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F1 2022

Leclerc beats Verstappen to pole for F1 season opener

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc has taken pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix, having beaten 2021 World Champion Max Verstappen to the fastest time.

Leclerc Bahrain
Article
To news overview © RN365/Michael Potts

Charles Leclerc will start the 2022 season opener in Bahrain from pole position, after the Ferrari driver set a 1:30.558 on the final run of Q3 to pip his teammate and Red Bull's Max Verstappen to pole position.

Carlos Sainz had led the way after the first runs in Q3, pipping Leclerc by just 0.044 seconds as the two Ferraris locked out the front row. But Verstappen was ominously close, just 0.012s behind Leclerc, as the top three drivers enjoyed a three-tenths advantage over fourth-placed Sergio Perez.

The second runs saw Verstappen improve and eclipse Sainz's effort by just 0.006 seconds, but this paled into insignificance as Leclerc hooked up his lap to set his eventual pole time.

Perez had to settle for fourth, while Mercedes' best time could only secure the third row, as Lewis Hamilton wrapped up fifth – ironically, alongside his former Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas, as the Finn placed his Alfa Romeo in sixth.

Haas' Kevin Magnussen, returning to F1 for the first time since the 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, took seventh as the Dane battled an ongoing hydraulic issue on his car that resulted in him stopping on track after the chequered flag in Q3.

Fernando Alonso secured eighth for Alpine, ahead of Mercedes' George Russell, after the British driver made an error on his final flying lap. AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly rounded out the top 10.

Result Qualification - Bahrain

Pos. Driver Team Time
Results are being loaded...

Q2

One of the big rule changes for 2022 is the removal of the Q2 tyre rule, meaning drivers no longer need to use the tyres that they intend to start the race with.

As a result, there was no messing around with Medium tyres, as the drivers fitted the Soft rubber and headed out to post their initial times in the second part of qualifying.

Verstappen set the early pace with a 1:30.757, 0.599s clear of Leclerc, with Perez a further 0.021 behind as the Mexican made it a Red Bull 1-3. Astonishingly, the closest challenger behind them was Haas' Kevin Magnussen – even ahead of Mercedes duo Hamilton and Russell.

In the final minutes, Sainz rose to second, just 0.030s down on Verstappen, pushing Leclerc and Perez back to third and fourth.

Late time improvements from the Mercedes drivers put them in fifth and sixth, with Hamilton and Russell respectively, although closing in to just three-tenths away from the front.

Magnussen finished in seventh, but had to abort a second run as Haas informed him about a hydraulic issue on his VF-22.

Alonso and Gasly were eighth and ninth, while Bottas kept up his long-running streak of making it into Q3 as he rounded out the top 10 for Alfa Romeo.

Eliminated were Alpine's Esteban Ocon, Haas' Mick Schumacher, McLaren's Lando Norris, Williams' Alex Albon and Alfa Romeo's Guanyu Zhou.

Q1

The two Ferraris proved unstoppable in the first part of qualifying, with Leclerc's 1:31.471 just under a tenth quicker than Sainz, with Verstappen three-tenths away.

Knocked out in the first part of qualifying were AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda in 16th place, while Nico Hulkenberg won the battle of the Aston Martin drivers.

However, it will be of little solace for Aston Martin, as Hulkenberg finished in 17th place, with Lance Stroll only managing 19th – the pair split by the equally disappointed Daniel Ricciardo, as the Australian struggled with chronic understeer on his MCL36.

Williams' Nicholas Latifi was the slowest of the 20 drivers, while new teammate Albon made it through into Q2 in the other FW44.

Last year's backmarker team, Haas, progressed to the next part of qualifying, with Magnussen managing a stellar fifth place and Schumacher in 13th at the chequered flag for the first stage of qualifying.

Also interesting:

F1 Podcast: Previewing the 2022 Formula 1 season

Ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, F1 journalists Dieter Rencken, Mike Seymour and Thomas Maher preview the 2022 season.

F1 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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