Charles Leclerc took the first pole position of the 2022 Formula 1 World Championship, ahead of reigning champion Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz, in a qualifying session that went down to the wire in Bahrain.
Ferarri's Leclerc was fastest in Q1 but Red Bull's Verstappen hit back in Q2, making it to the top-10 shootout in one take. The stage was thus set for a face-off between the champion and the Scuderia in Q3.
And it was then that Leclerc set a blistering benchmark of 1m 30.558s, taking his second Bahrain GP pole. Verstappen could only come within 0.123s while Sainz couldn't improve on his first run, ending up third by 0.129s. In a distant P4 was Verstappen's team mate Perez.
Mercedes made it to Q3 – the only Mercedes-powered cars to do so – but couldn't make it into the front row. Lewis Hamilton took fifth while his former team mate Valtteri Bottas made it to a surprise sixth on the grid for Alfa Romeo.
For the first time since the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix, both Haas drivers made it to Q2 but Kevin Magnussen went all the way to Q3, qualifying seventh ahead of Alpine's Fernando Alonso. That left Mercedes' George Russell in ninth – Pierre Gasly rounding out the top 10 for AlphaTauri.
Surprise eliminations from Q2 included Lando Norris (P13) of McLaren and Alpine's Esteban Ocon (P11), with Haas's Mick Schumacher splitting them for P12.
Alex Albon, 14th on the grid, made it to Q2 on his first Williams appearance, while rookie Zhou Guanyu qualified 15th on debut for Alfa Romeo.
That was at the expense of AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda in 16th, both Aston Martin drivers (substitute Nico Hulkenberg 17th and Lance Stroll 19th), plus McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo between them. Nicholas Latifi was last on the grid for Williams.
See the full report and qualifying results:
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