Max Verstappen has expressed his relief at overcoming a "tough" Formula 1 weekend to secure Bahrain Grand Prix Pole Position.
After a scrappy weekend, the reigning World Champion pumped in a 1:29.708 effort on his second Q3 flying lap to improve his benchmark time and grab his 21st career pole.
Speaking after the session, the Red Bull driver said it was "amazing" and was optimistic for the race.
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"It's been a tough start to the weekend, yesterday and today," he explained to media.
"I was not really finding my rhythm but luckily in qualifying, we managed to put the best pieces together and I'm very happy to be on pole and also for the whole team coming off last year.
"Having such a strong car with Checo there as well is amazing and I am looking forward to tomorrow."
Qualifying in Sakhir was unusually close among the field, with Verstappen believing it showed the maturity of teams and the regulations.
"Compared to last year, I think everyone knows a bit more what they're doing with the car," he said.
"So naturally, I think you already start off better and more competitive.
"Then the other changes I think slow down the car down a bit, but we are still going faster, so that's a great thing to see.
"Throughout the year you will see that everyone is increasing their performance again again a lot and that's the beautiful thing about Formula 1."
Ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, RacingNews365.com journalists Dieter Rencken and Michael Butterworth analyse where each of the F1 teams stands after pre-season testing.