Max Verstappen takes pole position ahead of Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez for the Bahrain Grand Prix… as the defending champion lays down an early marker to his rivals

Max Verstappen started his title defence by taking pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix. The Dutchman, who is chasing a third successive world championship, converted pre-season form into reality by pipping team-mate Sergio Perez in a Red Bull lockout. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was third quickest, three-tenths off the pace. Fernando Alonso was fifth best for Aston Martin – while George Russell beat Mercedes partner Lewis Hamilton, fifth versus sixth, the gap four-hundredths between themselves, but six-tenths back from Verstappen. The pecking order conformed to general expectations with Red Bull top, followed by Ferrari, Aston Martin and Mercedes. Stroll ended up eighth – not a bad effort at all after the Canadian required surgery on his wrist following a bicycle accident a couple of weeks ago.

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