Red Bull finally show their hand as Max Verstappen takes Bahrain pole ahead of Ferrari and Mercedes

Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes completed the top three for qualifying at the 2024 Bahrain GP but Max Verstappen reigned supreme

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Max Verstappen shook off the sandbags and scythed through the off-track maelstrom enveloping Red Bull to clinch pole position for the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix by two-tenths ahead of Charles Leclerc.

Verstappen was behind in both Q1 and Q2 but went fastest with his first lap of Q3 and improved yet again on his final attempt, sounding almost surprised with the pole position on his team radio.

Ferrari‘s challenge faltered slightly as George Russell beat Carlos Sainz to third by two-hundredths, with Sergio Perez rounding out the top five but almost four-tenths behind his teammate.

And McLaren‘s predicted struggles also continued, both cars reached the final session but they had to settle for seventh and eighth – behind Fernando Alonso but ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton needed improvements on his final laps of both Q1 and Q2 to reach the top 10 shootout but couldn’t recreate a similar rise at the end of Q3, beating only Nico Hulkenberg with his last lap of the day.

The concern over RB‘s pace ultimately appears much ado about nothing as neither car reached Q3 – though Yuki Tsunoda missed out by just 0.007 seconds behind Oscar Piastri. Kevin Magnussen, Daniel Ricciardo, Alex Albon and Lance Stroll were the other Q2 eliminations.

The Haas duo were the surprise survivors into Q2 while Logan Sargeant‘s qualifying woes continue from 2023 – he’s still yet to outqualify teammate Albon in his F1 career and both Saubers were also casualties of the first session.

Alpine‘s ultimate nightmare came true – not only were both cars eliminated in Q1, they were the bottom two qualifiers of the whole session for the first time since the 2016 Azerbaijan GP with Pierre Gasly the only driver in the session a second behind the pacesetter.

“Only round 1, only round 1, we keep pushing and there’s a race tomorrow. I’ve got faith in you guys”

Esteban Ocon’s team radio at the end of Q1

After you! No no after you

Aside from the competitive order, queuing problems were the big talking point from the first qualifying of the year. All three sessions saw drivers going extremely slowly at the end of the pitlane, leaving their garage early to avoid being held up by cars in front but then dawdling in the pitlane to hit the track at the optimum time.

Several drivers got on the radio to complain about the slow-moving traffic – including Verstappen – after the weekend’s race director’s notes had specified the minimum lap time for outlaps would apply to the pitlane too.

“The guys in front of Carlos are stopping, we are not allowed to stop normally,” Leclerc said over the radio in Q2.

However, McLaren CEO Zak Brown believes the current rules need revisiting for the other 23 races of the season.

“I think we’ll have to review that and see how we can improve that because it is a bit messy in the pitlane,” Brown told Sky Sports F1. “You know what it’s like, everyone wants to see who goes out first and when.”

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, and previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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