Bahrain GP 2024 Qualifying: Verstappen beats Leclerc to pole as Hamilton struggles continue

Follow the excitement live as F1 teams and drivers hit the Bahrain International Circuit for the Qualifying session for the 2024 Bahrain GP, setting the stage for race day

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Welcome to our coverage of the Qualifying session at the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix, coming to you directly from the heart-pounding turns of the Bahrain International Circuit. As the Formula 1 season kicks off under the desert stars, join us for real-time updates, expert commentary, and behind-the-scenes insights into every thrilling moment of the action.

In the final practice session before the Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying, Carlos Sainz claimed the fastest time, outpacing Fernando Alonso and Max Verstappen. The session saw a strategic mix of tyre choices, with most drivers opting for soft tyres, while Verstappen and Sergio Perez initially chose hard tyres.

But when it came down to qualifying, there was no real danger of Verstappen losing out as he sealed pole position by two tenths ahead of Charles Leclerc, with George Russell third.

Make sure and join our live blog for the 2024 Bahrain GP which starts at 18:00 local time.

Qualifying report: Red Bull show their hand as Verstappen clinches pole

An exhilarating qualifying session comes to a familiar end with Max Verstappen on top and Charles Leclerc not far behind.

If that’s a good preview of what we can expect from the race tomorrow, it should be a cracking watch.

That’s all from us for today, here’s the report on what happened during qualifying in case you missed the action.

Leclerc ‘a bit disappointed’ with P2

“I’m a bit disappointed, but yeah, we did a good qualifying. It’s been a tricky weekend until now. We were trying quite a few things in practice and then I found the sweet spot in qualifying.

“Q1 was a bit tricky. Unfortunately we put on two new sets of softs, which compromised a little bit the Q3, but all in all it’s quite a good qualifying, a good start of the year. We are in a better place compared to a year ago, so that is good. Now we have to see the race pace tomorrow.

“In Q2 I think I did a .1 which was more or less the lap time that Max did in Q3, so it was there in the car. I think we lost a little bit the rhythm with the used set of C3 in Q3, then you have to readapt to the new tyres and I lost a little bit there, but all in all it’s been a positive quali.

“I’m confident we did a step forward but we have to wait and see tomorrow how much of a step forward we did. We really think that Red Bull is still ahead by quite a bit, in the race I mean. So we’ll see, but if there’s an opportunity as always I’ll go for it, and we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

Verstappen confident after securing pole

“It was a lot of fun. The track had a lot of grip but with the wind the last two days, it was tricky to get the whole lap together. It was the same in qualifying.

“To really get everything out of it in Q3 was a little more difficult but I’m very happy to be on pole. It was a little bit unexpected but luckily in qualifying the car came to us and I felt a bit happier with the whole car.

“The race is going to be close as well. We look good as well but we’ll see tomorrow. I’m confident we can have a strong race.”

Q3 results: The top 10

Here’s the top 10 for tomorrow’s race:

1 Max Verstappen, Red Bull

2 Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

3 George Russell, Mercedes

4 Carlos Sainz, Ferrari

5 Sergio Perez, Red Bull

6 Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin

7 Lando Norris, McLaren

8 Oscar Piastri, McLaren

9 Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

10 Nico Hulkenberg, Haas

BREAKING: Max Verstappen on pole for Bahrain GP

That certainly wasn’t as close as people might have expected. Max Verstappen carries on from where he left off in 2023 and will start on pole for tomorrow’s race.

Leclerc is second after finishing a few tenths shy of the Red Bull, with Russell putting in a fine lap to sit on the second row. Sainz had a poor final sector and is only P4 ahead of Perez.

A miserable session for Hamilton, who is ninth on the grid and only faster than Hulkenberg. A mixed bag for Mercedes.

First run: Verstappen and Leclerc VERY close!

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN – FEBRUARY 29: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on February 29, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202402290974 // Usage for editorial use only //

There’s only six hundredths of a second between Verstappen and Leclerc after the first run. It’s still all to play for.

Russell has produced a fine lap to put himself third ahead of Sainz and is just under two tenths behind Verstappen. But in the other Mercedes, Hamilton is a massive eighth tenths behind his team-mate and that will be a huge disappointment for the 39-year-old.

Alonso, who goes out onto the track by himself, knocks in a very quick lap and slips in behind Leclerc in P3. Top lap from the 42-year-old.

Q3 is underway!

Let’s do this. It’s very much game on for pole because Ferrari do seem to have the pace to rival Red Bull for pole.

Will Leclerc pip the three-time world champion Verstappen and start on the front row?

The top 10 shootout

1) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

2) Max Verstappen, Red Bull

3) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari

4) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

5) Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin

6) Nico Hulkenberg, Haas

7) George Russell, Mercedes

8) Sergio Perez, Red Bull

9) Lando Norris, McLaren

10) Oscar Piastri, McLaren

Q2 results: Leclerc quickest; Hulkenberg springs shock

*Daniel Ricciardo voice* Nico Huuuuulkenberg! What a lap from the German that was.

He’s found three quarters of a second to sneak into Q3 and send the much-fancied Tsunoda and Stroll tumbling out.

But most importantly, Ferrari actually finished that session on top with Leclerc two tenths up on Verstappen. Mercedes left it late, but both Hamilton and Russell were comfortable in P4 and P7 respectively.

ELIMINATED: 11 Tsunoda, 12 Stroll, 13 Albon, 14 Ricciardo, 15 Magnussen

First run: Verstappen storms clear into P1

Max Verstappen makes his final preparations in the Red Bull garage on day one of 2024 F1 pre-season testing before driving out onto the Bahrain International Circuit | Mark Thompson/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

It was nice while it lasted. Verstappen goes half a second quicker than Perez, who just so happens to be the next-fastest man on the track.

Do Ferrari have anything more to give? Sainz and Leclerc are a long way adrift – 0.720 and 1.051 seconds to be exact. As it stands…

1 Max Verstappen, Red Bull

2 Sergio Perez, Red Bull

3 Lando Norris, McLaren

4 Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

5 Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin

Q2 is underway!

Time to do it all again, albeit for 15 minutes and not 18. It’s time for Q2.

From what we’ve seen in practice today, the Red Bulls and Ferraris look closely matched. It could be a very close fight for pole.

McLaren chief Brown calls for pitlane review

McLaren CEO Zak Brown is not a fan of the new changes on pitlane rules for 2024. Here’s what he said, speaking to Sky Sports F1:

“I think we’ll have to review that and see how we can improve that because it is a bit messy in the pitlane. You know what it’s like, everyone wants to see who goes out first and when, we’re just actually working through now when we want to send our cars out because we want to avoid the queuing.”

Q1 results: Double disaster for Alpine!

The sun starts to set on Pierre Gasly at the Bahrain International Circuit during 2024 F1 pre-season testing | Alpine F1 Team

Oh dear, oh dear. What a horrible qualifying session for Alpine.

Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly will line up 19th and 20th for tomorrow’s race. They’re dead last!

Hamilton managed to save himself in the end, but he might struggle to make Q3 at this rate after an underwhelming Q1 session.

ELIMINATED: 16 Bottas, 17 Zhou, 18 Sargeant, 19 Ocon, 20 Gasly

Q1: 2 minutes to go!

Here’s the top five going into the final minutes of Q1:

1 Carlos Sainz

2 Max Verstappen

3 Lando Norris

4 Fernando Alonso

5 Sergio Perez

First run: Sainz pips Verstappen, Hamilton worry

No surprise to see Verstappen rise to the top of the timings, but only leading Norris by a tenth. Alonso is also proving his pace, with Russell some three tenths off the Red Bull.

Lewis Hamilton, however, did not impress on his lap and he’ll need to go again. He’s down in 12th, a second down on the leaders. He’s behind the likes of Nico Hulkenberg, Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant.

And then seconds later, Sainz goes fastest overall. He’s looking quick!

Here come the cavalry

Verstappen asks his race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase: “Can I go? I don’t want to stop?” as the drivers make their way very slowly through the pit lane.

After Ferrari and Alpine went out for an early run, all the other eight teams are on track and using the soft tyre. Safe to say the medium tyres are not worth the gamble.

Ferrari set the benchmark

16 LECLERC Charles (mco), Scuderia Ferrari SF-24, action during the Formula 1 Aramco pre-season testing 2024 of the 2024 FIA Formula One World Championship from February 21 to 23, 2024 on the Bahrain International Circuit, in Sakhir, Bahrain – Photo Eric Alonso / DPPI

The first times on the board are nearly identical from Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc. They both set a 1:31.2, but Sainz is a few hundredths quicker.

Green light for Q1… we’re off!

Qualifying in 2024 is GO! It’s unseasonably cold and windy out there, so it could be tricky for the drivers to find the grip.

Both Ferraris are out of the garage first and they’ve gone for the medium tyre early on. Let’s see how they get on.

5-minute warning

In case you’ve forgotten, TODAY is qualifying. Tomorrow is race day. A bit different from the usual schedule, but it just means we get that sweet racing feeling a day earlier, which is surely only a good thing.

We’re all set for qualifying in Sakhir. Join us!

RB forced to make late change

Not an ideal situation for Visa CashApp RB – or just RB as we call them – in their first qualifying session with their new name.

Mechanics are working quickly to cover some cracks in the engine cover with sticky tape in the garage, but he should be ready in time to begin Q1 without a hitch.

Qualifying: All you need to know

Pierre Gasly in the cockpit of the Alpine A524 on the first day of 2024 F1 pre-season testing in Bahrain | Alpine F1 Team

In case you watched Drive to Survive last week and decided to give F1 a go for 2024, here’s how qualifying works:

Q1: 18 minutes – bottom five drivers will be eliminated, grid positions locked in.

Q2: 15 minutes – bottom five drivers eliminated, grid positions locked in.

Q3: 12 minutes – remaining top 10 drivers fight for pole

Any tyres can be used, but we will see a lot of soft rubber due to the conditions in Bahrain.

A new rule for 2024 is a rule where if a driver is deemed to be responsible for causing a red flag in qualifying, they could have their best lap time deleted by the stewards.

Good afternoon!

It’s been a long wait, 98 days in fact, for some competitive F1 action. But wait no more… because at long last, it’s time for qualifying at the Bahrain Grand Prix!

That’s right. An F1 car on the track, laying down rubber, pushing the revs to the limit and surging down the pit straight at over 200mph. What’s not to love?

From what we’ve seen from the three practice sessions over the last two days, we’re in for a close fight for pole. Will it be Max Verstappen again? Or can the Ferraris steal a march heading into tomorrow’s race?


Detailed 2024 Bahrain GP Session Times and Dates

Session / TimeBahrainUKUS (ET)US (PT)Aus. (AEDT)
Practice 114:3011:3006:3003:3022:30
Practice 218:0015:0010:0007:0002:00*
Practice 315:3012:3007:3004:3023:30
Qualifying19:0016:0011:0008:0003:00*
Race18:0015:0010:0007:0002:00*

When Does the Bahrain GP 2024 Start?

The 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix is eagerly anticipated by fans worldwide. It’s the inaugural race of the season, promising to deliver an electrifying start. The race will illuminate the Bahrain International Circuit on Saturday, March 2, with the main race set to commence at 18:00 local time in Bahrain. For international viewers, times will vary:

  • United Kingdom (GMT/UTC): 15:00 on Sunday, March 3.
  • United States (ET/PT): 10:00 ET / 07:00 PT on Sunday, March 3.
  • Australia (AEDT): 02:00 AEDT on Monday, March 4.
  • Canada (ET/PT): 10:00 ET / 07:00 PT on Sunday, March 3.

Where to Watch the F1 2024 Bahrain GP in Australia

Fox Sports and Kayo Sports are the go-to platforms for watching F1 in Australia. Fox Sports will broadcast the Bahrain GP live on TV, while Kayo offers a streaming service tailored for sports enthusiasts, featuring live and on-demand access to the F1 season.

Where to Watch the F1 2024 Bahrain GP in Canada

TSN and RDS secure the rights to F1 broadcasts in Canada, offering live coverage of the Bahrain Grand Prix in English and French. Streaming is available for TSN and RDS subscribers via their respective websites and apps, ensuring fans can watch the race on multiple devices.

Where to Watch the F1 2024 Bahrain GP in Australia

Fox Sports and Kayo Sports are the go-to platforms for watching F1 in Australia. Fox Sports will broadcast the Bahrain GP live on TV, while Kayo offers a streaming service tailored for sports enthusiasts, featuring live and on-demand access to the F1 season.

Where to Watch the F1 2024 Bahrain GP in Canada

TSN and RDS secure the rights to F1 broadcasts in Canada, offering live coverage of the Bahrain Grand Prix in English and French. Streaming is available for TSN and RDS subscribers via their respective websites and apps, ensuring fans can watch the race on multiple devices.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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