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Verstappen takes pole for opening race Formula 1 season in Bahrain | NOW

Max Verstappen took pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday. It is the first time that the Red Bull driver is allowed to start the opening race of the Formula 1 season at the front. The Dutchman was 0.388 seconds faster than Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes.

The pole position for Verstappen is a clear signal that Red Bull has not started the season with a backlog of Mercedes for years.

The third fastest time was set by Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes. Charles Leclerc finished fourth in the Ferrari, which seems to be on the way back after a disaster year.

Bad qualifying debut for Red Bull from Pérez

Sergio Pérez did not drive a good first qualification at Red Bull. The Mexican tried to reach Q3 on a set of medium tires, so that he could start on Sunday. That gamble went wrong. Only the two Mercedes drivers, Verstappen and Gasly, succeeded in this set-up and therefore start the race on the medium tires.

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Besides Pérez, Yuki Tsunoda was also a ‘victim’ of the gamble with the mediums. The Japanese debutant of AlphaTauri previously impressed with a fast time on the soft tires, but was unable to reach Q3. Both McLaren and Ferrari drivers, Alonso and Stroll, start the race on soft. Everyone outside the top ten has free tire choice.

Mazepin pushes ahead and hinders fellow drivers

Nikita Mazepin did not make herself popular with some of his colleagues. The Russian passed a row of cars with his Haas that were preparing for a fast lap and then spun while braking on turn 1. All the drivers behind him then had to take off the gas. The question is whether everyone did. A number of fastest laps in Q1 will be viewed by the race management afterwards. Punishments are not out of the question.

One of the drivers who had to get off the gas is Sebastian Vettel. The German who switched to Aston Martin made a mistake himself in his first attempt at a fast lap and was therefore unable to complete his second run in full. Vettel will start the race on Sunday (for the time being) in eighteenth place.

Mazepin himself finished twentieth and last and only had to let his teammate and fellow debutant Mick Schumacher go ahead. Haas’s car falls short on the rest of the field.

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The Bahrain Grand Prix starts on Sunday at 5 p.m.

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