Manama, Mar. 4 (BNA): World champion Max Verstappen took pole position, ahead of his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez, in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday.
Perez beat Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc to second place, 0.138 seconds behind Verstappen, under floodlights on the desert track in Sakhir, reports the Associated Press.
“Very happy to be in first place. It’s fantastic and I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” Verstappen said after securing the 21st pole position of his career. “We showed really good racing pace but we need to show that (on Sunday).”
“I hope no crazy things happen,” said Verstappen, looking forward to the race.
Last year in Bahrain, Verstappen was chasing Leclerc when he retired a few laps from the end, and Ferrari took pole position with a 1-2 finish through Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr.
Leclerc was 0.22 behind Verstappen in qualifying and starts on the second row alongside Sainz.
“We were in the fight (for pole), which I probably wasn’t expecting. That’s a good surprise,” said Leclerc. “Realistically, they (Red Bull) look very fast. We’ve taken a step forward but I don’t think it’s enough.”
Fernando Alonso showed good pace for Aston Martin as the 41-year-old Spaniard qualified fifth, followed by Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.
Alonso’s teammate, Lance Stroll, finished eighth. Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and new Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top ten.