Leclerc delighted with pole but warns ‘anything can happen’ in the race

Charles Leclerc has taken pole for the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc admits that he was expecting Red Bull to be ahead of his team, and is pleasantly surprised by his 10th career pole position.

Having been battling away with the Milton Keynes-based side throughout the first two qualifying sessions, the Monegasque narrowly beat Max Verstappen to pole, with Spanish team-mate Carlos Sainz third and Sergio Perez fourth in the second Red Bull.

After a winless last two seasons, Leclerc is delighted to be back on top on merit.

“It feels good!” he said after qualifying.

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“The last few years have been incredibly difficult for the team, and we were hopeful that this new opportunity for us was an opportunity to be back in the front and I think we have worked extremely well as a team to find ourselves again in a position to fight for better places so I’m very happy with today.

“It’s been a very tricky qualifying session. I wasn’t completely happy with my driving; we managed to do that lap in Q3 and we’re starting from pole, so [I’m] very happy.”

The 24-year-old revealed that he has been trying to optimise his driving style to suit the new technical regulations, and it has paid off on Saturday in Bahrain.

“Also from the driving point it’s completely different compared to last year. Testing was very useful for this, I tried many different driving styles, and [I] still need to find the perfect one,” he explained.

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“There is definitely much more to come hopefully from us.”

Having anticipated a deficit to Red Bull, the Monegasque did not necessarily expect to be on pole, and is very aware that the job is not done yet.

“We were pretty sure that Red Bull was going to be a bit quicker than us also in qualifying, but good surprise it wasn’t the case, so now we need to finish the weekend on a high tomorrow,” he added.

“It’s not going to be easy – tyre degradation here is a thing, and especially with this increase of weight this year.

“So we need to focus on that and hopefully have a good race tomorrow.

“I mean the pace is there, but the race is long and anything can happen so we need to stay on it.”

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Leclerc began the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix on pole, but was cruelly denied by an engine issue as Mercedes took a one-two finish.