Max Verstappen secured his first pole position in the new Formula 1 year. The Dutchman was 0.388 seconds faster than defending champion Lewis Hamilton in qualifying in Sakhir on Saturday in his Red Bull. The Brit relegated his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas to third place. The new season starts on Sunday (5pm) with the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Verstappen had previously set the fastest time in all training sessions on the Bahrain International Circuit (UT24 reported). “We had a great week of testing, but there is no guarantee that it will continue in the races,” said the 23-year-old. “But now the car has been driving very well all week, it was really fun,” he added. “A perfect start,” said Red Bull team boss Christian Horner. It was the first time in the V6 turbo hybrid era since 2014 that a Mercedes bolide did not position itself right at the front before the first race.
Leclerc in the Ferrari starts fourth
In the pre-season test drives in Bahrain, Verstappen was also the fastest. It has now been confirmed that Red Bull Racing has put together a strong package, even though newcomer Sergio Perez in the second car did not make it into the Q3 segment in eleventh place. Charles Leclerc parks his Ferrari in fourth place on Sunday, followed by Pierre Gasly in the AlphaTauri and the two McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris. Carlos Sainz in the second Ferrari, returnees Fernando Alonso with Alpine and Lance Stroll in the Aston Martin complete the top ten.
Best time in the last lap
Verstappen took pole in the final attempt, and on his last lap he even outstripped Hamilton. “Fortunately, we did the job,” he said curtly. His rival, who has already been celebrated seven times as world champion, congratulated him on his performance. “I squeezed absolutely everything out, but unfortunately it wasn’t good enough. There is always a little more, but it was the best I could show today, what the car has done, ”said Hamilton.
“Tomorrow we need a good, clean start, then we’ll see,” added Verstappen. “I hope that the start is successful, then we should be able to control the race relatively,” said Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko at ServusTV. “2013 was the last time that we had a pole position at the beginning of the season,” recalled the Styrian. The then Pole man from Melbourne, Sebastian Vettel, was also world champion for the last time that year – that could be a good omen.