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F1: Charles Leclerc wins first career pole in Bahrain, sets new track record

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It’s been a great weekend so far for Charles Leclerc.

After setting the fastest time in the first and second practice session, and finishing right behind teammate Sebastian Vettel in FP2, Leclerc broke the track record at the Bahrain International Circuit en route to his first Formula One pole Saturday night, with an elapsed time of 1:27.866.

The 21-year-old Ferrari driver becomes the second-youngest pole winner in F1 history. He also is the sport’s 99th pole sitter in its 999th race.

“I’m extremely happy. Seb is an amazing driver, but today I’m very happy to be on pole,” Leclerc told reporters following his pole run.

Leclerc’s teammate Sebastian Vettel (who holds the title of the youngest pole sitter of all time) qualified second with a time of 1:28.160, with Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton (1:28.98) and Valtteri Bottas (1:28.256) starting third and fourth, respectively.

Max Verstappen, who was the the only Red Bull entry to make it into Q3, will start Sunday’s Grand Prix fifth, with Kevin Magunssen, Carlos Sainz, Romain Grosjean, Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren’s Lando Norris rounding out the top 10.

Daniel Ricciardo was not fast enough to make it into Q3 and will start the second GP of the season in the 11th position, and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg will start the race 17th after a disappointing Q1.

Update: Romain Grosjean will now start Sunday’s Grand Prix from the 11th position after being assessed a 3-spot grid penalty by race stewards for impeding Lando Norris by driving “unnecessarily slowly” in front of Norris, who was approaching quickly on a flying lap. As a result, Raikkonen now will start 8th, Norris will now start 9th and Ricciardo will now start the race in the 10th position.

Full qualifying results and times are listed below:

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Dutch Grand Prix becomes fourth Formula 1 race canceled this season

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ZANDVOORT, Netherlands — The Dutch Grand Prix became the fourth Formula One race canceled this season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, after organizers decided Thursday they didn’t want to play host to an event without spectators.

It was to be the first Dutch GP since 1985, but F1 wants to start the season with no spectators at races.

“We would like to celebrate this moment, the return of Formula 1 in Zandvoort, together with our racing fans in the Netherlands,” race director Jan Lammers said in a statement. “We ask everyone to be patient. I had to look forward to it for 35 years, so I can wait another year.”

The race in Zandvoort was set for May 3 and initially postponed. Fans who bought tickets can use them next year.

The coastal circuit has been redesigned, with some corners banked to facilitate faster racing.

The other races canceled this year were the season-opening Australian GP on March 15; the Monaco GP on May 24; and the French GP on June 28.

Another six have been postponed.

F1 organizers still hope to reschedule those and hold 15 to 18 races this season, starting in July with back-to-back races at the Austrian GP.