Max Verstappen secured the first pole position of the year in Formula 1. The 23-year-old Red Bull driver from the Netherlands relegated defending champion Lewis Hamilton in a Mercedes to second place in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday by almost four tenths of a second and raised hopes for an exciting world championship fight. Hamilton’s Finnish Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas came in third.
Mick Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel were eliminated after the first period. The 22-year-old Schumacher left his Russian team-mate Nikita Masepin behind as 19th in the weak Haas racing car. “Very briefly, but still really happy in the end,” said Mick Schumacher on Saturday in the Sakhir desert: “We knew that not much could be done, but we were close.” Vettel came just one place ahead of Schumacher in the Aston Martin, having been slowed down by yellow flags on his late attempt at a fast lap. Responsible for it: Nikita Mazepin. The Russian spun twice in the first qualifying of the season.
Alfa-Sauber brought both drivers into Q2. That was the end of the line for Giovinazzi and Räikkönnen. The two Alfa-Sauber start from positions 12 and 14. However: The starting order could still change a lot. Because of the yellow flag after Mazepin’s spin, all laps will be checked again.
At the end of qualifying, the former Formula 1 driver David Coulthard conducted the interview with Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen. The Briton celebrated his 50th birthday on Saturday. For this he also received a cake from Verstappen. But probably not in the way he would like her to be. The Dutchman pressed the cake full in the face of the 50-year-old and then ran away with a smile. (fss / dpa)