Max Verstappen took his fourth career pole position by a mile in Bahrain, nearly four-tenths ahead of Lewis Hamilton. 

After trading times all the way through the session, Max pulled it out at the end with a wholly perfect lap to be the class of the field and make it four from four sessions on the weekend.

Lewis Hamilton was his only challenger all session but couldn’t hack it at the end as Verstappen’s lap was something special.

Valtteri Bottas will start third, nearly exactly two tenths behind Hamilton which was the closest he could get after some sporadic laps all weekend – third is a good result for him.

Another star performance is Charles Leclerc in fourth for Ferrari under a tenth behind Bottas with another perfect lap as we expect from Charles. He has had more of a challenge from his teammate this year already but he can find that special something.

Pierre Gasly was one of the pleasant surprises of the session qualifying fifth in the user-friendly and fast AlphaTauri. He even made it through to Q3 on mediums so is in a very strong position for tomorrow.

Daniel Ricciardo pulled it out at the end to beat his McLaren teammate Lando Norris with them setting near-identical laptimes in sixth and seventh ahead of Carlos Sainz in eighth.

Fernando Alonso outdrove the Alpine to ninth in a return that is fit for the two time world champion with Lance Stroll out of sequence in tenth place.

The shock Q2 elimination was Sergio Perez who tried to get to Q3 on mediums but missed out by 0.035s, though that at least puts him in the very fruitful 11th place with free tyre choice. But it won’t be the start he is after to his Red Bull career.

A star of qualifying was Antonio Giovinazzi in 12th with a lap that was so close to Q3 for the Alfa Romeo ahead of an unlucky Yuki Tsunoda who looked to be a shoe in for Q3 on debut.

Tsunoda made a few mistakes on his final Q2 lap but showed significant pace across the other sessions and will be a force in the race. The rookie shocked every by running second in Q1 – his first-ever F1 qualifying run.

Kimi Raikkonen is just behind Tsunoda with George Russell in 15th after a mega job to drag the Williams out of Q1.

Esteban Ocon had a bad start to the season getting caught up in yellow flags meaning that his first race for Alpine will be from 16th.

Nicholas Latifi was ahead of his esteemed teammate Russell in the early runs but couldn’t pull out the special lap that Russell was capable of and starts 17th ahead of the shock elimination of Sebastian Vettel in his first race for Aston Martin.

That team, as Racing Point, won in the last race here and was on for a podium the week before but with the new 2021 regulations they haven’t been able to find the form of last year.

The two Haas drivers line up last with Mick Schumacher ahead of the keen Nikita Mazepin who spun on two of his runs which compromised a lot of laps for others who had to slow down at turn 1.

The race is set to be an entrance to the unknown, some questions have been answered. Some questions have not been answered. One clear thing is that we are here for it.

 

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