Just two races into his Ferrari career, Charles Leclerc had a day to remember forever. He was fastest in final practice and then qualified in pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Ferrari dominated the two practice sessions held on Friday and they were again fastest in Saturday’s final practice. Charles Leclerc finished 0.169 seconds ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel. All eyes were then on how far the two Ferrari’s finished ahead of Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton was third fastest and 0.596 seconds behind Vettel. His team-mate, championship leader Valtteri Bottas was in fourth place. He could have snatched third but ran wide on his best lap.
It’s not been a great time in Bahrain for Red Bull with Max Verstappen down in eighth, though he was only 0.151 seconds behind Romain Grosjean who was fifth fastest. Sixth and seventh positions went to the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg and Lando Norris in his McLaren. There were two McLaren’s in the top ten (not something written that often) with Carlos Sainz Jnr in ninth with Daniil Kvyat in 10th.
Williams again struggled as they filled the final two places. George Russell was fastest but 1.2 seconds behind the rest of the cars with a DRS glitch not helping matters.
Charles Leclerc completed his unforgettable day by taking pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix. In doing so he became the second youngest driver to start on pole. He’ll most likely be congratulated by the youngest ever seeing that just happens to be Sebastian Vettel.
Leclerc was 0.294 seconds faster than his team-mate as Ferrari took 1-2 on the grid. Vettel achieved second with only one run in the final qualifying section after needing a second set of tyres on a previous qualifying lap. Leclerc recorded the fastest lap only to see it beaten by his team-mate but then came back to retake pole. Lewis Hamilton was third but only 0.324 seconds off the pace with Valtteri Bottas a further 0.066 seconds.
Fifth fastest was Max Verstappen in his Red Bull but 0.886 seconds behind Leclerc. His team-mate Pierre Gasly struggled and will start the race in 13th. Both drivers reported problems with the balance of their cars.
Sixth spot on the grid went to the Haas of Kevin Magnussen and a good weekend for McLaren continued with Carlos Sainz Jnr in seventh and Lando Norris 10th. Sandwiched between them ere the other Haas of Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen in his Alfa Romeo.
Just outside the top ten was Daniel Ricciardo who will start in 11th in his second race for Renault with the Toro Rosso of Alexander Albon 12th.
Speaking after qualifying, Leclerc said that he was “truly happy.” He’d put a lot of work in after admitting being “not satisfied” with his qualifying performance in Australia a fortnight ago when only finishing fifth. Sebastian Vettel was pleased with his car and believes Ferrari are “in a good place for the race.”
Lewis Hamilton admitted that Ferrari are “incredibly strong” and interestingly claimed that “I couldn’t have done Charles’ time.” “We have some work to do,” said the defending world champion.
It’s been a dominant weekend for Ferrari on Friday and Saturday, will it continue into Sunday? The start of the race is going to be important for sure. With it being made clear that there are no team orders in Ferrari (at present), Leclerc could well lead this race and keep it till the end. Only time will tell. I’ll be back in April with more blogs, till then enjoy your racing.