Sports

Sebastian Vettel claims pole in eventful Bahrain GP qualifying

Sebastian Vettel claims pole in eventful Bahrain GP qualifying

Kimi Raikkonen was the fasted of the two Ferrari drivers coming in third just a tenth behind the Mercedes while teammate Sebastian Vettel was just a hair's breadth back in fourth place.

Earlier, despite his victory in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, the four-time champion Vettel arrived in Bahrain on Thursday to play down hopes that it will be a straightforward task to win again on Sunday.

His Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel, meanwhile, who won in Melbourne two weeks ago to take the early championship lead, will line up on pole.

Vettel said: "I am really happy I got the second run and needed to keep away from the kerb but the vehicle has been excellent all weekend".

Sebastian Vettel, victor at Australia and last 12 months in Bahrain, was fifth quickest ahead of past season's pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas who was first sixth for Mercedes.

Hamilton was disappointed that the incident cost him a very possible victory but Vettel was also not fully satisfied with his vehicle which lacked Mercedes' pace.

Then there's just how far Hamilton can get back up using his alternative tyre strategy and starting on a tyre which has looked the best of the three available over the weekend.

Raikkonen set the fastest time in Free Practice Two but looked as though he might lose his spot at the top of the times when he was forced to pull over due to a loose front wheel.

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A Mercedes spokesman confirmed Hamilton would have a new gearbox for final practice and qualifying, incurring an automatic five-place penalty.

But he could only manage fourth, failing to improve his time on his final lap and leapfrogged by Bottas. "In clear air we were actually very, very strong", the 28-year-old told reporters.

Behind the Ferraris and Mercedes it's Daniel Ricciardo for Red Bull, but team-mate Max Verstappen crashed out in Q1 and will start the race in 15th.

Frenchman Pierre Gasly was ninth in his own Honda-powered Toro Rosso together with Fernando Alonso, a three-times victor at Bahrain, rounding out the best 10 in his own McLaren.

Nico Hulkenberg along with Carlos Sainz place Renault best-of-the-rest with all the eighth and seventh quickest situations.

And the race, scheduled for Sunday, starts at twilight and finishes under lights in order to avoid most of the heat of the day.

Williams completed the bottom of the timing screens, with Sergey Sirotkin 0.419 seconds adrift of Leclerc's Sauber in 19th while Lance Stroll finished as the slowest driver of the session in 20th, nearly three seconds off the pace.


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