World Champion Verstappen first pole at the Bahrain Grand Prix

Dutch world champion Max Verstappen begins the new season from where his predecessor ended, after he finished the qualifying trials for the Bahrain Grand Prix, the first stage of the Formula 1 World Championship, in first place on Saturday in Sakhir.

The Red Bull driver, world champion for the past two seasons and winner of the final race of 2022 in Abu Dhabi, will be on pole in Sunday’s race in front of his Mexican teammate Sergio Perez.

It will be the first time that the Red Bull team starts from the first two places in the Bahrain Prize, which has struggled against the Austrian team since 2013, when it achieved its last victory over it through former German world champion Sebastian Vettel.

Verstappen, with his 21st start from the first line, gave the best gift to his father, former driver Yoss, on his 51st birthday.

The Ferrari duo, Charles Leclerc of Monaco, who won the race last year after he was also the first to start, and the Spaniard Carlos Science from the third and fourth places, respectively, with the other former Spanish world champion Fernando Alonso behind them in fifth place with his new team Aston Martin.

Verstappen scored his fastest lap at a time of 1:29.708 minutes, narrowly ahead of his teammate Perez (1:29.846 d), while Leclerc scored 1:30.00 minutes to take third place.

Verstappen said: “It is a pleasant surprise. I did not expect to be on pole after what we have tested in the past few days,” referring to the team’s suffering in the tests that took place in Bahrain last week and Friday’s free practice.

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As for Leclerc, he preferred not to consume his tires in the fight for first place, according to what he stated, explaining: “I felt that it was better for me to start from third place with a new set of tires than to fight for the top of the qualifying trials and start from first place with worn tyres.”

He continued, “There was a great convergence. (The car) Aston Martin was very fast and Mercedes was very fast. It looks promising for the future, which will make Formula 1 more exciting.”

And the Mercedes team came in sixth and seventh places, as Briton George Russell outperformed his compatriot, seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.

Top ten:

Max Verstappen (Netherlands/Red Bull) 1:29.708

Sergio Perez (Mexico/Red Bull) 1:29.846

Charles Leclerc (Monaco/Ferrari) 1:30.000

Carlos Science (ESP/Ferrari) 1:30.154

Fernando Alonso (Spain/Aston Martin) 1:30.336

George Russell (GBR/Mercedes) 1:30.340

Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes) 1:30.384

Lance Stroll (CAN/Aston Martin) 1:30.836

Esteban Ocon (France/Alpine) 1:30.984

Nico Hulkenberg (Germany/Haas) 0.000

The official time trial is divided into three rounds. In the first round, all cars are on the track for 18 minutes. The drivers who achieve the top 15 times remain in the competition for the second 15-minute round. In conclusion, the top ten cars qualify to battle for the lead in the 12-minute third round. At the conclusion of the first and second rounds, each driver’s time is reset to zero.

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