Perhaps Friday’s qualifying at the Bahrain Grand Prix gave us an indication that this season’s Formula One championship might have a slightly tighter paddock than in previous years.
Amid frustrations over slow pit lane queues, a nervy finish for Lewis Hamilton in Q1 and Alpine’s bleak start to the 2024 season, the top of the standings featured a huge battle between Red Bull and Ferrari.
Both teams shared the lead throughout the three rounds of qualifying, with Red Bull ousting Ferrari right at the end of Q3, with Max Verstappen taking pole position from Charles Leclerc and George Russell, who finished just 0.228 and 0.306 seconds behind. of the.
Carlos Sainz, who had jumped to the top of the classification in Q1 with a time of 1:29:909, came fourth, beating Sergio Pérez, Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris.
After posting a fastest lap in Thursday’s second round of practice, Hamilton endured a difficult night on track, almost avoiding elimination in Q1, before having to work to finish ninth in qualifying, 0.531 seconds behind Verstappen.
Alpine, meanwhile, endured a nightmare start to the season with drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly suffering elimination in the first round after finishing at the back of the pack.
This week’s headlines have been dominated by the texting scandal surrounding Christian Horner and the Red Bull team principal was photographed in the paddock speaking to Verstappen and several other team members as the team took pole position.
But on the track, it was a good start to the season for the Milton Keynes-based racing team, with Verstappen, who came from behind to win Q3, stating over the radio: “I think we did very well in that qualifying, we did the Most!’
He told Sky Sports after the race that taking pole in the first session of the season was “a bit unexpected”, but added that “the car came to him during qualifying”.
“It was a lot of fun,” Verstappen said. ‘The track had a lot of grip. With the wind it was quite difficult to complete the entire lap. “Really getting the most out of the car in Q3 was difficult.”
“I’m sure we can have a good race tomorrow.”
It was the 33rd pole position of his career, and of the previous 16 times he finished first in the standings, the Dutchman won the grand prix.
Similarly, Daniel Ricciardo, who was fastest in the first practice session on Thursday, was eliminated in the second qualifying round.