Callum Ilott was short and sharp when asked about the Championship picture in the wake of his fifth pole position of the season, saying that things look “pretty good” with Mick Schumacher starting from tenth, and Yuki Tsunoda from 22nd.

The UNI-Virtuosi driver put in a sterling performance in Qualifying at Sakhir, lapping 0.391s faster than anyone else on the grid. The Briton got the job done early, setting the time right at the start of the session while many of his title rivals faltered.

Schumacher and Tsunoda weren’t the only two to struggle, with Christian Lundgaard back in P9 and Robert Shwartzman in 14th.

“To be honest I have no nerves,” Ilott explained. “I've still got one more weekend after this even if I do a good job. It doesn't change that from that side.

“From that side, it's gone well today. The practice was not so good, so after that I was bit like, ‘this might be a bit more difficult.’ After setting that first lap I was more like, ‘I have some talent again!’

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“Setting the lap early made the rest of the session slightly more relaxed, from a position point of view. Obviously, I think a lot of people had issues trying to improve. I think either the wind or the track conditions changed a lot.”

It was difficult to know what to expect from the grid given that most of the drivers hadn’t driven in nearly two months, but Ilott quickly shook off any rustiness. He made the most of limited running time in Free Practice, before putting it all together in Qualifying.

“I hadn’t even (driven) a simulator, because I couldn't get to Italy to use the simulator because all the flights were cancelled,” he explained. “It was good to get the three and a half laps that I did in practice, and the two practice starts, it was really worth it. Obviously it helped, because I got pole.

“For me to pull out a lap like that, after not having a great practice, was really good. Big thanks to the team for putting everything together, making it work for me and giving me a car that I can set some good lap times in.”