*** ----> Mighty Max to start in front of grid at Bahrain F1 race! | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Mighty Max to start in front of grid at Bahrain F1 race!

TDT | Manama                                                      

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

Max Verstappen stormed to an historic pole position last night for the Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2024—the Kingdom’s 20th anniversary F1 race taking place this evening (Mar 2) at Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) in Sakhir.

The three-time defending world champion captured the leading grid position for Red Bull after topping an exciting qualifying held in chilly conditions under the bright floodlights of “The Home of Motorsport in the Middle East”.

Verstappen will be in front of the 20-car F1 field as the grand prix is held for the very first time on a Saturday night, making for an additional spectacle in celebrating “20 Years of a Modern Classic” in Bahrain. “It was a lot of fun,” said Verstappen.

“The track had a lot of grip, but with the wind over the last few days, it’s been quite tricky to get a whole lap together and it was the same in qualifying.

“In Q1 and Q2 you go a bit faster, with the track ramping up, but to really get everything out of it in Q3 was a little bit difficult. So I’m very happy to be on pole.

“To be honest, it was a little bit unexpected, but I think the car came to us and I felt happier with the whole car.” Verstappen forecast a close race today. “We look good for the race and that’s the most important, but we will see tomorrow,” he said.

“I’m confident we can have a strong race.” Verstappen took pole for F1’s season-opening event with a fastest lap time of one minute 29.179 seconds in a hotly contested Q3.

It was the 33rd pole of his career, and he has now started the season the way he finished his record-breaking 2023. Ve r s t a p p e n was also the race winner in Sakhir last year.

The Dutchman beat Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (1:29.407) by just over two-tenths of a second, while Mercedes’ George Russell (1:29.485) qualified third three-tenths behind.

Carlos Sainz (1:29.507) will start from fourth in Ferrari’s second contender, while Red Bull’s Sergio Perez (1:29.537) will be fifth on the grid.

Others starting in the leadi n g 1 0 a n d also competing in Q3 yesterday evening are Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso (1:29.542) in sixth, McLaren’s Lando Norris (1:29.614) in seventh, teammate Oscar Piastri (1:29.683) in eighth, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton ( 1 : 2 9. 7 1 0 ) i n ninth, and Nico Hulkenberg (1:30.502) for Haas in 10th.

Eliminated from Q2 last night and set to start 11th to 15th, respectively, were RB’s Yuki Tsunoda, Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, Williams’ Alexander Albon, RB’s Daniel Ricciardo, and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen. Leclerc was fastest in Q2 with a lap of 1:29.165. Earlier, in Q1, Sainz topped the session with a mark of 1:29.909.

Knocked out were Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu of Kick Sauber, Logan Sargeant of Williams, and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly. They will start from 16th to 20th on the grid. The F1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2024 is scheduled for a 6pm start.


Qualifying’s top three, from left, Charles Leclerc, Max Verstasppen and George Russell following action


Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz competes during last night’s qualifying


Mercedes’ George Russell in his car in the pit lane


Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll exits his team’s garage for his qualifying runs