World champion Max Verstappen has captured the first pole position of the new Formula 1 season. In qualifying on the Bahrain International Circuit, the Red Bull driver relegated his team-mate Sergio Perez to second place.
For Verstappen it was the 21st pole position of his career. Last year's winner Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari raced to third place under the floodlights of Sakhir.
Formula 1 returnee Nico Hülkenberg put in a strong qualification. The successor to Mick Schumacher at the US team Haas will start the first Grand Prix of the year on Sunday (4:00 p.m. CET/Sky) from tenth place. Hülkenberg had recently only been a substitute driver at Aston Martin. Record world champion Lewis Hamilton was seventh in the Mercedes.