Charles Leclerc emotional but keen to play down maiden pole

Charles Leclerc stressed that “there are no points for pole” but understandably delighted in topping Formula 1 qualifying for the first time in his career.

Ferrari has held a pace advantage throughout the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend, with Leclerc quickest in the first and third sessions, which took place in daytime.

Leclerc topped all three stages of Saturday evening’s qualifying session to grab his maiden pole position, setting two laps quick enough for top spot, finishing almost three-tenths clear of Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

“There are a lot of emotions but I’m trying to stay as cool as possible as there are no points for pole, the points are awarded tomorrow,” said Leclerc, who becomes the sport’s 99th different polesitter.

“It has been a great day and a great weekend until now for us and hope it will continue tomorrow. Focus now is on the race and try and do the best race possible.”

Leclerc went on to express satisfaction at his Q3 performance in the wake of a disappointing conclusion to his one-lap display two weeks ago in Australia.

“I am overall very happy with my lap in Q3, that was my weakness in the first race, I was disappointed after qualifying because of this,” he said.

“Today I am very satisfied. I put my three best sectors together which is what I wanted.”

On whether taking pole position in only his second Grand Prix as a Ferrari driver matched his expectations, Leclerc said: “I was completely aware of how much of a big step [it was to join Ferrari], team wise and competition wise as obviously the drivers I’m fighting with now are the best.

“I’m extremely happy it has started like this but as I said it’s only qualifying.

“I hope I will have strong points tomorrow which is the most important, but I’m extremely happy to start like this.”