Max Verstappen Returns to Form in Bahrain to Claim Pole

March 1, 2024Ramon Jones
Formula 1

The Red Bulls have been outside of the top 5 all weekend in practice but Max Verstappen put down a 1m29.179s lap which allowed him to seal pole position in Bahrain ahead of Charles Leclerc and George Russell. Leclerc finished 3 tenths behind Verstappen in what seems all but a bad dream for Ferrari. After dominating 2023 the Red Bulls had split results in the first qualifying session of the 2024 season. Sergio Perez Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate ran a best fifth fastest in Q3.

Mercedes Has Mixed Emotions On the Qualifying Result in Bahrain

Emotions were mixed in the Mercedes camp. George Russell appeared to find some pace on his closing laps to secure his spot on the second row. However, questions have been raised about Lewis Hamilton’s pace. It’s not clear if he is still fighting the car similar to the last two years. Hamilton said, “I struggled throughout Qualifying as we have in the past couple of years.

The car is feeling really great, but I just went a little bit in a direction to help my race pace. I wasn’t feeling as comfortable with that yesterday so that was the focus. I’ve definitely sacrificed more single-lap performance than I hoped too but I hope that pays off tomorrow.

It’s a lot of work to do to get past a lot of quick cars that are starting ahead of me, but I’m sure it’ll be fun. George’s position and the pace he showed today really highlights, and is a real testament, to the team. It shows just how hard everyone has worked over the winter. It’s amazing for us to have a car that we can fight with. It reignites the fire and the flame within us drivers. For me today, Bono and everyone else did a great job.”

George Russell Offered his Thoughts on the session

“Everybody at the factory has done a great job to give Lewis and I a car that we are much happier with. It’s a base that we can build upon. We’ve still got some catching up to do to be at the very front, but starting P3 for tomorrow’s race is a good place to be.”

Charles Leclerc Was Disappointed With Missing Out On Pole

“It was a good qualifying after what has been quite a tricky weekend,” said Leclerc. “We tried a few things in the free practice sessions and I found the sweet spot in qualifying. We went out on a set of used tires at first in Q3 which compromised our rhythm a bit, before switching to a new set but overall, it feels like we are in a better place than we were at the start of last year…We have to wait and see where we stand in terms of race pace and Red Bull still seem to be a step ahead of the rest of the pack. I’ll take any opportunity we have.”

The Ferraris are looking to bounce back after a disappointing year in 2023 that saw them win just one race. The Scuderia will have their work cut out for them in tomorrows race. The Aston Martins who saw early season success in 2023 couldn’t find the pace to set themselves up for good starting track position. Fernando Alonso will start P6 with teammate Lance Stroll not making it out of Q2 and starting P12. To add insult to injury Stroll was out qualified by both McLarens with Lando Norris finishing P7 and Oscar Piastri finishing P8. Tomorrow will be the true metric to determine if Verstappen will dominate the field like last year or of its someone else’s turn to rise to the occasion.

Full Qualifying Results from Bahrain Below

11Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT1:29.17917
216Charles LeclercFERRARI1:29.40719
363George RussellMERCEDES1:29.48517
455Carlos SainzFERRARI1:29.50718
511Sergio PerezRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT1:29.53717
614Fernando AlonsoASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES1:29.54214
74Lando NorrisMCLAREN MERCEDES1:29.61415
881Oscar PiastriMCLAREN MERCEDES1:29.68318
944Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES1:29.71018
1027Nico HulkenbergHAAS FERRARI1:30.50218
1122Yuki TsunodaRB HONDA RBPT12
1323Alexander AlbonWILLIAMS MERCEDES12
143Daniel RicciardoRB HONDA RBPT12
1520Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI12
1677Valtteri BottasKICK SAUBER FERRARI6
1931Esteban OconALPINE RENAULT9
2010Pierre GaslyALPINE RENAULT9