Bahrain GP: Verstappen storms to pole, leads Red Bull one-two in qualifying

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Max Verstappen led a Red Bull one-two in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday.

After Fernando Alonso had led Practice 2 and 3, it was normal service resumed at the top as Red Bull finally unleashed the full potential of their 2023 cars.

The Dutchman gradually upped the pace throughout the three segments, eventually claiming pole position by just over a tenth from teammate Sergio Perez.

Ferrari emerged as Red Bull's closest challenger as Charles Leclerc led Q1 and Q2 but ultimately settled for third on the grid.


Qualifying began with early drama for the Monegasque, who lost pieces of his car on the main straight and rounding Turn 1 requiring a red flag to clear the debris.

The Scuderia did improve though as Carlos Sainz went quickest, fractionally ahead of George Russell and Leclerc in third.

Lance Stroll was under pressure after having his first lap time deleted for exceeding track limits, but the Canadian recovered well to take fifth behind teammate Alonso.

In the fight to make Q2, Logan Sargeant set the exact same time as Lando Norris in 15th but was eliminated as the Briton did his lap first.

Kevin Magnussen was a disappointing 17th for Haas, while Oscar Piastri was 18th in his first qualifying session for McLaren.

Nyck De Vries was 19th and Pierre Gasly, who was already in the bottom five, dropped to 20th in the Alpine after having his final lap deleted for track limits.


Leclerc led the way in Q2, two-tenths ahead of Verstappen, both Mercedes' and teammate Sainz, with just 0.012s covering P2-P5 as lap times began to plummet.

The key difference was both Red Bull drivers only did one run with track evolution also played a role in their rivals' late fliers.

Stroll was under pressure again after a mistake on his first run but scrambled through to Q3 in P10, at the expense of Norris in 11th.

Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu were 12th and 13th for Alfa Romeo, as Yuki Tsunoda and Alex Albon completed the top 15.


Verstappen upped the ante again in the first run of Q3, setting a 1m29.8s albeit only a tenth clear of Leclerc in second.

Alonso and the two Mercedes' only opted to do one run, with the Spaniard initially going fourth, ahead of both Russell and Hamilton.

Leclerc too stayed in the garage, meaning only Verstappen, Perez and Sainz completed a second run.

And the reigning champion asserted his place at the top, setting a 1m29.708s to consolidate pole position.

Perez ensured a Red Bull front-row lockout in second in front of Leclerc as Sainz improved to fourth, ahead of Alonso.

Russell and Hamilton finished sixth and seventh for Mercedes, ahead of Stroll in eighth.

Esteban Ocon took ninth in the Alpine as Nico Hulkenberg completed the top 10 after having his only Q3 lap deleted for track limits.