Qualy: Leclerc grabs his first F1 pole position

Date published: March 30 2019

Qualy: Leclerc grabs his first F1 pole position

Ferrari are back on pole position at the Bahrain Grand Prix, although it is the other Ferrari of Charles Leclerc that achieved the top honour.

Having topped all three practice sessions, and comfortably, Ferrari went into Saturday’s qualifying as the team to beat.

The only question was would it be Sebastian Vettel or would it be Leclerc.

It was the latter who set the pace in Q1 while a massive lock up for Vettel left him 0.2s down.

There was more of the same in Q2 although this time Leclerc was left to fly the flag alone for Ferrari as traffic cost Vettel.

“That was the worst spot ever,” said Vettel.

Down in sixth place, and just 0.2s away from the drop zone, Ferrari were forced to send the four-time World Champion out on a new set of soft tyres leaving him with just one set for Q3 – if, of course, he made it through.

He did, finishing P2 to Leclerc’s P1.

Heading into Q3, Ferrari’s rivals were left wondering if there was anything they could do to stop the Scuderia’s run.

They couldn’t.

Mercedes laid down the opening gambits but it was Leclerc who came thorugh with a 1:27.958 to hold provisional pole while Vettel, with his one set of soft tyres, sat in the pits.

Vettel was the first of the Ferraris to venture out the pits, however, his 1:28.160 was three-tenths shy of Leclerc’s previous best.

Leclerc continued his lap, upping his best to a 1:27.866.

Lewis Hamilton was their closest challenger in third place but the Brit was 0.324seconds down.

Valtteri Bottas, winner of the Australian Grand Prix, qualified in fourth place ahead of the Red Bull of Max Verstappen.

Kevin Magnussen was P6 while McLaren got both cars into Q3 with Carlos Sainz qualifying in seventh place and Lando Norris P10.

It, however, could have been a very different story for Norris.

Romain Grosjean would be investigated after qualifying for blocking the Brit in Q1 as he went very slowly through the final corner and got in Norris’ way – a three place grid drop would be the stewards decision, meaning he will start the race P11.

Grosjean had initially qualified P8 ahead of Kimi Raikkonen.

Williams once again struggled for pace with George Russell and Robert Kubica the two slowest drivers in qualifying.

The Formula 2 champ was 0.04s up on Kubica.

Also out in Q1 were Antonio Giovinazzi, Nico Hulkenberg – the shock of the session – and Lance Stroll while in Q2 it was Daniel Ricciardo, Alex Albon, Pierre Gasly, Sergio Perez and Daniil Kvyat who dropped out.

Vettel was also investigated and cleared by the stewards after qualifying – the German provided a suitable answer for why he was driving unnecessarily slow – a nasty flat spot on both front tyres suffered at turn 1.

Times
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:27.866
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 0.294s
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0.324s
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 0.390s
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.886s
6 Kevin Magnussen Haas 0.891s
7 Carlos Sainz McLaren 0.947s
8 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 1.156s
9 Lando Norris McLaren 1.177s
10 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:29.488
11 Romain Grosjean Haas 1.149s (penalty)
12 Alex Albon Toro Rosso 1:29.513
13 Pierre Gasly Red Bull 1:29.526
14 Sergio Perez Racing Point 1:29.756
15 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:29.854
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 1:30.026
17 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:30.034
18 Lance Stroll Racing Point 1:30.217
19 George Russell Williams 1:31.759
20 Robert Kubica Williams 1:31.799

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