All Red Bull front row in Bahrain

Max Verstappen begins title defence by securing the first pole position of the 2023 Formula 1 season

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 04: Sparks fly behind Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 04, 2023 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202303040299 // Usage for editorial use only //

Both Red Bull cars will line up on the front row for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, with Max Verstappen securing the first pole position of the season.

The reigning champion will start alongside teammate Sergio Perez, while Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc settled for third, opting to save tyres instead of attempting to improve his time.

The first session was disrupted when Leclerc’s Ferrari shed carbon fibre, leaving debris acorss the track, forcing the race director to red flag the session.

All three rookies – Williams’ Logan Sargeant, AlphaTauri’s Nyck De Vries and Oscar Piastri at McLaren – were all eliminated in Q1, along with Kevin Magnussen, who couldn’t get a flying lap together at the end of the session, and Pierre Gasly, who had his best time deleted for violating track limits.

Sargeant was unlucky not to progress, setting exactly the same time as Lando Norris in 15th, but as the McLaren driver set the time first he progressed instead of the American.

Alex Albon wasn’t able to set a time in Q2, forcing him to settle for 15th, while Norris was denied a spot in the top 10 after a late charge by Lance Stroll.

Having topped the timesheets in two of the practice sessions, Fernando Alonso came in to qualifying as one of the favourites for pole, but he set just one lap time in Q3, leaving him down on the third row for tomorrow’s grid.

Completing the top 10, Nico Hulkenberg secured a spot on the fifth row of the grid on his first qualifying as a full-time F1 driver since 2019, after three years as a reserve driver with Racing Point and Aston Martin.

Provisional qualifying result:

1 Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)

3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)

5. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin)

6. George Russell (Mercedes)

7. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

8. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)

9. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)

10. Nico Hulkenberg (Haas)

11. Lando Norris (McLaren)

12. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo)

13. Guanyu Zhou (Alfa Romeo)

14. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)

15. Alex Albon (Williams)

16. Logan Sargeant (Williams)

17. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)

18. Oscar Piastri (McLaren)

19. Nyck De Vries (AlphaTauri)

20. Pierre Gasly (Alpine)

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