2022 Bahrain Grand Prix report and qualifying: Leclerc takes Ferrari’s stunning Bahraini pole ahead of Verstappen and Sainz

Charles Leclerc finished first in the 2022 Formula 1 World Championship, ahead of defending champion Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz, in a qualifying session that fell in Bahrain.

Ferrarri’s Leclerc was fastest in Q1 but Red Bull’s Verstappen responded in Q2, putting him 10th in the penalty shootout in one shot. And so the stage was set for the Champion-Scuderia showdown in Q3.

And in that time, Leclerc set an astonishing standard of 1m 30.558secs, to take his first place in Bahrain at the Grand Prix. Verstappen could only come in in 0.123sec while Sainz couldn’t improve in his first round, and ended up in third place by 0.129sec. At P4 Perez was Verstappen’s teammate.

Mercedes made it to the Q3 – the only Mercedes-powered cars to do so – but couldn’t make it to the front row. Lewis Hamilton finished fifth while former team-mate Valtteri Bottas surprisingly finished sixth on the grid for Alfa Romeo.


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For the first time since the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix, both Haas drivers made it into the second quarter, but Kevin Magnussen went into the third, ahead of Alpine team Fernando Alonso in seventh. That left Mercedes driver George Russell in ninth place – with Pierre Gasly closing out the top ten for AlphaTauri.

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Surprise liquidations in the second quarter included McLaren’s Lando Norris (P13) and Esteban Ocon (P11), with Haas’ Mick Schumacher splitting them into P12.

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Alex Albon, 14th on the grid, reached the second quarter on his Williams debut, while rookie Zhou Guanyu qualified for 15th on his debut with Alfa Romeo.

It was AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda in 16th place, both Aston Martin drivers (substitute Nico Hulkenberg 17 and Lance Stroll 19), as well as McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo. Nicholas Latifi was the last time on the grid for Williams.

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Qualifier highlights: Bahrain Grand Prix

as it happened

Q1 – Ferrari beats Red Bull while Haas and Alfa Romeo shine

In their first round, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz took the lead in the schedule, and Leclerc led his teammate by 0.096sec thanks to a lap lap of 1m 31.471sec. None of the Scuderia driver came out for round two – nor was Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who was three tenths behind and third in the first quarter.

Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas raised eyebrows by 0.448sec ahead of P1, while Haas’ Kevin Magnussen finished the top five ahead of Alpine Esteban Ocon who finally showed his hand after giving up soft-tire kicks in FP3.

With Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri team in P7, eighth-placed Lando Norris (McLaren) was the highest-ranked driver at Mercedes, beating Mercedes duo George Russell (P9) and Lewis Hamilton (P10).

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Red Bull’s Sergio Perez missed the top 10 but comfortably qualified for the second quarter, ahead of Fernando Alonso (P12) over Albine and Haas’ Mick Schumacher in P13 and nine tenths off the lead. For the first time since the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix, both Haas cars entered the second quarter.

Leclerc ticked Q1

In his Alfa Romeo debut, Zhou Guanyu made it to Q2 in P14 – ahead of Williams’ 15th-placed Alex Albon, who finished second in second ahead of his teammate Nicholas Latifi.

A quartet of Mercedes-powered cars joined 16th place Yuki Tsunoda – who missed the FP3 due to a hydraulic problem – in the landing zone.

Aston Martin did not make it to the first quarter – substitute Nico Hulkenberg 17 and teammate Lance Stroll 19 – and left Latifi’s Williams in P20. The Aston Martins division was a disappointment to Daniel Ricciardo (P18), who missed his pre-season test with Covid-19.

Kicked off: Tsunoda, Hulkenberg, Ricardo, Stroll, Latifi


Alex Albon took Williams into the second quarter on his first team appearance

Q2 – Verstappen is doing his best to fly to keep Ferraris behind

Adding to the extensive set of rule changes for 2022, drivers who have passed the second quarter no longer need to use the same tires to start the race, while a soft tire is now mandatory in the third quarter.

Verstappen posted the fastest time so far with 1m 30.767s and stayed on the pit with the Ferraris emerging in their second runs. Sainz reached P2, in 0.030 seconds off Verstappen, while Leclerc finished third, 0.175 seconds behind the defending champion.

In the other Red Bull, Perez finished fourth by 0.251sec while Mercedes’ Hamilton was narrowly fifth and Russell sixth.

Magnussen put in another amazing effort for Haas, finishing seventh in the second quarter, but the Danish driver was tied to the garage with a hydraulic problem. He finished the race ahead of Alonso and Gasly, both of whom secured his appearance in the third quarter.

Bottas’ late effort put him 10th – meaning the last time he missed the third quarter was in Abu Dhabi 2016. That left Ocon missing in the third quarter for Alpine by just 0.065sec, while Haas’ Schumacher had to settle for a P12 error in his effort aerial.

McLaren failed to reach the top ten as Norris finished 13th ahead of Williams Albon (P14) and Alfa Romeo Zoo in P15.

Out – Ocon, Schumacher, Norris, Albon, Cho


Verstappen responded back in Q2

Q3 – Scuderia vs Verstappen

Hamilton and Russell appeared first, as the seven-time champion beat his teammate. Hamilton went faster than Russell on his first run, but neither of them were in a fight for first place.

But Leclerc and Sainz she was In the fight for P1 – and practically neck and neck as well, Verstappen follows closely after the first runs. Sainz was first ahead of Leclerc and then Verstappen – the trio split by just 0.056sec.

However, the second runs saw Leclerc improve while Sainz failed to do so. The Monaco driver has taken first place since the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, and second in Bahrain with a time of 1 minute 30.556 seconds. Verstappen was 0.123s behind the flag and Sainz finished again 0.129s in P3.

With Perez back in fourth, Mercedes’ Hamilton rounded out the top five while former teammate Bottas took the championship again, putting Alfa Romeo sixth on the grid – albeit three tenths behind Hamilton.

Haas’ seventh driver Magnussen was also a star in qualifying, finishing ahead of Alonso Alonso in the P8 and other Mercedes Russell in ninth – although Magnussen was forced to stand on the track after his last run in the third quarter. Closing out the top ten was AlphaTauri’s Gasly.


Leclerc took the pole of his tenth career

Main quote

“Yes, it feels good,” said Leclerc, seated. “The last few years have been very difficult for the team and we were hoping this new opportunity for us would be a chance to get back to the front and I think we have done very well as a team to find ourselves once again a position to fight for better places.

“So, I’m very happy with this day – it was a very difficult qualifying session. I wasn’t entirely happy with my driving but I was able to do that lap in the third quarter and start from the top position, so I’m very happy.”

What then?

The Bahrain Grand Prix kicks off at 1800 local time as the 2022 Formula 1 season begins. Who will get to the ground – and who will let Bahrain play the catch-up game?

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