Vettel secures pole as Ferrari locks out front row in Bahrain

Vettel secures pole as Ferrari locks out front row in Bahrain

Vettel secures pole as Ferrari locks out front row in Bahrain

The only sour note for Ferrari was the sight of Raikkonen pulling off the track towards the end of the session with a loose front-right wheel, although the Finn escaped a grid penalty.

The German made a mistake on his first attempt to set a time and was initially second behind Kimi Raikkonen, but he leapfrogged his team-mate at the chequered flag with a sensational lap.

Hamilton qualified fourth behind Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and his team-mate Valtteri Bottas but has a five-place drop for an unauthorised gearbox change.

"I was very happy with both laps in the end, and very happy with the result and the way the vehicle was handling and responding", he added. "My long run I think was okay, it should have been a bit stronger but as I said we try different things with the vehicle and the balance".

Mercedes was caught out in the cold on March 25 in Melbourne when Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel won ahead of Hamilton thanks to a pitstop miscalculation.

Sebastian Vettel produced a stellar final effort to claim pole in a highly competitive and eventful qualifying session ahead of Sunday's Bahrain GP. "The vehicle was excellent all weekend so far".

Friday's practice sessions also offered encouraging signs with Raikkonen heading Vettel in a Ferrari one-two at the top of the time-sheets.

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Hamilton's setback in his bid to overhaul Vettel's early-season lead in the title race - following his victory in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix - was confirmed by the International Motoring Federation (FIA), the sport's ruling body. "If we look purely at lap times it was OK, but that doesn't tell you much; It's only the first day and it's impossible to know what the others were doing". I meant it. On a track like Bahrain, with a very abrasive surface, and lots of heat, we struggled.

"But after the weekend, after the race distance, when you have so many laps - I had a very good understanding and feel, and we have been talking about it and looking into it".

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

The surprise performance of the first session was executed by Pierre Gasly who brought his Toro Rosso home seventh quickest in a time of 1:32:779 ahead of both Renaults, both McLarens and one Haas.

Renault continued their solid start to the season with Nico Hulkenberg sixth and Carlos Sainz 10th as Esteban Ocon signalled Force India's improvement by making Q3 in eighth.

Sadly, Williams were also-rans in qualifying, with Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll starting tomorrow's race in 18th and 20th.

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