Max Verstappen will start Formula 1’s 2023 season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix from pole position as Fernando Alonso’s practice-topping pace translated to fifth place on the grid.
Expectations were high for Alonso after he topped FP2 and FP3 in his Aston Martin and that pace was something he appeared to substantiate in Q1 but he was clearly adrift of the pole fight by the time Q3 rolled around and he ended up fifth fastest.
Verstappen topped qualifying on a 1m29.708s, with his team-mate Sergio Perez completing an all-Red Bull front row in second place, 0.138s slower than Verstappen.
The Ferrari drivers will share the second row with Charles Leclerc in third, some 0.292s shy of pole.
An errant wheelbrow flying off Leclerc’s Ferrari caused a red flag in the early stages of Q1 and the team opted to save a set of tyres by not sending him on a second and final run at the end of Q3.
Carlos Sainz will start from fourth place ahead of Alonso who outqualified Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.
Lance Stroll – still recovering from injuries sustained in a pre-season biking accident – qualified his Aston Martin in eighth place ahead of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Nico Hulkenberg who had his Q3 time deleted for track limits and will start his first race with Haas from 10th place.
McLaren’s Lando Norris was only spared a Q1 elimination by virtue of setting his lap before Williams rookie Logan Sargeant who set an identical time and was knocked out in 16th place.
The Alfa Romeos of Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu were separated by little as they qualified in 12th and 13th ahead of AlphaTauri’s highest-placed driver Yuki Tsunoda in 14th place.
Alex Albon got his Williams through to Q2 and ran in ‘the gap’ before the other drivers started their finals runs, but he couldn’t set a laptime after picking up front wing damage and will share the eighth row of the grid with team-mate Sargeant.
Kevin Magnussen admitted he’s “not in the groove” with the new Haas and struggled to a Q1 exit in 17th place ahead of rookies Oscar Piastri (McLaren) and Nyck de Vries (AlphaTauri).
Pierre Gasly is set to start his first race with Alpine from 20th and last after his fastest effort was deleted for track limits abuse – although that lap still wouldn’t have been enough for him to make it to Q2.
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1m31.295s||1m30.503s||1m29.708s|
|2||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull||1m31.479s||1m30.746s||1m29.846s|
|5||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin-Mercedes||1m31.158s||1m30.645s|
|8||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin-Mercedes||1m31.184s||1m31.127s||1m30.836s|
|12||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||1m31.504s||1m31.443s|
|13||Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||1m31.615s||1m31.473s|
|14||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT||1m31.4s||1m32.51s|
|19||Nyck de Vries||AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT||1m32.121s|