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Bahrain Grand Prix: F1 Qualifying Results

Who took the first pole position of 2024?

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Max Verstappen took pole position in Bahrain, in a stunning display from the reigning world champion. 

Max Verstappen in his RB20 during qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix (Image Credit: Red Bull Content Pool/ Peter Fox/Getty Images)
Max Verstappen in his RB20 during qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix (Image Credit: Red Bull Content Pool/ Peter Fox/Getty Images)

As the floodlights lit up a cold and windy Bahrain International Circuit, intrigue surrounded the first qualifying session of 2024. Fears of Red Bull conquering all before them seemed to be premature.

Gear-upshift issues affected both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez in final practice. The reigning champions were seemingly not having things their own way, but rumours of Red Bull yet to unleash full power persisted ahead of qualifying. The same was said of its rivals.

Half a second covered the top ten in final practice, with six teams inside the top ten. Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Aston Martin all looked incredibly closely matched, with the drivers wanting to start their season in the best possible way.

The stage was set for an exciting opening qualifying session. Carlos Sainz had a point to prove after being dropped for 2025 in favour of Lewis Hamilton. Fernando Alonso wanted to end his long victory drought, and McLaren had the ambition to return to winning ways. Mercedes hoped to repeat its strong performance during second practice and set up a possible win.

Drama unfolded before a car ventured onto the track, as Lando Norris required multiple power unit element changes. The impact of this would not be known until after the weekend.

After three days of intensive testing, F1’s competitive order would finally be revealed. Who performed well over the winter and was on the back foot?

Q1

As the lights turned green, it was Ferrari out first, with both cars stealing a march on its rivals. Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz opted for medium compound tyres for their first runs, choosing to perform tests before their soft runs.

The struggling Alpines were next to set a time, performing the same exercise. A Q1 exit was a very real possibility for the Enstone team, as their first runs were considerably slower, Gasly a full 1.2 seconds off the Ferraris on the same tyre. The Frenchman then lost his time to track limits.

The rest of the cars finally took to the track with twelve minutes to go, all on soft compound tyres. Lap times began to tumble, with Nico Hulkenberg confirming a good one-lap performance in the Haas before Norris jumped to the top of the times.  Max Verstappen went a tenth of a second faster before being usurped by Sainz.

Lewis Hamilton found himself in the middle of the pack, with Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin and both RB cars at real risk of falling into the danger zone. In the lower order, both Saubers, Alpines and the Haas of Kevin Magnussen had work to do to avoid a Q1 elimination.  Track evolution fears saw all except Sainz come back out for a second lap.

Everyone on track improved on their second runs, with Lance Stroll showcasing the pace of Aston Martin, moving from the bottom five to the top three. At the chequered flag, Bottas and Zhou were unable to find the team needed. Logan Sargaent’s Williams and Alpines joined them on a dark day for the team.

Eliminated:

16. Valtteri Bottas

17. Zhou Guanyu

18. Logan Sargeant

19. Esteban Ocon

20. Pierre Gasly

Q2

With a closely matched midfield, Q2 promised potential drama. Another traffic jam formed in the pit lane, with the cars slow to take to the circuit.

The two Haas cars were immediately at the top of the timesheets before the McLarens took over, running used tyres. Magnussen’s time was deleted, leaving the Dane with work to do.

Verstappen then went five-tenths clear of the field on his new tyres, with teammate Sergio Perez unable to match the pace of his teammate. Norris was now P3, followed by Leclerc, Alonso and Hamilton.

Sainz, Piastri, Russell and Stroll rounded out the top ten. As the cars prepared to venture out for their final laps, there was no margin for error, with P6 to P15 separated by just over a second.

Both RBs once again found themselves in the danger zone, with Albon’s Williams and the Haas of Kevin Magnussen. With grip proving a commodity, questions remained over how much the drivers could improve.

Hulkenberg moved up to P2 with another stunning lap, which safely saw him into Q2. Sainz moved up to P2, to within two-tenths of Verstappen. Teammate Leclerc then took P1. The Mercedes cars left their runs to the dying seconds of Q2, but both safely progressed into Q2.

As the session ended, it was Tsunoda, Stroll, Albon, Ricciardo and Magnussen who were eliminated.

Eliminated:

11. Yuki Tsunoda

12. Lance Stroll

13. Alex Albon

14. Daniel Ricciardo

15. Kevin Magnussen

 

Q3

Ferrari’s sudden surge of pace set up a showdown between the Scuderia and Red Bull for the final part of qualifying.  Both McLarens and Sergio Perez ventured out first, all on used soft tyres for their first attempt at pole position. Leclerc also opted for a used set, deciding to save a set of tyres for his final run.

Russell set the first time, Max Verstappen replacing him almost immediately. Sainz took P4 from Norris, with Charles Leclerc moving into P2 on his used soft tyres.

Fernando Alonso opted for one flying lap towards the end of the session, His efforts were rewarded with P3, as the rest of the top ten ventured onto the track, all on new soft tyres.

The McLarens improved on their second runs, moving into P6 and P7. Max Verstappen took advantage of a tow behind Piastri, picking up a tow to move three-tenths clear of the field. Russell moved into P3, while Hamilton could only move into P8. Sergio Perez’s effort was only good enough for P5, Alonso P6, Norris P7, Piastri P8, Hamilton P9, and Nico Hulkenberg P10.

The pace of the Ferraris failed to match the searing speed from Verstappen and Red Bull, with the Scuderia having to settle for second and fourth. Verstappen’s pole position sees him fifth on the all-time list.

Final Classification

 

 

Feature Image Credit: @F1 on X

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