Bahrain GP: Leclerc beats Vettel to score maiden F1 pole

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc claimed his first Formula 1 pole position in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Bahrain GP: Leclerc beats Vettel to score maiden F1 pole

The 21-year-old put in a dominant performance in Q3, setting two laptimes good enough for pole position.

On his first run, Leclerc set a 1m27.958s on soft Pirellis, which gave him the advantage over Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton given Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel did not attempt an initial run.

Leclerc then went out and improved to a 1m27.866s on his second attempt, which was three tenths faster than Vettel managed on his sole run.

Hamilton lapped just 0.030s slower than Vettel to take third, 0.066s faster than Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen was best of the rest, but he faced a tough challenge from Haas driver Kevin Magnussen – who ended up just 0.005s behind.

Carlos Sainz capped a strong qualifying session for McLaren with seventh fastest, supported by teammate Lando Norris, who was also in Q3 and ended up 10th.

Romain Grosjean, in the second Haas, and Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Raikkonen ended up between them in eighth and ninth place respectively. Grosjean was given a three-place grid penalty, however, for impeding Norris in Q1, and will start 11th.

All drivers in the top 10 set their fastest lap in Q2 on soft rubber, meaning they will start the race on those tyres.

Daniel Ricciardo was 11th fastest for Renault, but will start 10th, after lapping just 0.017s slower than Raikkonen in Q2.

He did not improve on his second run, meaning he was not able to improve on the 11th place he claimed at the first attempt.

Toro Rosso driver Alex Albon was 12th fastest, just 0.042s away from a place in Q1 despite only having one set of fresh softs for Q2, beating Red Bull driver Pierre Gasly.

Gasly failed to improve on his time from the first run, complaining over the radio that "I can't put the throttle down, I don't know why – it snaps everywhere".

Sergio Perez only had one run on fresh softs in Q2, which was good enough for 14th ahead of Daniil Kvyat, who was unable to improve on his second run.

Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi was the fastest of those eliminated in Q1 in 16th place after lapping just 0.067s slower than Raikkonen.

The Italian briefly lifted himself out of the drop zone with his pace on his second set of softs, only to be shuffled back down during a quickfire flurry of late improvements – subsequently complaining that the front tyres were too cold.

Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg was the big casualty in Q1 after only improving by just over two tenths on his second run, which put him just ahead of the second Racing Point of Lance Stroll.

George Russell prevailed in the battle of the Williams drivers in 19th place, just four hundredths of a second faster than teammate Robert Kubica after complaining over the radio that the "tyres were well out of the window".

Cla Driver Chassis Engine Time Gap
1 Monaco Charles Leclerc  Ferrari Ferrari 1'27.866  
2 Germany Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari Ferrari 1'28.160 0.294
3 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes Mercedes 1'28.190 0.324
4 Finland Valtteri Bottas  Mercedes Mercedes 1'28.256 0.390
5 Netherlands Max Verstappen  Red Bull Honda 1'28.752 0.886
6 Denmark Kevin Magnussen  Haas Ferrari 1'28.757 0.891
7 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr.  McLaren Renault 1'28.813 0.947
8 France Romain Grosjean  Haas Ferrari 1'29.015 1.149
9 Finland Kimi Raikkonen  Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1'29.022 1.156
10 United Kingdom Lando Norris  McLaren Renault 1'29.043 1.177
11 Australia Daniel Ricciardo  Renault Renault 1'29.488 1.622
12 Thailand Alex Albon  Toro Rosso Honda 1'29.513 1.647
13 France Pierre Gasly  Red Bull Honda 1'29.526 1.660
14 Mexico Sergio Perez  Racing Point Mercedes 1'29.756 1.890
15 Russian Federation Daniil Kvyat  Toro Rosso Honda 1'29.854 1.988
16 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi  Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1'30.026 2.160
17 Germany Nico Hulkenberg  Renault Renault 1'30.034 2.168
18 Canada Lance Stroll  Racing Point Mercedes 1'30.217 2.351
19 United Kingdom George Russell  Williams Mercedes 1'31.759 3.893
20 Poland Robert Kubica  Williams Mercedes 1'31.799  
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