It’s a brand new season, but a familiar feeling with Max Verstappen going fastest and claiming Pole Position for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
His team-mate, Sergio Perez will join him on the front row, with Ferrari locking out the second row on the grid with Charles Leclerc getting the better of Carlos Sainz.
Aston Martin’s pre-qualifying hype proved to be little more than just that, however, the progress the team has made is notable and they are in a much better place than they were this time last season.
Less than five minutes into Q1, the red flag was out after debris from Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari started to fall onto the circuit. When the session resumed, Yuki Tsunoda was fastest ahead of Carlos Sainz and Nyck de Vries. They were the only three drivers to set a lap time at that point.
Going into the final runs of the session, things were not looking good for McLaren. Both Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri both needing to improve their lap time by at least half a second.
Lance Stroll also had his lap time deleted and then had to complete a final lap on the pressure of risking elimination if it went wrong.
As the checkered flag was flown, Pierre Gasly, Nyck de Vries, Oscar Piastri, Kevin Magnussen and Logan Sargeant were eliminated. Williams’ new driver will feel disappointed about being eliminated but it was a strong effort that matched the lap time of Lando Norris, with the British driver going through as he set his lap time first.
As the drivers began their final runs of Q2, it had a Noah’s Ark feel about the session as Red Bull sat first and second, Mercedes third and fourth and Ferrari sixth and seventh. Alonso was the only independent driver in the mix in fifth.
Carlos Sainz was fastest by the time the checkered flag was flown, with Max Verstappen second. Lando Norris, Valtteri Bottas, Zhou Guanyu, Yuki Tsunoda and Alexander Albon were all eliminated.
In Q3, Max Verstappen went fastest, with nobody able to get close to his lap time. Charles Leclerc didn’t complete a final run as the team aimed to save tyres ahead of tomorrow’s race.
Here is how the top ten finished at the end of qualifying at the Bahrain International Circuit: