Ferrari new boy Leclerc claims maiden pole with lap record
30 Mar 2019
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc celebrates his pole position at the Formula One Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir on Saturday. Associated Press
Manama: Ferrari new boy Charles Leclerc secured his first pole position on Saturday when he set a new track record by topping a dramatic qualifying session for Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
The 21-tear-old Formula One rookie became the first Monegasque driver ever to take pole for a world championship race.
Leclerc lapped the Bahrain International Circuit in one minute and 27.866 seconds, beating the mark set by his team-mate and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel last year.
Vettel qualified second to clinch a Ferrari lockout of the front row and was quick to congratulate his new team-mate who shone in only his second race weekend with the team.
“He deserved it,” said Vettel “Yes, come on!” said Leclerc, who is 10 years younger than his team-mate.
“Tomorrow is the race and it’s where we score points, but it’s a good beginning... It seems like we did a good job so I am extremely happy.” Leclerc became the second youngest pole-sitter in F1 history behind Vettel, who qualified three-tenths behind him.
Five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton was less than a tenth of a second behind Vettel in third ahead of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, Dutchman Max Verstappen of Red Bull and sixth-placed Dane Kevin Magnussen of Haas.
Carlos Sainz was seventh for a resurgent McLaren ahead of Romain Grosjean in the second Haas, Kimi Raikkonen of Alfa Romeo and British rookie Lando Norris in the second McLaren.