Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel Takes Pole Position At Bahrain GP As Mercedes Struggles

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Vettel started on the front row with Raikkonen, and Bottas started third.

Ferrari opted keep Vettel out on track on heavily worn soft tires, with the German pulling a gap of over eight seconds over Bottas at one stage. Hamilton was low down after incurring a five-place grid penalty for an unauthorized gearbox change.

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo put in a scorcher of a lap to be fifth and just a few tenths off the pace from Hamilton, showing how fast his vehicle is this season.

"But I will do all I can to do something and get a result". Race director Charlie Whiting red-flagged the session while the stricken Red Bull was recovered, with Verstappen climbing out of the auto and reporting he was unscathed.

Max Verstappen's damaged Red Bull following a puncture
4:53PM Verstappen's damaged car a close-up Max Verstappen's damaged Red Bull following a puncture Credit SKY SPORTS F1

Fourth place, meanwhile, went to Pierre Gasly, as he capped his weekend-long fine display with a stellar drive. He was sixth quickest and will line-up fifth, with the Haas of Kevin Magnussen, the Renault of Nico Huldenberg and Force India's Esteban Ocon also benefitting from Hamilton's grid penalty.

Stoffel Vandoorne was eighth to make it the second consecutive double points finish for McLaren while Alfa Romeo Sauber-Ferrari got a points scoring finish thanks to Marcus Ericsson who was ninth.

"I go when the light is green, I don't see what happens behind", added Raikkonen.

Over at Red Bull, things took an early turn for the worse as Max Verstappen locked up and slammed his vehicle into the wall at Turn Two. Romain Grosjean and Fernando Alonso were the two significant names still in the danger zone. The Grove outfit face a miserable Sunday starting from P18 and P20 respectively and seem a shadow of their former World Championship-winning selves.

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Q2 most notably saw Hamilton re-emerge from the garage with soft tyres and setting his personal best on them so far.

"We struggled all the race with tyre overheating issues so we had to manage the tyres a lot".

Brendon Hartley fell agonisingly short of reaching Q3 and will start from a still impressive P11.

The Australian was 0.3 seconds quicker than Bottas and 0.4 seconds faster than Raikkonen.

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If there's someone who's going to disrupt the domination from Ferrari and Mercedes, who have combined to grab all nine podium spots in the last three years of this race, it's likely Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, who finished fourth in Melbourne and had the fastest time during Friday's practice.

Yet Vettel was able to recover from his earlier error and took pole position by just over a tenth ahead of his 200th race start. "But it wasn't quite enough", Bottas said. I was happy with my first run until I tossed it away in the last corner so I stayed away from that kerb in the second run. "I'll try to improve the feeling and balance to put myself in the best position possible".

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