Formula 1

Qualifying Rundown: 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix

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The second qualifying session of the 2019 Formula One season has passed, and this is how it unfolded.

BAHRAIN INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT, BAHRAIN – MARCH 30: Charles Leclerc, Ferrari celebrates pole position in Parc Ferme during the Bahrain GP at Bahrain International Circuit on March 30, 2019 in Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain. (Photo by Steven Tee / LAT Images)

In the first qualifying session, Williams suffered a quick and easy defeat at the hands of the rest of the grid, with George Russell qualifying in 19th 0.04 seconds ahead of his old-timer teammate Robert Kubica in 20th. The unfortunate reality of the Williams is that they were nearly 4 seconds off the pace of the eventual pole time set in Q3 by Charles Leclerc, not a good time for one of F1s greats…

The other three drivers knocked out in Q1 were Antonio Giovinazzi making up 16th, Nico Hulkenberg in 17th and Lance Stroll making his 6th Q1 knock out in a row with 18th place, but that isn’t something to worry about for Racing Point as he is one of the better race starters on the grid, with very strong race pace compared to seasoned teammate Sergio Perez. Q1 saw a Ferrari front row lockout, similar to the practice sessions preceding qualifying with Hamilton 3rd, and a shocking 4th in Q1 for the British rookie Lando Norris with McLaren, qualifying ahead of Aus GP winner Bottas and both red bull drivers.

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This was after an incident involving Romain Grosjean blocking him on the entry to the final corner of the track after Grosjean had to slow down for more room on his lap when he was overtaken by Sebastian Vettel a bit too eagerly, meaning Norris had to go out again to make sure he could make it out of Q1.

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Q2 saw less drama, with a shock exit for Pierre Gasly of Red Bull Racing who only managed to get to 13th after appearing on the radio with some throttle issues, saying that it seemed to be snapping instead of allowing proper inputs.

The fastest driver to unfortunately miss out on Q3 was Daniel Ricciardo, only managing a time good enough for 11th place, but only 0.01 off of Kimi Raikkonen in 10th place, showing just how tight the midfield battle has been so far. Rookie Alexander Albon followed suit in 12th place, with Gasly in 13th, Sergio Perez in 14th and Daniil Kvyat in 15th after being sent out on used tyres by his team in Q2.

Again the situation at the top was similar, with a Charles Leclerc led front row for Ferrari, with Hamilton and Bottas trailing behind on the second row. Kevin Magnussen was an impressive 5th for HAAS, with McLaren’s new-edition Spaniard Carlos Sainz following in 6th, Max Verstappen in 7th, Grosjean in 8th and Lando Norris in 10th.

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The final qualifying session was a tense one which led to the first pole position of Charles Leclerc’s career, aboard the scarlet steed of his SF90H, outqualifying his 4-time world champion teammate by 0.2 seconds who only had limited running in Q3. This Ferrari front row lockout was a blow to the domination Mercedes had at the previous race, with Lewis Hamilton and Valterri Bottas filling up the second row in 3rd and 4th respectively.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished 5th, which was frustrating for HAAS’s Kevin Magnussen who qualified 0.005 behind him in 6th place. McLaren’s Carlos Sainz kept up the consistency, qualifying his papaya car in 7th place ahead of the other HAAS driver Romain Grosjean, who received a three-place grid penalty for impeding Lando Norris on his flying lap, preventing the Spaniard featuring in a HAAS sandwich, which might be a bit sugary with the new Rich Energy title sponsor.

Finally, we have Kimi Raikkonen putting himself in 9th place, a fair few grid places higher than his Italian teammate Giovinazzi in 15th, and Norris making good on his recent form by finishing the grid in 10th place.

BAHRAIN INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT, BAHRAIN – MARCH 30: Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 celebrate in parc ferme during the Bahrain GP at Bahrain International Circuit on March 30, 2019 in Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain. (Photo by Glenn Dunbar / LAT Images)

At the end of the day, this weekend so far has been all about Ferrari, who seemed lost down under in Australia, as if they had left some parts back at Maranello but couldn’t quite remember what, and they have bounced back in spectacular fashion and the car seems to be going as fast as it looked in pre-season Barcelona testing.

Will Ferrari be able to bounce back and secure a win, and can Charles Leclerc get his first F1 win in only his second season, and second race for Ferrari? Only time can tell, but it is looking to be a good race with lots of promise.

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Jared Hodges

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