Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022

Leclerc beats Verstappen to pole for season-opener as Ferrari start 2022 in front

2022 Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying

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Charles Leclerc put Ferrari on pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix by beating Max Verstappen by a tenth of a second.

In a close fought battle throughout the qualifying hour, Leclerc’s final effort was good enough to see him take pole, 0.123s ahead of world champion Verstappen.

Carlos Sainz Jnr backed up Ferrari’s impressive pace with third on the grid, ahead of Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull in fourth. Lewis Hamilton will start fifth on the grid, ahead of former team mate Valtteri Borras in sixth and Kevin Magnussen seventh for Haas.


The first phase of qualifying was also the first time all year that teams were all running at full performance as they looked to avoid an early exit from qualifying and a start from the back of the grid.

Max Verstappen set the early pace in the Red Bull, but then the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr went three tenths faster than the world champion to go quickest

Mercedes’ first efforts were considerably slower than their rivals, with Lewis Hamilton eight tenths off Leclerc’s best lap.

As time wound down, Daniel Ricciardo needed to improve to avoid the drop zone and jumped from 18th up to 15th, but was eliminated after team mate Lando Norris improved to eighth, ultimately finishing the session in 18th.

Zhou Guanyu saved himself from a Q1 exit on debut by jumping to 14th place, while Alex Albon narrowly avoided being knocked out in 15th.

That left Yuki Tsunoda as the first driver eliminated in the AlphaTauri, after he missed the entire third practice session. Nico Hulkenberg was knocked out in 17th on his return to Formula 1 standing in for Sebastian Vettel, with Daniel Ricciardo audibly disappointed to have his qualifying session ended in 18th place in the McLaren.

Lance Stroll was eliminated in 19th to cap a frustrating start to the season for Aston Martin and Nicholas Latifi was the slowest driver and will start tomorrow’s race from the very back of the grid.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Red Bull 1’32.750
17 Nico Hulkenberg Aston Martin-Mercedes 1’32.777
18 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 1’32.945
19 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1’33.032
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1’33.634

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With the rule requiring drivers who qualify in the top ten to use the tyres with which they set their fastest time in Q2 having been dropped, the second qualifying session would be a straight shoot-out to see who would reach the third and final phase.

Verstappen wasted no time in taking to the circuit and posting a 1’30.757 – the fastest time of the weekend and six tenths of a second faster than team mate Sergio Perez.

Leclerc’s first effort of the session was good enough for seconds, but almost sixth tenths from Verstappen’s best. Kevin Magnussen put his Haas up to fourth place, but was prevented from going back out to the circuit after the team informed him of a hydraulic issue on his car.

Albon took advantage of a clear track to put in his one and only flying lap of the session, going 14th fastest and deciding to retire from the rest of the session.

Leclerc improved on his second effort, before team mate Sainz went even faster, but was still three-hundredths of a second slower than Verstappen.

As the chequered flag flew, Lando Norris was unable to improve enough to reach the top ten and was forced to settle for 13th. Both Mercedes improved, but only to fifth for Hamilton and sixth for Russell, respectively.

Esteban Ocon sat on the bubble in tenth place and Pierre Gasly duly improved his time to get through into the top ten and eliminate the Alpine in the process. Ocon was joined by Mick Schumacher in 12th, who abandoned his final flying lap after a mistake through turn 11.

Norris was out in 13th, with Albon 14th. Zhou was the final driver eliminated and will start his grand prix debut from 15th position.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1’31.782
12 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari 1’31.998
13 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1’32.008
14 Alexander Albon Williams-Mercedes 1’32.664
15 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1’33.543

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The battle for the first pole position of the season looked like it was shaping up to be a fight between Verstappen and the two Ferraris.

As the session began, the Mercedes of Russell and Hamilton were the first onto the circuit, ahead of the Ferraris and then the two Red Bulls.

With the Mercedes both on used tyres, Hamilton went fastest of the two, but they were both immediately beaten by the Ferraris with Sainz less than half a tenth ahead of Leclerc. Verstappen was unable to match the Ferraris and went provisionally third, while Perez beat both Mercedes to go fourth.

For their second and final run, the Mercedes took to the track with a brand new set of soft tyres. Both Russell and Hamilton improved, but a mistake for Russell in the first corner saw him a second slower than his team mate at the line.

Leclerc improved to go ahead of Sainz and take provisional pole, leaving Verstappen the only driver with a likely chance to deny Ferrari the first pole of the year. Verstappen set a personal best, but it was not enough to replace Leclerc at the top of the times and secured pole position for Ferrari.

Sainz will line up on the second row behind Verstappen, with Perez alongside in fourth. Hamilton will start fifth with Bottas securing Alfa Romeo’s best grid position since the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix.

Magnussen will start seventh for Haas on his return to Formula 1, with Fernando Alonso alongside. Russell will start ninth, with Gasly rounding out the top ten.

Top ten in Q3

1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1’30.558
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1’30.681
3 Carlos Sainz Jnr Ferrari 1’30.687
4 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1’30.921
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’31.238
6 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1’31.560
7 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1’31.808
8 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 1’32.195
9 George Russell Mercedes 1’32.216
10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Red Bull 1’32.338

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2022 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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164 comments on “Leclerc beats Verstappen to pole for season-opener as Ferrari start 2022 in front”

  1. And Sainz

    1. Stroll was outqualified by a journeyman who until last week was sitting on the sofa watching TV and eating crisps…

      1. Careful, there are some here who think that STR is the next big thing (results not withstanding!).

        1. it’s actually called Alpha Tauri now…

          1. The stupidity in you makes me giggle :)

          2. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
            20th March 2022, 11:13


        2. To be fair he is still better than the other drivers that daddy got into F1 recently. Schumacher and Mazepin.

          1. Exactly

      2. @mrboerns the journeyman I meant here is Hulkenberg, nothing to do with alpha Tauri!

  2. Excellent from Leclerc. Scruffy from Verstappen. Russell…
    Looking forward to the race. If race pace is something to go by, should be fun.

    1. I think in quali atm ferrari and red bull might be similar, leclerc is traditionally good in qualifying and verstappen a little less so, so 1 tenth in favour of leclerc is not that much of a surprise imo. Russell was on it all time btw, similar to hamilton, except q3, and it’s only his 2nd mercedes weekend.

  3. Enjoyable session and great to see two different sets of rivals battle it out. Looks nicely set up for tomorrow. Well done Leclerc.

  4. Yes come on Ferrari!
    Ps. Lol at Russell being outqualified by Bottas.
    PS2. Great job by KMag

    1. If Mick gets Covid this year (hopefully not), Haas can replace him with Romain.

      1. @macaque Unlikely, as Romain’s said he would’ve declined an F1 return even if he got called.

        1. Well, talk is cheap. I think (not too sure) that K-Mag said something similar. There’s quite nothing like an F1 drive as Alonso has surely shown us.

          1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            20th March 2022, 14:12

            @sebsronnie you are correct. Specifically, KMAG said he’s never take another drive that had no chance of winning. He obviously missed the sport despite wins and podiums in IMSA (I think it’s IMSA)

            The difference between him and Romain was he was driving sports cars and Romain is in open wheel like F1, with a paddock that is much friendlier than F1. He genuinely prefers it to F1.

        2. Would he still feel/say the same now that he’s seen how much Haas has improved? Never say never.

          1. Indeed, judging by magnussen’s quick change of mind, he’s come too.

  5. That’s very encouraging for the season! I thought we were heading for a Red Bull domination but it looks close! Mercedes needs quite a lot of work to close that gap but I full expect them to do so and then have a three way fight!

    1. @afonic Oops I think I hit report comment by accident. Was just going to say let’s see about race pace but otherwise yeah, I’m not sure about a domination (remains to be seen) but I do wonder if Ferrari might end up splitting points while Max gets the lion’s share at RBR. Of course it is such early days and we’ll know more tomorrow and then that ‘info’ might become redundant soon too. As they’ve been saying, it’s going to be a development race, and what effect Merc has when they get better will depend on what the points situation is like while they catch up to a moving and presumably advancing target at Ferrari and RBR.

      First of all, let’s see what the racing is like tomorrow. So so exciting.

      1. It amazes me the Report Comment function remains this easy to mistakenly report comments. How hard could it be to add a confirmation?

        1. Same thing for the edit button.

      2. On topic, I would rule out domination by any team for this year, if mercedes as it looks like (but indeed we have to see race pace, in 2021 merc was stronger in races than in qualis) is a bit behind, then I doubt any other team will run away.

  6. Mr. Saturday? Don’t think so.

    1. It’s early days, personally don’t think it’s fair to judge his performance from just one competitive session.

      1. @jazz For sure. @huhhii Not sure why you’d even go there given their current state and such such early days. Would you already say Max? WDC? Don’t think so?

        Don’t think so.

        1. @robbie max did win his first race for rb though. And yes from his first race we are calling him to be WDC.

          1. Max first race win was because 2 Mercedes crashed into each other. Maybe in today’s race Leclerc and Verstappen will crash and Russel wins. Really useless comments going on, so I’m adding useless commentary for fun

  7. Let’s see who has the better race car. Bahrain has a reputation of crazy races. If these cars can follow closely… 57 laps is a lot.

    1. There is also the chance of unreliability with everyone’s engines turned up. I wouldn’t bet on anyone that’s for sure. Red Bull look to have the better race pace but then we thought they would get pole easily too so who knows?
      They are close, that’s all that matters and with the engine freeze we hopefully won’t see anyone too far ahead for 4 years.

  8. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    19th March 2022, 16:18

    Nice to see there’s going to be a good fight between two teams and 4 likable drivers. Sure, Perez has some work to do, but at least he’s got the 4th position covered better than before.

    Racepace for tomorrow seems like a slight edge for Red Bull, but Leclerc has enough experience in the top of the field to give Verstappen a good fight for his money.

    1. @barryfromdownunder:
      If we survive the first lap I still worry for the Ferrari pit wall though…

    2. Well, the Verstappens do love a fight! Hopefully he can keep it clean for a change, but I doubt it. It’ll be fun to see him take his terrible driving to someone other than Hamilton so other fans can see just how bad he is in wheel to wheel racing.

      1. Jan-Marten Spit
        19th March 2022, 17:56

        The facts say that Hamilton is #1 at driving into other cars and costing those drivers points. That Hamilton and his some if his groupies claim the opposite is also a fact.

      2. ah, max tinfoiler in action. max is nothing without Adrian/Adrian’s design! We will believe max when he drives a donkey to the finish line… sounds familiar? that has been thing the max tinfoilers were chanting all these years. now it must def be the car no talent involved. even with a rocket ship, he came up second wah wah wah…

        1. You guys are ridiculous. HAM and VER are both amazing drivers. Cut the crap.

    3. Not really sure what that implication is meant to mean about likable drivers. Sound like a typical racist cheap shot at a legend of the sport who has also proven himself to be a legend of a man and done more than anyone else on the grid/in most sport anywhere to be a genuine sustainable force for good for all of humanity.

      Especially when the ‘likable’ four you’re referring to includes a champion who, though I don’t fundamentally dislike him, is a pampered all-racing no-personality from birth typical ‘racing brat’, son of an abuser raised on (and at times quotably reflecting) similar values, and consistent with all that, a long term demonstrated dirty driver (Sainz is also a bit questionable too but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. He’s not his father). But yes the four of them all seem like rather pleasant young men generally speaking…as do all other 16 on the grid…including Lewis lol. Strange statement.

      But yes because the same people forever is also boring I’m also pumped from a sporting context to see Mercedes struggle! So keen to see Ferrari in the fight.

      1. his profile pic tells everything one needs to know, in my opinion

      2. all this drivel would not be worth dignifying with a reply, but I am genuinely surprised at the suggestion that Carlos Sainz Sr. the rally legend is a dirty driver.

      3. The old your racist for calling someone else a racist never flies. Hamilton has the biggest fanbase of any F1 driver, but the post was an obvious dig at Hamilton, the commentator doesn’t like him.

    4. Likable? What does that even mean?

      1. I would not want to be likeable to Barry. Kinda scares me…

    5. Haven’t seen anyone refer to Max as likable, but ok.

      1. I personally never said anything against the likeability of drivers, when I consider a quali like this preferable it’s cause I’ve never seen mercedes in a chasing position ever since hamilton joined, always the best or joint best car, so for me it’s interesting to see what he can do with a slower car, so far so good, although russell seems to have lost it in q3, was matching him before, and if the mercedes isn’t a rocket ship in the race, I think it could be interesting to see where hamilton can get, considering he’s usually good at tyre management.

        As for verstappen and leclerc, we know it’s not just the car, because both of them already showed what they can do with a bad car, like the last 2 years’ ferrari or verstappen’s first year in toro rosso.

        1. So I am sure you were here in 2017 and 18 and 19?

          We’re you just not watching the races?

          Mercedes we’re still behind at the half way mark in 17/18 – and clearly chasing in 19.

          The revisionist history on this site amazes me frankly.

  9. So does everyone believe Lewis now…? Cracking job by Charlie. So very close for Carlos to lock out the front row. It’s just so good to have Ferrari back! Disappointing for Russell but I did find it a bit amusing to see Bottas ahead.

    1. Naughty Neutral
      19th March 2022, 16:35

      Actually, no. They’re not that far down, still in the top 6. They might not complete for a win in this race, but I think they’re not as bad as they are trying to make us believe.

      Lessee how things look like in four or five races…

      1. “We think we’re 0.6 to 0.8 down from the other teams”.

        Hamilton finishes 0.7 seconds behind LeClerc in qualifying.

        Fans: Nope, they’re not as bad as they say they are.

        Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?!?!?

        1. +1
          He predicted the gap very accurately.

          1. Lol no, He was faster in Q2 if you guys paid attention.

      2. So Ham predicted the gap, which you seem to want to ignore; so I expect you to ignore Ham’s ‘The car has plenty of potential but we dont know if its one, two or more races before we unlock it’ when they finally do.

        1. It’s already solved. They forgot to remove the sandbags before Q3.
          It’s al that low hanging fruit that makes it harder…

          1. Silly child

          2. @ian dearing
            will you hear anything different from a max tinfoiler? now we can say it is not max, it is his car safely to mirror their annoying chants all these years…

      3. Yeah cos who needs every point going? It’s not like F1 championships are ever that close anyway.

    2. If anything it proves that they were moaning again. They are within the top 3 at the first quali. Tweak some more and they’re back.

    3. I’m one of the those who believe the least what wolff and such say, but I can at least believe they had some issues, which impacts at least quali, let’s see the race pace too though, since in 2021 they were much better in race than quali and keep in mind they have a history of coming back from issues quickly, 2021 being an example.

      1. You can see the issues!

        Until the car stops jumping down the straight and round the corners it will remain uncompetitive. It’s that simple.

        For all those that suggested Bottas was crap and LH will now be exposed?

        That got old really quickly did it not?

  10. Great to see it close but of course my money is on RBR’s race pace and Max for the win.

    1. Max has the pace to win GP. Though Perez must up his game and stay in touch with the front runners to close Ferrari strategic options.

      1. @tifoso1989 Yeah for sure, and I’d like to think he will.

      2. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
        20th March 2022, 11:14

        @tifoso1989 you put way too much faith in Ferrari’s strategy ability

        1. @fullcoursecaution
          I’ve already mentioned in a previous comment that Mercedes and especially RBR are light years ahead of Ferrari in track operations : strategy, pitstops, reactivity with regard to unpredictable issues (Leclerc’s gearbox issue in Monaco last year for example) and if they want seriously to challenge them over a season they need to march them in that specific area.
          Now, we’re sure the designers, aerodynamicists and the PU guys have made a good job. Ferrari must be sharp in track operations as well otherwise the hard work made in the factory in the last couple of years can be thrown on track in a blink of an eye.

          1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
            20th March 2022, 12:07

            @tifoso1989 I hope you are right.
            Last time they had a top two car their entire strategy seemed to be just sacrifice Raikkonen and see what happens. Don’t think that’s going to fly this year since the drivers are so evenly matched. I really hope they don’t just revert to type and shaft Carlos to help out the chosen one

          2. @fullcoursecaution
            The problem with 2 evenly matched driver is to ensure fairness while at the same time give them the best possible strategy at the crucial moments in races. It’s difficult but it’s manageable and this is when the strategists start earning their money.

            There have to be certain arrangements of who for example will have the best strategy depending on their position because sometimes someone by force will have a certain strategic advantage. For example if the undercut is powerful and drivers are running close to each others then the leading car will be the first to pit. The problem till last year is that Ferrari strategists seem not able to identify the best strategy.

            Carlos Sainz was doing very well in the Hungarian GP and his lap times were still consistent. His engineer asked him to pit but he refused and later it he proved to have made the right call. Not to mention the pitstops…

    2. I like seeing a strong ferrari and red bull, but obviously I would generally trust red bull more than ferrari operationally, also when it comes to the development; for now I wouldn’t know who could have the better race pace, but can certainly be an interesting race.

  11. Sergey Martyn
    19th March 2022, 16:23

    Yeah, but folks, just look what especially K-Mag and Bottas delivered! Unsung heroes of a new era.

    1. I agree. And Lewis did well as well, looking at where George ended up

      1. Russel said he tried a new approach in Q3 and it didnt work out. He was faster in Q2 so seems plausible.

  12. Is it only me.. seeing glitchy sector time graphic ?
    Like Russell was shown best s1, in Q3 but still down on time..
    Something confusing

    1. Yea, if the first car on the screen did a purple sector, his sector stayed purple for the rest of the lap.

    2. Running on empty
      19th March 2022, 16:32

      Yeah I noticed that as well.
      Maybe the purple referred to this session (Q3) and the yellow time deficit to the entire qualifying session.
      At another stage two drivers were shown with purple second sectors at the same time.
      There definitely seem to be a couple of bugs to work out

    3. Yep, and the yellow, green, purple indicator seems to have been shrunk. Annoying.

    4. yep, saw the same bugs. Some testing would have been nice beforehand.

    5. And Leclerc was shown to be slower on his S1 sector time while he improved in his last attempt and there the No Time graphics that appeared briefly which made think that times were deleted due to track limits.

    6. RandomMallard
      19th March 2022, 17:49

      Yep I saw that as well. That said, it’s new graphics and there are often teething issues with that. Who can forget Firstname Lastname after all? I’m sure they’ll be fixed soon enough

      1. RandomMallard,

        Who can forget Firstname Lastname after all?

        I still couldn’t believe it when I first saw it live. That was the 2017 Australian GP if I’m not wrong. Being an IT guy myself, I know that this stuff happens that’s why there are always pre-production platforms identical to the production platforms that serve to the software apps/patches being used one final time in production identical environment before being released to production.
        I suppose those Firstname Lastname messages were displayed in case of a failure to get the real driver name from the live data feed : (realDriverName != null ? realDriverName : “Firstname Lastname”). That was better than the null message :)

        1. Ahah, yes, that was a fun incident!

    7. Not only did the new graphics not work at times some of the information like driver number or team logo were illegible. As an old saying goes, of it isn’t broke etc. Old clearly readable graphics still in F2 & assume F3 and they need to bring back to F1 asap. Not everything needs changing for the sake of it, could have put the money to better use in refunding those still drying out and with hypothermia from the Spa debacle!

      1. Tommy Scragend
        19th March 2022, 20:03

        I’m not a fan of the new graphics at all. There wasn’t anything wrong with the ones they had last year. If it ain’t broke…

    8. The new graphics are a step back. Watching the Channel 4 highlights and it just doesn’t read as easily as what they had last year. Really disappointed they had to change something I thought they had right, seemingly just for the sake of change. I hope they revert.

      They didn’t even have the cut off highlighted most of the time. I know we all should know the positions but it’s just quicker to glance and see people under/over a cut off line.

  13. The gap between Verstappen and Pérez is quite small by their usual standards, so perhaps Verstappen left a bit on the table. Regardless, it’s great to see Ferrari and Red Bull so close. Mercedes behind, but not too much; they claimed to be further behind in race pace, so that’ll be interesting to see. Russell made a mess of his final lap, but it happens.

    It’s a bit surprising with all the talk being about the aero changes, that the Ferrari-powered teams Alfa Romeo have also made a jump up the other, while the Mercedes-powered McLaren and Aston Martin are also not looking too competitive. Could be a coincidence of course, it’s still only one real session.

  14. And as usual Alonso doesn’t exists for the Sky commentators.

    1. Kind of agree. He had enough pace for 6th but messed up his lap. Hopefully his good starts can make up for it tomorrow

      1. Might as well say all the drivers had the pace for pole, they just weren’t quick enough. Except Charles…

    2. He had his moments with ferrari, now he is just an old hag.

  15. Interesting first qualifying of 2022. Pleasantly surprised that Ferrari made sure that Redbull wasn’t alone at the front. Max didn’t look very happy. Good to see Lewis performing well, and I am sure that the haters are annoyed that the 7-time world champion is not being “exposed” by George, as they hoped he would. Mercedes seems to have a really difficult car, and I would like to hear more from the analysts how true it is that Mercedes is also struggling with their power unit. Have they fallen behind in both PU performance AND chassis? So gutted for them, but we know how fast they can recover. Really great to see Haas performing so well.

  16. Russell out qualified by Valtteri

  17. Alfa Romeo ahead of Mercedes and Valtteri alongside Lewis? Laughs in finnish :D

  18. Give Leclerc a shot on pole and he’s really goings for it. Amazing qualifier, arguably the best on the grid.
    But let’s wait see what Red Bull race pace will be. Their longer runs seemed impressive but maybe Ferrari were a little bit sandbagging there as well.

    1. The boy is a great hot lapper.

  19. Can we now appreciate how good Bottas actually is. People moan about him being dreadful but his single lap paces has always been top5. Who knows, maybe this Hamilton guy is actually quite good?

    1. Going against a rookie in his first race dosent speak well for how good the car actually is.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        19th March 2022, 16:50

        He did have the least testing out of any driver excluding ricciardo. Then missed a load of practice for this weekend too. It is pretty impressive how well he did factoring all that in. If I’m correct, I thought he beat his rookie team mate by about 1.5 seconds, which is quite a lot I’d say.

        1. Precisely Ben. Interesting to see how some will still try to diminish his performance.

    2. Have been telling it for years. Bottas is a great qualifier. Most Hamilton critics, rate Bottas poorly because that suits their agenda. Most have been saying Bottas is worse than Perez. Put Bottas in Redbull and he will be so close to Max in Qualifying.

      1. lexusreliability?
        19th March 2022, 16:46

        That’s crazy logic. Bottas has the one lap pace and he beat Perez handsomely in the standings. If Red Bull had a better driver pair like they did with Ricciardo, Red Bull would have walked the constructors. The problem is Ricciardo was a bit too good for Max for Helmut Marko’s liking.

        1. Ricciardo left of his own accord, Red Bull wanted to keep him and was surprised he walked away.

          1. lexusreliability?
            19th March 2022, 17:12


            I seem to remember Red Bull offering Ricciardo a contract that was insulting particularly given he was very competitive against Max. Then comes the politics with Marko and Horner who were already saying “We will build a team around Max“. I’m sure you’ve experienced work/organisations before where politics and favouritism trump actual performance and results. Typically in those situations, people who do not deserve promotions get them simply because of bias from the top brass. Ricciardo had 2 choices- accept number 2 (like Perez) or walk. He chose the latter for his own pride and confidence.

          2. Mr Squiggle
            20th March 2022, 2:54

            Red Bull wanted to keep Riccardo so they could stack the deck in favour of Max.

            Just like they did to Ric to get Max his first win in Spain. And what they did to Checo in Abu Dhabi to get Max his first championship

            Essentially, they were looking to repeat the driver set up strategy they had with Vettel and Webber

        2. José Lopes da Silva
          20th March 2022, 10:35

          “Typically in those situations, people who do not deserve promotions get them simply because of bias from the top brass.”
          Again, the eternal argument that Jos Verstappen amassed comprosing pictures of Helmut Marko and threatened to release them if he didn’t favoured his boy.

    3. Pity he couldn’t shave points off of Max last year though. That is how good he is in my mind.

  20. Lewis is just gonna sit back and watch Ferrari and Red Bull lock horns, then glide into the Win…

    1. Verstappen only need to tangle with 1 Ferrari for the other Ferrari driver to glide through and win :) The Ferrari teammates are much closer in performance than their RBR counterparts.

      1. Also Lewis will be battling in the midfield for a good first half of the season.

        1. Dare I say, Hamilton may find himself battling Bottas more often this season.

  21. That Haas in the hands of a top driver is a top 6 car at this stage. Put a top qualifier like Bottas in it and he will get p5 or p6. What a turnaround of Haas with Russian money.
    Great job by the Ferrari boys.

    1. I agree. Image if they still had Mazepin. He would have been P15 if he made it our of Q1.

  22. Nice to see alonso challenge for best of the rest in the 7th fastest car… as The Race put it lol!! And bottas in the 9th fastest lol!

    1. And bottas in the 9th fastest lol!

      Bottas is 6th.

      1. Depends on how you look at it…

  23. Far too early to speculate, but I’m gonna do it anyway….Russell 1s down on Ham and outqualified by Bottas

    Did Russell just catch Bottas on a bad day….? Other than that we have 2 weak benchmarks of an injured Kubica at Latifi.

    Had the cars been an evolution of last year, you could understand the delta. However all drivers this year have had a completely different car to learn. You would expect the younger drivers to be able to adapt quicker than the older drivers all else being equal wouldn’t you.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      19th March 2022, 16:57

      Bottas did seem to be under big pressure that weekend. The qualifying session was very close, but then it was the shortest, most simple f1 track in years. Russell got a better launch (which if you look back at williams actually was a weakness he seemed to have) and then his pace seemed a bit better than Bottas, but Bottas was catching until the chaos happened which people don’t seem to remember. Despite Kubica being supposedly weak, by the end of lap 1, he was ahead of Russell in 11 out of the 19 races they started on the grid which to me indicates russell does have an issue with his launches. He’s improved but latifi still quite reguarly jumped him at the start. I think people seriously over rated russell based on qualifying and didn’t notice that his race pace was only slightly better than his team mate, who most voted close to last.

      I’m not yet convinced russell is any better than Bottas.

      1. lexusreliability?
        19th March 2022, 17:06


        +1, Thanks for that. You articulated it much better than my response to @tifoso1989

    2. First q3 lap both mercs on used tyres. Second lap, Russell locked up badly in turn one and lost 3/4 of a second. So not really a representative time from him.

      1. @roadrunner

        It wasn’t a representative time true, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it was a mistake on the money lap, which has cost him 3 places in the first race of the season

  24. lexusreliability?
    19th March 2022, 16:43

    The irony of people who said “put George next to Hamilton because Bottas is wasting that seat” and then this happens.

    1. 1st race.

    2. This is Russel’s first race with Mercedes in a new generations of cars that require a new way of driving. Expecting Russel to beat Hamilton in the first qualy session is an overstatement. In my opinion, Hamilton is second only to Fernando Alonso in the technical department. It’s normal that Russel struggles against him. We’ve already seen what happens when Russel and Bottas went head to head .

      1. lexusreliability?
        19th March 2022, 17:04

        Firstly these new cars are well, new to everyone. So I don’t think that argument is valid- each driver is having to adapt and figure them out. As for Bottas vs Russell, IIRC Russell did get outqualified and although he overtook Bottas, I seem to remember a cat and mouse with a flactuating gap until Russell had technical issues. I’m just saying- maybe Bottas isn’t as mediocre as people say he is.

        1. The great drivers figure things out a lot faster than the journeymen. Bottas is mediocre.

      2. It’s also Bottas first race for Alfa.

        Mr Saturday indeed.

        1. Bottas is way more experienced than Russel.

    3. Russell was slower than he should have been, although being the “new Bottas” is definitely a real possibility.

    4. lol some people are expecting Russell to win the entire championship on his first race

  25. I have to say great job by Ferrari to finally deliver testing promise.

    I’m going to be really disappointed if it’s just RB Vs Ferrari only this year.

    I think to be a worthy Champion you gotta be in a long season duel against Hamilton/Merc, just as last season proved.

    Even the commentary today was a bit flat.

    1. Haha are you serious?!

      It’s refreshing to not see him there for a change. Thought he was supposed to be the best driver ever?

      1. How’s your orange team doing Ben?

        1. Always been a team supporter not a driver. McLaren will be back up there again eventually. For the front. I’d rather anyone win than Merc. So today is looking very promising.

    2. Ben (@scuderia29)
      19th March 2022, 22:02

      You’re only a worthy champion if you best Hamilton/ mercedes? Damn someone tell every champion pre-verstappen that they’re not worthy of the title

      1. Lol so how is Hamilton worthy of his 6 titles he’s won in a completely dominant car? If anything I’d say he’s even less deserving of them. Only ones I say he actually deserved are 2008 and 2016 others were gifted to him.

  26. Cars look great, nice much more competitive field than I expected for race 1, nobody seems to have the jump on being miles ahead, will be interesting to see in 5 races time who’s where. All in all really exciting, still all feels very much like F1, right down to the inconsistent track limits policing 🤷‍♂️

  27. Hamilton is a great driver for sure he delivered again when needed, just i would wish him talk less.

    1. Excuse me?

      1. It’s alright…

    2. I never understood statements like this. If he is asked a question by journalist what are you expecting him to do? Say no comnent? He has no control over what is asked of him or what is reported on him when he does respond. Same for all drivers. He is a 7 time world champion so of course the media is going to report on him more. Shocking…15yrs later…go figure…

      1. Hamilton is a type who whines more than older women, it is nothing about media or what he has to answer just listen to him in the car when things not going his way …. go figure … i think

        1. I listen to his broadcast radio messages and don’t get a hater vibe about him like you do. The younger drivers like Tsunoda/Norris and Verstappen whine far more and use far more expletives and swear too much about other drivers. Look at your user name, Hamilton is in your head lol

        2. Racist and sexist all in one package?

        3. Amazing… “i think”. What the heck are you saying…ever?

  28. For a moment there i thought Botta might do better than his former partner, but Hamiltons pride would not allow that to happen. Let see if Bottas has the car set for qualifying or racing.

    I have the feeling Russel is set up differently to lewis, he says he had no rear grip, which means less down force, which suggests some kind experiment with the profile of the car. Less down force is what the RD’s do when they want more stright line speed, it seems the Mercedes may have borrowed a little too much from that branch.

    1. Does the possibility his tyres may have been cold also cross your mind.

      1. It might if he were a rookie, but this is the man whose suppose to be a rival to Hamilton. I’ll give him the benifit of doubt and blaim his setup.

    2. How long will you people keep trying to push the narrative that Lewis only does better when his car is better? Fair enough, Russell made a mistake in the first sector in his last lap, otherwise he might have been close or slightly ahead. But from the overall performance during all 3 qualifying sessions, you can say that they are very similar in performance, if you want to be generous to George. Not very different from what we saw with Bottas. Meanwhile, the Finn is putting out a great performance in the Alfa, and if he keeps doing that, it will only support that 1) he’s indeed a very good driver, and 2) that Lewis is THAT good.

  29. Stroll being outqualified by 3 tenths by a guy that’s sitting in a race car for the first time in 18 months, also being the very first time he drives a car of this generation.

    That what we all wanted to see (except Stroll)

  30. lexusreliability?
    19th March 2022, 17:14

    Hamiltons pride would not allow that to happen

    So Hamilton is now sabotaging George’s car and setup? Take off the tinfoil hat

    1. lexusreliability?
      19th March 2022, 17:15


    2. The team told George to push in the warm up lap. When he started his attempt his tires were gone.
      Not my story but totos

  31. Simply put the Ferrari PU is looking strong in every car it is in and it’s still not fully developed.

  32. I loce seeing the first three within .13 s, makes me cautiously optimistic for the race, I hope the margin stays the same for the season. Merc should also join the fight whan they get to grips with the car, making this a three way fight. I hope McLaren get better. Great showing for KMag, dissapointed by Schumacher. Hulk doing his thing as well as always.

    1. I think Max will win quite easily as the RB race pace will be too strong for Ferrari.

      The main interest will be to see if Hamilton can pressurize Perez at all.

  33. If we keep P1, we will win the race

    1. Now that is a statement even the special brits on this site would find hard to find fault with.

  34. Impressive session from Lewis, Bottas & Kevin. Really outdrove their material as it seems

  35. How cool is this? Ferrari on the front?

    As a Verstappen fan, I quite hope he does not ride in to thr sunset, and we get 3 team title fight this year.

    May the best man win. (needs not be Verstappen)

  36. johnandtonic
    19th March 2022, 19:28

    What is going on at MB with Russell. They put him (toto confirmed) on a hero strategy for the final run in qualification which seems to have little upside but now finds him starting 9th instead of potentially 6th? This has race implications in terms of strategy and who gets priority (ham) during the race.

    Why undertake costly tests like this with George on his first race? Is this a team over driver call already?

    Perhaps I am reading too much into this?

    1. No using the second driver for experiments is common use at Mercedes.

  37. Looks like Ferrari has it’s power advantage back. That advantage has moved Ferrari, Haas and Alfa up the order and moved Mercedes powered cars Mercedes, McLaren and Aston moving down the order. Red Bull has clearly the best car,

  38. 2 things that I am worried about
    1. I am a Dan’ Fan, but starting to see the end. I am concerned that he will not make it into 2023.
    2. George already playing wingman to Lewis, he gave Lewis a tow in every session, the favour was never returned.

  39. I wonder if Vettel wants to return fighting for Q2. Don’t think so…

  40. Where are all the “Mercedes are sandbagging” crew. They seem to have lost their voice.


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