Race Weekend Central

Max Verstappen Leads Red Bull 1-2 in Bahrain Qualifying

Max Verstappen will open the 2023 Formula 1 season in the same fashion with which he concluded 2022 after taking pole position for Sunday’s (March 5) Bahrain Grand Prix.

“It’s amazing and I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” Verstappen told Sky Sports’ David Coulthard after the session. “I was actually positively surprised being on pole, after the struggles I had in practice. So that’s positive, and our race car is normally better, so let’s see.”

Verstappen will lead Sergio Perez from the front row of the grid with the Ferrari duo of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz lined up alongside each other on the second row of the grid.


Leclerc strangely exited his car with more than two minutes remaining in Q3, triggering speculation that there may have been a mechanical issue with his Ferrari SF-23. It was later revealed that, lacking the outright pace to challenge the Red Bulls, the team opted to conserve a set of fresh tires for Sunday’s race.

The pace of Aston Martin drivers Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll was the most pressing question for the paddock heading into Saturday. Alonso had shockingly led two of the three free practice sessions through Friday and Saturday, though the true pace of the squad in green against the rest of the field was not confirmed until qualifying came around.


Nico Hulkenberg set the surprising time of the evening’s second session by placing his Haas eighth on the time sheet, securing a place in the third round of qualifying for the American team. The German had not reached Q3 since the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2020.

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Stroll, driving with pins in his wrist following a training accident in February, made a last ditch run to push his way into the final session of the day alongside teammate Alonso.

Eliminated from Q2 were:

11. Lando Norris

12. Valtteri Bottas

13. Zhou Guanyu

14. Yuki Tsunoda

15. Alex Albon


Lando Norris and American rookie Logan Sargeant provided the evening’s trivia when the two ended the session with the exact same lap time of 1:31.652. Sargeant, by virtue of setting his time after Norris had already done so, was technically eliminated from his first F1 qualifying session by a margin of 0.000 seconds. 

Earlier in the session, debris on the track from Leclerc’s Ferrari triggered a red flag after fewer than five minutes of on-track action. The session resumed with 13 minutes and 23 seconds remaining. 

Eliminated from Q1 were:

16. Logan Sargeant 

17. Pierre Gasly

18. Kevin Magnussen

19. Oscar Piastri

20. Nyck De Vries

The Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix from the Bahrain International Circuit airs tomorrow, Sunday March 5 at 10 a.m. ET on ESPN.

2023 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying Results

About the author

Alex is the IndyCar Content Director at Frontstretch, having initially joined as an entry-level contributor in 2021. He also serves as Managing Director of The Asia Cable, a publication focused on the international affairs and politics of the Asia-Pacific region which he co-founded in 2023. With previous experience in China, Japan and Poland, Alex is particularly passionate about the international realm of motorsport and the politics that make the wheels turn - literally - behind the scenes.

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