In Bahrain, Charles Leclerc beat out Max Verstappen for pole position as Ferrari and Red Bull battled it out.
After a “extremely challenging” couple of seasons for Ferrari, Charles Leclerc acknowledged his delight at securing pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
After trading lap times in practise, Leclerc and Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen went head-to-head in qualifying, with the Monegasque emerging victorious.
It built on much of pre-season potential for the Scuderia, who had a disastrous 2020 season before devoting much of 2021 to the all-new 2022 rules.
“It feels good!” Leclerc beamed after claiming his first pole since Azerbaijan last year.
“The last two years have been incredibly difficult for the team. We were quite hopeful that this was an opportunity to be back in the front and I think we have worked extremely well as a team to find ourselves again in a position to fight for better places.”
He added: “I’m very happy with today. It’s been a very tricky qualifying session. I wasn’t completely happy with my driving, but I managed to do that lap in Q3, and we’re starting from pole!”
Ferrari still wary of Red Bull ahead of race day
Given the pace shown by Verstappen and Red Bull in practise, Leclerc said that gaining pole was a bit of a surprise for him and Ferrari, and he has promised to keep his feet on the ground for the Grand Prix.
“We were pretty sure that Red Bull was going to be a bit quicker than us, also in qualifying,” Leclerc went on to comment.
“But yeah, it’s a good surprise that it wasn’t the case! Now we need to finish the weekend on a high tomorrow, but it’s not going to be easy.
“Tyre degradation here is the [main] thing, especially with this increase of weight [on the cars] that there is this year, so we need to focus on that and hopefully have a good race.”
When asked about Ferrari’s racing pace in comparison to Red Bull, Leclerc responded: “I will still stay cautious. I mean, the pace is there, but the race is long and anything can happen, so we need to stay on it.”
In the other Ferrari, Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz secured the top three spots.
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Carlos Sainz, Charles Leclerc, F1, F1 2022, Ferrari, Formula 1, Grand Prix