahead of Russell and Pierre Gasly.
The only driver missing this weekend is Sebastian Vettel, who is out with Covid.
Replacing Vettel at Aston Martin is Nico Hulkenberg.
Hulkenberg qualified 17th, ahead of a disappointed Daniel Ricciardo.
|3||Carlos Sainz Jr.||1m30.687s|