He hasn’t put a foot wrong in Bahrain, topping the times in first and final practice and then setting the pace in all three segments of qualifying, finishing three tenths clear of four-time world champion team mate Sebastian Vettel.
Despite the Silver Arrows failing to make it onto the front row here for the second year in succession – Lewis Hamilton ending up third on the grid, ahead of Valtteri Bottas – Hamilton was optimistic that the Prancing Horse could still be defeated in Sunday’s race.
Decent day in the office. Great work over night from the team and am happy with the progress we made. However, we have work to do so we will keep our heads down. Congrats to Charles on his first pole. Tomorrow could be fun for us all. Let’s go!!! pic.twitter.com/kiEijuq1ki
Ferrari led every free practice session and qualifying segment in Bahrain, with Charles Leclerc heading a one-two for the team in Q3 as he secured his maiden pole position. But having been 0.6s adrift at the end of the qualifying simulations in FP2, Hamilton was cheered to have halved that deficit by the end of qualifying, ending up 0.324s off Leclerc’s time – and he believed that there’s more to come from Mercedes when the lights go out on Sunday.
“I’m truly happy,” said Leclerc. “Obviously in the last race I was not very happy with my qualifying lap, especially in Q3. I tried really hard not to do the same mistakes here and it worked. I’m very satisfied, I put my best three sectors together, which is what I wanted – but of course you can always do better.
With Leclerc’s pole and Vettel’s second place, Ferrari tie Williams and McLaren for the most front-row lockouts in F1 history (62)
Valtteri Bottas was out-qualified by a team mate for the first time in seven visits to Bahrain, finishing fourth behind fellow Silver Arrow Lewis Hamilton
It was a remarkable turnaround of form for Ferrari who dominated pre-season testing but were no match for Mercedes in Australia. In Bahrain, they’ve been the team to beat, securing their 62nd front row lockout - a joint record with Williams and McLaren.
Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto said both drivers would be free to fight for victory this season during his media session on Friday.
When asked about the strategy for the start and the run down to Turn 1, Leclerc said: “To be honest, we haven’t done the pre-race meeting yet so at the moment I don’t know. I’ll do everything to keep my first place, but we are a team, we have to work together.”