BAHRAIN INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT, BAHRAIN - MARCH 31: Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90 leads Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF90 at the start of the race followed by Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG W10 and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W10 during the Bahrain GP at Bahrain International Circuit on March 31, 2019 in Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain. (Photo by Andy Hone / LAT Images)
Formula One is back! After a 96 day absence, 20 drivers and 10 teams are headed to the grid in Bahrain, but who will be the first to line up on pole?
The Bahrain circuit has a speckled history when it comes to pole positions, with three teams sharing the honour over the past five seasons. Max Verstappen was last year’s pole-sitter and if the testing data is anything to go by, the flying Dutchman could be the favourite to repeat his success in 2022.
Mercedes have also been very strong in the desert, capturing their last pole position in 2020 with Lewis Hamilton.
Finally, the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc was the last red car to take a pole position here, sitting on the front row for the first time in his career in 2019.
The 2021 Championship rivals enter this season under very different clouds. After winning the title in 2021, Verstappen and Red Bull have continued to show performance, setting the fastest time in practice 2 by eight-hundredths of a second. On the other hand, Hamilton and Mercedes have had nothing but issues with the Briton struggling with extreme porpoising on his Silver Arrow.
Although a pole position shootout between the pair seems unlikely, just remember to never underestimate the power of a Hamilton bluff.
Ferrari enters 2022 as an undeniable front-runner, finishing 2nd and 3rd in Practice 2, with Charles Leclerc only 0.087 off the lead. The Maranello based outfit have proven their pace on every tyre and in every condition throughout testing and certainly have teams turning their heads.
Having suffered struggles since 2018, the Haas team have seemingly found pace under the regulations. Kevin Magnussen returned to top the table in the second round of testing in Bahrain and continued to show form in Practice 2, finishing 10th overall.