Leclerc seals maiden F1 pole in Bahrain

Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc has become the second youngest pole sitter in Formula 1 history after setting the fastest lap in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The 21-year-old threw down the gauntlet as Qualifying 3 began, improving his time on his second lap to guarantee his first F1 pole.

With Sebastian Vettel alongside, it was a record equaling 62nd front-row lock out for Ferrari, joining Williams and McLaren on that number.

Mercedes was left with no answer, with Lewis Hamilton third just over 0.3s back from Leclerc and Valtteri Bottas in fourth.

Ricciardo missed the cut through to Qualifying 3 by less than 0.02s, setting a best of 1.29.488 in Qualifying 2.

It saw the Australian fall agonizingly short of Kimi Raikkonen’s 1:29.471s, the Alfa Romeo 10th and into the final part of the session and Ricciardo 11th.

Hamilton opened proceedings in Qualifying 3, setting a 1:29.190s only to have it beaten almost immediately by Leclerc who banked a 1:27.958s.

Neither Vettel nor Max Verstappen opted for an early run as qualifying reached its zenith, the pair not enjoying the luxury of more than a single set of tyres for the session.

Vettel joined the circuit with just under three minutes remaining, Ferrari releasing him into acres of clear track.

Behind leaving the lane were Bottas and Verstappen, with Leclerc the last driver back on track with just two minutes remaining.

Vettel was unable to match Leclerc’s earlier effort, recording a 1:28.160s to go second fastest.

Hamilton failed to improve to confirm himself in third, ahead of Bottas and Verstappen in fourth before Leclerc improved to set a 1:27.866s to set a new track record

Rounding out the top 10 was Kevin Magnussen, Carlos Sainz, Romain Grosjean, Raikkonen, and Lando Norris.

Earlier, Daniil Kvyat accepted his fate and remained in the garage towards the end of Qualifying 2 as the remainder of the field looked to safeguard their positions and scamper through to the final phase.

It saw the Russian demoted to 15th behind Ricciardo, Alex Albon, Pierre Gasly, and Sergio Perez.

Having shown strong pace throughout practice, and tipped to be a threat for the third row of the grid, Nico Hulkenberg was a surprise victim of the first phase of qualifying.

A busy final flurry saw times tumble dramatically, placing Ricciardo in the drop zone for a time before Hulkenberg proved the biggest scalp.

He was joined on the sidelines by Antonio Giovinazzi, who was 16th fastest, Lance Stroll in 18th, and the Williams duo of George Russell and Robert Kubica bringing up the rear.

The Bahrain Grand Prix gets underway at 1810 local time on Sunday evening, 0210 AEDT Monday morning.

Result: Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying

Pos Num Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:28.495 1:28.046 1:27.866
2 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:28.733 1:28.356 1:28.160
3 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:29.262 1:28.578 1:28.190
4 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:29.498 1:28.830 1:28.256
5 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda 1:29.579 1:29.109 1:28.752
6 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:29.532 1:29.017 1:28.757
7 55 Carlos Sainz McLaren Renault 1:29.528 1:29.055 1:28.813
8 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:29.688 1:29.249 1:29.015
9 7 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1:29.959 1:29.471 1:29.022
10 4 Lando Norris McLaren Renault 1:29.381 1:29.258 1:29.043
11 3 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:29.859 1:29.488
12 23 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso Honda 1:29.514 1:29.513
13 10 Pierre Gasly Red Bull Honda 1:29.900 1:29.526
14 11 Sergio Perez Racing Point Mercedes 1:29.893 1:29.756
15 26 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Honda 1:29.876 1:29.854
16 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1:30.026
17 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:30.034
18 18 Lance Stroll Racing Point Mercedes 1:30.217
19 63 George Russell Williams Mercedes 1:31.759
20 88 Robert Kubica Williams Mercedes 1:31.799

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