The Dutchman was four-tenths of a second quicker than the defending World Champion, showing that Red Bull has not lost the advantage that it had in testing.
Sebastian Vettel lost out to a yellow flag and found himself eliminated in Q1, whilst a medium tyre choice for Sergio Perez meant he didn’t have the pace to make it into the final qualifying round.
Fernando Alonso weathered a difficult Bahrain weekend so far for his Alpine team by taking ninth.
Sebastian Vettel was the shock scalp of Q1, falling foul of Nikita Mazepin‘s spinning Haas, which brought out yellow flags and prevented the Aston Martin driver from setting a time that could see him safely through to the next round. He starts 18th.
Alpine‘sEsteban Ocon also found himself stranded in the first round, having to settle for 16th on the grid.
Nicolas Latifi put in a solid lap in his Williams, but it wasn’t enough to get the Canadian out of Q1 as he starts 17th.
Haas struggled as widely expected, making up the Q1 cannon-fodder with Mazepin qualifying last and his team-mate Mick Schumacher setting 19th-fastest time.
There was another shock in Q2 as new Red Bull driver Sergio Perez was knocked out after only setting 11th fastest time. The Mexican first had a lap deleted for exceeding tracks limits and then gambled by using medium tyres on his second run – it didn’t pay off.