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Live: F1 Bahrain GP updates - FP3 & Qualifying

The Formula 1 season opener continues with final practice and qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton led a surprise Mercedes 1-2 at the end of practice on the opening day of track action, but many expect Red Bull to surge back to the front come qualifying.

FP3 begins at 12:30pm GMT (3:30pm local time) with qualifying at 4pm GMT (7pm local time).

By: Haydn Cobb, James Newbold

Summary

Summary
  • Red Bull's Max Verstappen took pole for F1 2024's opening race with a two-tenth margin on Charles Leclerc; George Russell, Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez rounded out the top five in Q3.
  • After pacing FP3, Sainz was fastest again in Q1 where both Saubers, both Alpines and Logan Sargeant's Williams were eliminated.
  • Leclerc set the quickest lap of the entire session in Q2, with Yuki Tsunoda missing the top 10 by 0.007s; Lance Stroll, Alexander Albon, Daniel Ricciardo and Kevin Magnussen also missed out on Q3.
Leaderboard
  1. Verstappen, Red Bull
  2. Leclerc, Ferrari
  3. Russell, Mercedes
  4. Sainz, Ferrari
  5. Perez, Red Bull
  6. Alonso, Aston Martin
  7. Norris, McLaren
  8. Piastri, McLaren
  9. Hamilton, Mercedes
  10. Hulkenberg, Haas
Status: Stopped
We'll bring our Live text to a close there, but do keep an eye out on the website for all the latest news and reaction from the year's first qualifying session as it comes in from Bahrain. Thank you very much as always for joining us, and be sure to come back tomorrow as we bring you updates from what promises to be an intriguing 2024 season-opener from roughly 14:00 GMT. See you then!
All told, we've answered a few questions, but plenty more have sprung up. So there's plenty of reasons to tune in tomorrow...
And the midfield battle appears to be just as congested as ever, although whether Alpine will be a part of that is up for debate.
Mercedes was correct not to read too much into its chart-topping efforts in FP2, but it does appear to have moved ahead of McLaren as Norris/Piastri proved fairly evenly-matched - just the wrong side of Alonso for the papaya team's liking.
What to make of that qualifying session then? Red Bull topping the pile wasn't entirely unexpected from what we've deduced over the winter, but Ferrari is perhaps closer than expected given Leclerc could have taken pole by reproducing his Q2 time.
If you missed any of the action from qualifying, catch up with the full report from Jake Boxall-Legge here: https://www.autosport.com/f1/news/f1-bahrain-gp-verstappen-beats-leclerc-to-first-pole-of-2024/10581873/
It will be interesting to hear from Hamilton now the session has concluded where he felt the deficit to Russell originated from. It was only a little over two tenths, but it makes all the difference in such a tightly-bunched group with Russell third and Hamilton ninth.
Another driver who will be taking encouragement from that session is Tsunoda, whose F1 future will require him to show well against established Grand Prix winner Ricciardo. Beating the Australian in qualifying for the season opener is nothing to sniff at.
Of course, that's only a snapshot from one qualifying session, but there's plenty to be encouraged about if you're new Haas boss Ayao Komatsu. It was a real scrap to make Q3, but Hulkenberg made sure he was on the right side of it - even if he couldn't clamber any further up the order than tenth.

If we're drawing up a team-by-team pecking order purely based on one-lap pace, then we're left with:

1) Red Bull
2) Ferrari
3) Mercedes
4) Aston Martin
5) McLaren
6) Haas
7) RB
8) Williams
9) Sauber
10) Alpine

It's a 33rd career pole then for Verstappen, who moves level in the all-time rankings with Prost and Clark. Only Hamilton, Schumacher, Senna and Vettel have more.
Russell ensures there are three different manufacturers in the top three, 0.306s down on Verstappen. For housekeeping, we've been told he will face no further action over not heeding the race director's instructions regarding maximum delta times.
Intriguingly, Leclerc's Q2 time would have been good enough for pole, but he couldn't match it when it counted in Q3. However, that shows it may not all be one way traffic...
Leclerc improved but was still 0.228s down on the three-time champion who begins 2024 as he did 2023 on pole. Sainz and Perez both shuffle Alonso back, with the Aston driver demoted to sixth ahead of Norris, Piastri, a subdued Hamilton and Hulkenberg.
As Russell improves to third, Verstappen goes faster again and lowers his benchmark time to 1.29.179s. Leclerc can't get close and it's pole to the Red Bull driver.
And Norris improves too, but it's not enough to bump him ahead of Sainz into fifth.
Piastri improves to seventh, knocking Perez back one spot.
Perez follows the two Ferraris out of the pits and will be the last driver to set a time before the flag falls. He will though have to jump out of the way of a lot of drivers coming in hot behind him on their flyers.
As the rest begin to trickle out for their final runs, Alonso completes his first lap which puts him third, just 0.121s down on Verstappen.
"Ride is really poor at Turn 6, I almost lost it" is the verdict from Russell, as Alonso begins his flyer.
Where is Alonso you might ask? Well, he's delayed his first run and is out now on a clear track for what may prove his only Q3 run.
Little to choose between Verstappen and Leclerc at the top then, with Sainz slotting into third behind Russell. Norris is shuffled back to fifth ahead of Perez, Hamilton, Hulkenberg and Piastri.
But here come the Ferraris: Leclerc is fastest in sector three and just misses out on provisional pole by 0.059s!
Russell then takes the top spot for Mercedes, but Verstappen is faster still on a 1m29.421s.
Hulkenberg puts the first time of the session on the board, a 1m30.502s to briefly hold top spot, but it's immediately swept aside by Norris's 1m29.679s.
Now in Q3 if there were any doubts about who has been holding their cards close will surely be done away with. Time to see what you've got.
We're green for Q3, and Hulkenberg is joined on track by the McLaren pair to get us rolling.
Stroll can be considered doubly disgruntled to miss out on Q3. The 0.007s margin by which Tsunoda was denied would have been more befitting of an Aston Martin driver...
Track temps have dropped by 0.7 °C since qualifying began. Don't know what you'll do with that information, just thought you'd like to know.
Leclerc's best time featured purple sectors in the middle and final part of the lap, with Verstappen quickest in the opening leg. Worth bearing in mind going into Q3.
Alonso, Hulkenberg, Russell, Perez, Norris and Piastri will join them in Q3 which will get going shortly.
Leclerc ended Q2 on top of the pile with 0.209s in hand over Verstappen, while Sainz moved up to third late on ahead of Hamilton.
More qualifying heroics then from Hulkenberg, who ensures Haas is represented in Q3 with a fine sixth place. Bravo sir.
Tsunoda misses out by 0.007s in P11, while Stroll is also unfortunate with just 0.078s between himself and Piastri in a relieved tenth spot. Albon, Ricciardo and Magnussen are also eliminated from qualifying.
They left it late, but both Mercedes do progress to Q3 as the flag comes out, with Hamilton fourth and Russell seventh.
Leclerc now goes top on a 1m29.165s, but all eyes are now on the Mercedes.
Ricciardo won't make it either, but will the two Mercedes be joining him in the drop zone?
Magnussen improves too, but it's not enough to make the cut as Albon now finds himself on the bubble.
Wowzers, Hulkenberg has vaulted up to second!
Albon finds three tenths in the first sector in his bid to escape the drop. What can he do in the rest of the lap?

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