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Verstappen and Perez lock-out Bahrain front row


Ahead of today's qualifying session the air temperature is 25 degrees C, while the track temperature is 30 degrees.

The big question, of course, is can he do it?

And by he we mean Fernando Alonso, and can he claim pole for tomorrow's Grand Prix.

Right up until this morning there was doubt, with talk of Red Bull, Ferrari and even Mercedes sandbagging, while doubts over Aston Martin's true pace continued. But then, as the pair lapped, almost together, the Spanish two-time champion out-paced the Dutch two-time champion by 0.005s.

Even Drive to Survive's best scriptwriters wouldn't have dared come up with that one, nor, dare we say it, Turk Thrust, for this was pure Hollywood.

Now, ll that remains is to see whether the Spanish Samurai can do it when it really matters.

Being held under floodlights, conditions are entirely different, but then again Alonso was quickest yesterday evening also.

Though we remain unconvinced that we've seen the best of the Red Bull, the Mercedes was better than expected and the Ferrari somewhat disappointing.

That said, the top 13 were covered by less than a second.

As for the midfield it is as unpredictable as ever, with only Alpine making a significant improvement earlier. Indeed, only Williams and AlphaTauri - last year's back markers - appear not to be making progress.

Ahead of the green light, the AlphaTauris of Tsunoda and de Vries are waiting at the end of the pitlane. They are subsequently joined by the Ferraris. The Maranello pair are on mediums and the Alphas on softs, ass is Hulkenberg who heads out next.

Leclerc's wrecks his lap as early as the first corner after locking-up. Understandably, he aborts the lap.

Replay shows a piece of carbonfibre flying off the car on the straight ahead of the lock-up.

Meanwhile, Tsunoda posts a 32.132 and de Vries a 32.849, while Sainz splits them with a 32.408, the Spaniard having a very scrappy lap.

The session is red-flagged which is bad news for the likes of Hulkenberg who was on a flying lap. The stoppage was to allow the retrieval of the piece of bodywork that fell from the Ferrari.

The Bulls and the McLarens were on out-laps when the session was stopped.

The session resumes with 13:23 remaining.

Meanwhile, mechanics are working frantically on Leclerc's car, his car having lost part of its (right) wheel brow, which is feared to have caused possible damage to the floor.

The session resumes and Albon leads the eager beavers keen to get back to work, these include Zhou, Bottas, Magnussen and Hulkenberg.

Meanwhile, Sainz has his time deleted for exceeding the track limits at Turn 8.

With 11:25 remaining, all 20 drivers are on track.

As one would expect it is fast and frantic.

Albon goes quickest (32.094) but is demoted by Zhou, Bottas and Magnussen.

Stroll posts a 31.617 to go top, but Verstappen responds with a 31.295.

Alonso goes quickest in the final two sectors, crossing the line at a mighty 31.158.

However, Leclerc responds with a 31.094 only for Russell to posts a 31.057 and Sainz a 30.993.


As Stroll has his time deleted after running wide at Turn 13, Perez goes sixth with a 31.479.

After the first wave, it's: Sainz, Russell, Leclerc, Alonso, Verstappen, Perez and Hamilton.

Ocon is eighth, ahead of Tsunoda, Zhou, Bottas and Magnussen.

With just over 6 minutes remaining, both McLarens are in the drop zone, along with the Sargeant, Hulkenberg and Stroll, with Gasly, de Vries and Albon hovering.

Albon is first out for the final assault, while Sainz is already out of his car such is his confidence.

More and more drivers head out, among them Leclerc, Alonso and the Mercedes pair.

Indeed, all are out bar Sainz.

As Albon improves to sixth (31.461) there is a massive traffic jam building at the final corner.

Stroll goes fifth with a 31.184.

Bottas goes tenth and Norris 13th, while Tsunoda goes seventh.

Piastri goes seventeenth, as Hulkenberg posts a 31.204 to go sixth.

Sargeant improves to 16th, with exactly the same time as Norris, however the Briton posted the time first and therefore makes the cut.

"I can't remember the last time the grid was covered by one second," says Zak Brown, "I think F1 is in store for a pretty exciting season."

Quickest is Sainz, ahead of Russell, Leclerc, Alonso, Stroll, Hulkenberg, Verstappen, Tsunoda, Albon and Perez.

We lose Sargeant, Magnussen, Piastri, de Vries and Gasly who had his time deleted.

Q2 gets underway, but as is often the case there is no mad rush to work.

With 12:10 remaining, Hulkenberg heads out, followed by Ocon, Stroll, Zhou, Bottas, Alonso, Norris and a whole heap of others.

Having made his way to the front of the pack, Stroll is the first to start a flying lap.

The Canadian crosses the line at 32.305 as Alonso, Russell and Verstappen trade fastest sectors.

Hulkenberg posts a 31.932 but is demoted by Alonso (31.094), then Russell (31.086), then Hamilton (30.901), then Verstappen (30.503).

Perez goes second (30.746), while Sainz goes sixth (31.463) and Leclerc seventh (31.699). However, the Bulls are on fresh rubber and the Ferraris on old.

Opting for a one run strategy, Albon heads out.

With 5:50 remaining, he is in the drop zone along with Zhou, Stroll, Ocon and Tsunoda, with Norris, Bottas and Hulkenberg hovering.

Stroll has missed the weighbridge and is being pushed back up the pitlane.

Having made a mistake and run wide, Albon aborts the lap and pits.

At which point Ocon gets the final assault underway.

All are on track bar the Bulls and Albon.

Leclerc goes purple in S1, before Sainz goes quicker.

At the line Hulkenberg goes fourth and Ocon fifth, but both are demoted when Alonso goes second (30.645).

Leclerc goes quickest (30.282), Russell third and Hamilton fourth, as Stroll posts a 31.127 to go tenth.

Quickest is Leclerc, ahead of Verstappen, Russell, Hamilton, Sainz, Alonso, Perez, Hulkenberg, Ocon and Stroll.

We lose Norris, Bottas, Zhou, Tsunoda and Albon.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Manama here.


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1. Posted by kenji, 05/03/2023 10:13

"Alonso is a favourite for negative comments across the social media spectrum but when it all boils down he is quite the positive F1 entrepeneur when the status quo needs a bit of disruption. I like him. He's great racing value and he seems to have the ability to get whatever there is to get out of any racecar entrusted to him. With Fernando, what you see is what you get...and no 'nose studs' to muddy the waters. haha."

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2. Posted by Spindoctor, 05/03/2023 8:31

"Never saw that coming......"

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3. Posted by Anthony, 04/03/2023 18:09

"It’s great to see two Astons in the top 8!"

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4. Posted by Chester, 04/03/2023 17:40

"Love it! Alonso P5. "

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