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Max takes first pole of the season in Bahrain: 'I am confident'

Published on 01 March 2024 by Misha van der Kroon

Max Verstappen has secured the very first pole position of the 2024 season. It is pole number 33 for the Dutchman in his Formula 1 career. At the Bahrain International Circuit, the reigning World Champion had a margin of more than two-tenths over Charles Leclerc, who took second place. George Russell will start tomorrow from third position. Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez completed the top five in Bahrain.

“To be honest, it was a little bit unexpected,” Max says after the session. “The whole weekend we’ve been struggling a bit to find the right balance. With the wind the last two days it has been quite tricky to get the whole lap together. During FP3 it was already a bit better, but not yet completely great. Yesterday I already said that we needed to finetune a few little things on the car to try and get that perfect balance, even though with the wind that is not possible today.”

Max says that a step in the right direction has been taken today: “We could push a bit more with the car, things luckily came together in Q3. But if you look at the lap times, you saw Ferrari’s potential in Q2. So it’s all very close.” When asked about his expectations for tomorrow, Max answers: “I think it looks good for us, and I’m happy with that of course. But we’ll see tomorrow. I’m confident that we can have a strong race.”

The first showdown of the Formula 1 season shows which teams have done their homework well for this year. With the sun setting behind the horizon, and the lights switching green, the Ferrari drivers are the first to set a time on the clock. Sainz sets a 1:31.208, teammate Leclerc is five hundredths behind him. The both do this on the medium compound. They go back to the pits, and return to the track a little later with the soft tyres on their car to improve their times. Max’s first lap is good for a 1:30.031, which is at that moment the fastest time on the clock. Not for long unfortunately, as Sainz sets a new time that is more than a tenth faster than the Dutchman.

It is busy on track during the last minutes of Q1, especially at the end of the pitlane. Sainz is the only driver to remain in the garage. Stroll surprises by setting the second fastest time when the chequered flag is waved to indicate the end of the session. The top five at the end of Q1 consists of Sainz, Stroll, Verstappen, Norris and Alonso. The first five drivers to be knocked out of qualifying this season are Valtteri Bottas, Zhou Guanyu, Logan Sargeant, Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly.

In Q2, the battle for a place in the top ten starts, and Max his first time on the clock is a 1:29.374. This puts him half a second ahead of his teammate, who is in second place at the moment.
During the final moments of Q2, while the clock is counting down, everybody goes for a final push. Leclerc sets the provisional fastest time with a 1:29.165. At the end of the session, the top five consists of Leclerc, Verstappen, Sainz, Alonso and, to everyone’s surprise, Hulkenberg. It was a close one for both Mercedes drivers, but they ultimately do make it to the final top ten. Knocked out in Q2 are Tsunoda, Stroll, Albon, Ricciardo and Magnussen.

Verstappen quickly starts his first run in Q3. His first clocked time is a 1:29.421, which is good for provisional pole. Russell is two tenths behind Verstappen. A little later, Leclerc puts his Ferrari between the two with a time that is only six hundredths behind Verstappen. The Monegasque wins a lot in the final sector compared to Verstappen. Alonso, who has the track to himself halfway, sets the third fastest time on the clock during his first and only run in Q3. During the very last moments of Q3, Max improves his own time to 1:29.179. This is enough for the first pole position of the year. Leclerc remains second, more than two tenths behind the Dutchman. Russell, Sainz and Perez complete the top five.

Contest GP Bahrain: win a by Max Verstappen signed Racing cap!

Results qualifying Bahrain:

1Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:30.0311:29.3741:29.179
2Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:30.2431:29.1651:29.407
3George RussellRUSMercedes1:30.3501:29.9221:29.485
4Carlos SainzSAIFerrari1:29.9091:29.5731:29.507
5Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:30.2211:29.9321:29.537
6Fernando AlonsoALOAston Martin Mercedes1:30.1791:29.8011:29.542
7Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes1:30.1431:29.9411:29.614
8Oscar PiastriPIAMcLaren Mercedes1:30.5311:30.1221:29.683
9Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:30.4511:29.7181:29.710
10Nico HulkenbergHULHaas Ferrari1:30.5661:29.8511:30.502
11Yuki TsunodaTSURB Honda RBPT1:30.4811:30.129
12Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes1:29.9651:30.200
13Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes1:30.3971:30.221
14Daniel RicciardoRICRB Honda RBPT1:30.5621:30.278
15Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari1:30.6461:30.529
16Valtteri BottasBOTKick Sauber Ferrari1:30.756
17Zhou GuanyuZHOKick Sauber Ferrari1:30.757
18Logan SargeantSARWilliams Mercedes1:30.770
19Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault1:30.793
20Pierre GaslyGASAlpine Renault1:30.948