To the big surprise, it was not enough: Fernando Alonso clearly missed the pole position in fifth place at the Bahrain Grand Prix in Formula 1. Instead, world champion Max Verstappen won the time chase: The Dutchman needed 5:412.1 minutes on Saturday evening for the 29.708-kilometre lap and will start the opening race of 16 from first place on Sunday (00:1 CET in the F.A.Z. live ticker for Formula 2023 and Sky).

Sönke Sievers

Deputy Head of Sport Online.

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Second at the Bahrain International Circuit was Verstappen's teammate Sergio Perez, 0.138 seconds behind Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari, who was 0.292 seconds behind Verstappen's time. Alonso was separated by 0.628 seconds from the best time.

21st pole position for Verstappen

The only German Nico Hulkenberg shone in the Haas: The Rhinelander reached the final qualifying section and starts from tenth place on Sunday, while his teammate Kevin Magnussen retired in the first race and finished 17th. The first duel with the stablemate Hulkenberg decided clearly for himself. Record champion Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes was seventh, his colleague George Russell finished sixth. In the second Ferrari, Carlos Sainz finished fourth.

For world champion Max Verstappen, it is the 21st pole position in his career. In the two final practice sessions, Fernando Alonso had initially stolen the show from him and had set the best time in each case, while the Dutchman complained about a lack of grip. When it counted in qualifying, however, Verstappen prevailed.

But fifth place is also a success for Fernando Alonso on a special date: exactly 22 years ago to the day, the Spaniard made his debut in Formula 1, in 2001 at the Australian Grand Prix. Aston Martin also confirmed the impression that it had taken a big step forward compared to last year. Since the test drives last week, the traditional British brand has been an insider tip this year.

On Friday evening, Nico Hulkenberg had revealed: "Anyone who has seen the on-board footage of the car and can interpret the body language of Fernando Alonso knew that Aston Martin will be strong." Alonso's colleague Lance Stroll finished eighth. Sunday's race starts at 18:00 local time and covers 57 laps (308 kilometres). Last year, Ferrari was happy about a one-two success at the start, at that time Charles Leclerc won ahead of Carlos Sainz – Max Verstappen dropped out.