By Robert Haile
We have had the fall out from the final race of last season, the testing sessions of Barcelona and Bahrain, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine but the teams can now focus of the next 22 rounds.
The first qualifying session took place today Saturday, March 19, in Bahrain a week after the last testing session.
It was Ferrari that set the pace with Charles Leclerc taking the first pole of the season.
Pole sitter Leclerc said: “We knew that it was just a matter of time before we were back in the mix and I’d like to thank our whole team for the hard work that everyone has done to put our car back where it belongs.
“We are all happy with today’s result, but at the same time we are aware that we can’t relax and have to keep pushing because our competitors are strong.
“We focused on short runs so far in the weekend in preparation for qualifying and did a lot of high fuel laps during testing, so we have gotten to know the car in different situations and it feels good.
“The trickiest part today was putting the tyres in the right window, but at the end I put it all together and it feels really good to be back on pole.”
In the dusk of the desert the teams lined up for the three rounds that would decide the starting order for the race tomorrow, Sunday 20.
For those new to the sport the first two sessions (Q1 and Q2) would knock five drivers out in each session leaving the final ten to fight it out for pole position in the final session (Q3).
With Covid-19 still impacting teams, McLaren lost Daniel Ricciardo for testing, it was Aston Martin’s and driver Sebastian Vettel that would feel it’s bite as a positive test ruled him out.
Instead Nico Hulkenberg would driver the for Aston Martin.
In the first qualifying session AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda missed out in sixteenth with Aston Martin drivers Hulkenberg and Lance Stroll split by McLaren’s Ricciardo with Nicholas Latifi in last for Williams.
The surprises continued in Q2 as Lando Norris finished thirteenth meaning McLaren would miss out on the top ten.
Alpine’s Esteban Ocon missed out as Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas took a late tenth place with Haas’ Mick Schumacher, Williams’ Alex Albon and the only rookie Zhou Guanyu in fifteenth.
So down to the top ten with Ferrari’s Leclerc taking pole but it was not a straight forward.
Teammate Carlos Sainz was sitting there after the first runs then Red Bull’s Max Verstappen went fastest on his second before Leclerc took pole.
Sergio Perez took fourth for Red Bull with Mercedes in fifth with Lewis Hamilton, this sounds familiar but different, Bottas is next to him but for Alfa Romeo.
Then after last seasons struggles Haas are in seventh with Kevin Magnussen, Alpine’s Fernando Alonso eighth, George Russell in ninth for Mercedes and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly in tenth.
Bahrain Starting Grid
- Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
- Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
- Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
- Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo)
- Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
- Fernando Alonso (Alpine)
- George Russell (Mercedes)
- Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)
- Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
- Mick Schumacher (Haas)
- Lando Norris (McLaren)
- Alex Albon (Williams)
- Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo)
- Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)
- Nico Hulkenberg (Aston Martin)
- Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)
- Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
- Nicholas Latifi (Williams)