Max Verstappen gives freakish explanation for huge Bahrain qualifying crash

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"Yesterday our race pace didn't look bad but I think our auto in FP2 wasn't as good as it is now, so it's encouraging to know that our vehicle should be even better tomorrow and hopefully it puts us in the fight".

However, Ricciardo finished the session within two-tenths of fourth-placed Lewis Hamilton, and within half a second of polesitter Sebastian Vettel.

Lewis Hamilton was fifth quickest in P1, as he welcomes the chance to move on from the disappointment of the opening Grand Prix of 2018.

A similar result would be a welcome gift for McLaren in this home race of sorts, and they are still competitive in the closely-matched midfield pack, so Alonso and Vandoorne will have their sights firmly focused on the top 10 on Sunday in an attempt to stave off further scrutiny after also being beaten by both works Renaults during qualifying.

Raikkonen's time of 1 minute, 29.8 seconds on the 5.4-kilometer (3.3-mile) desert circuit was a fraction quicker than Vettel's.

But Verstappen's chances were shattered in the first qualifying session as he crashed into the barriers after losing the rear end of his auto at turn two.

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"Although we were untroubled by any reliability issues, and we ran through our programme as expected, it wasn't our best day from a performance point of view", said Mercedes technical head James Allison.

"The auto feels OK, but we still need to find some pace, especially for a single lap", Bottas said.

Verstappen is not ruling out recovering to fight for the podium and his confidence comes from the long-run pace Red Bull were able to display during the practice sessions on Friday and Saturday.

His best effort on Friday was 0.655 seconds slower than Raikkonen, however, with at least some of that down to the 33-year-old running into traffic on his flying lap.

It wasn't all doom and gloom for Red Bull, however, as Verstappen's team-mate Ricciardo topped the timesheets.

It was another blow for Verstappen, who spun his auto early into the season-opening Australian GP two weeks ago.

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"I learned the data immediately once I arrived on the scene of this vehicle as for me it had been also a significant surprise", Verstappen informed reporters.

While on Thursday Hamilton turned up at the circuit in shorts, t-shirt and cap with a relaxed smile, this time the British driver was wearing Mercedes team gear and a much more serious expression.

"We've got more to do overnight and in the session tomorrow to give us a auto that will allow us to have a good fight in qualifying and on Sunday".

Fans will hope for a better spectacle than Australia, where the race was criticised for a lack of overtaking or exciting action.

Vettel won in Melbourne, profiting from an error by Mercedes to finish ahead of Hamilton, who was leading from pole.

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