Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying: Charles Leclerc upstages team-mate Sebastian Vettel to take pole position, Lewis Hamilton third

30 Mar

Charles Leclerc upstaged Sebastian Vettel to claim a surprise pole position at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The young driver, who was only in his second race for Ferrari beat Vettel by nearly a third of a second as the Italian manufacturers responded well to their troubles at the first race of the season in Melbourne.

It’s a Ferrari one-two while Hamilton will start the grid in third

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes had no answer to Ferrari’s pace,with the world champion to line up third, with team-mate Valtteri Bottas fourth.

Mercedes ripped up the testing form book to dominate in Melbourne a fortnight ago, but the silver cars were handed a thrashing under the lamps that light up this Sakhir circuit.

Yet, it was the performance of Leclerc who, aged just 21 years and five months, and in only his second season in F1, delivered a message of intent to elder statesman team-mate, Vettel.

Leclerc was not allowed to pass the four-time world champion in the closing stages of the season-opening race due to the German’s de facto number one status.

But the Ferrari hierarchy will surely be forced into a rethink given the impressive nature of Leclerc’s showing here.

Vettel, limited to just one shot at pole after making a mistake in the second phase of qualifying, will be alarmed.

So, too, will Hamilton and Mercedes as they could have been forgiven for leaving the first race with their sights set on a record-equalling sixth consecutive constructors’ championship.

Hamilton congratulates Leclerc after the Monaco man earned pole position

Now they know they are in a fight, with Ferrari matching McLaren and Williams with their 62nd front-row lockout.

Max Verstappen qualified fifth for Red Bull, while a rejuvenated McLaren managed to get both of their cars into Q3 for the first time since Malaysia 2017, with Carlos Sainz to line up sixth and British teenager Lando Norris 10th.

Williams are a team in deep crisis, and they will occupy the last row. British novice George Russell, and Robert Kubica were an eye-watering 1.5 sec slower than the next car.