Vettel leads Ferrari 1-2 in Bahrain qualifying

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Bahrain, Bahrain International Circuitbh

Sebastian Vettel ended up ahead of team mate Kimi Raikkonen when it mattered, having trailed the Finn's times since Friday afternoon. The German's final lap was good enough to take pole by 0.143s to the Finn. The Mercedes of Bottas and Hamilton were third and fourth fastest.

With the circuit's lights on, and temperatures dropping as twilight descended, quite a number of drivers seemed eager to get on with it immediately. From the top runners, Ferrari were out first 7 minutes into the session, but Red Bull and both McLaren drivers notably waited for a little longer to go out, contrary to what appeared to be the consensus.

At 5 minutes from the end of Q1, Kimi Raikkonen had confirmed his form by going fastest, a tenth faster than team mate Vettel. Bottas followed up in 4th, ahead of Verstappen, Hamilton and Ricciardo. The top three interestingly had completed their laps on the soft tyres, while all others opeted for the super softs.

Verstappen at the time was still lapping and trying to push for an improvement, until he stepped on the throttle slightly early out of Turn 3, sending him sliding sideways into the wall and immediately snapping the front left suspension. Needless to say, the session was stopped immediately to get the car out of the way. Verstappen proved unhappy, saying "fuck fuck fuck" over the radio, before his engineer was able to ask him "are you ok?".

At the moment of the stoppage, Grosjean, Alonso, Sirotkin, Leclerc and Stroll were all out of the top 15. Gasly, Vandoorne, Sainz and Ericsson were the ones in, but in risk of getting eliminated in the final 5 minutes 16 seconds of the session, after it got restarted.

As usual, the final 5 minutes were extremely busy, but in the end, Vandoorna and Alonso made it through in 14th and 15th. Grosjean only just didn't make it. In fact, the Frenchman set identically the same time as Fernando Alonso, but as the Spaniard set it first, he's classified higher up. Grosjean later said "the outlap was a mess, I'm sorry". He only left the Sauber and Williams cars behind him.

Q2 saw a different picture at the front, with Vettel emerging on top, followed by Lewis Hamilton in second position, still using the soft tyres. The latter is likely a strategic decision as the Brit knows he will be put 5 places down on the grid due to a gearbox change penalty. Kimi Raikkonen was a close third, followed by Ricciardo and Bottas. Gasly was 6th fastest, but easily 7 tenths down on Bottas, meaning that for the final few minutes of Q2, the top 5 didn't bother coming out again.

In Q3, Vettel was the first to set a top time, exiting the final corner in his usual - far over the kerb - style, ending up with 1:28.196. Lewis Hamilton was 0.020s slower on his first lap, with Bottas and Ricciardo another tenth down. Only Raikkonen managed to improve the Finn's time, topping it by 0.095s.

Gasly and Sainz, the only two other men to have set a time in the first 5 minutes, were respectively 2.2s and 2.5s down on the Finnish pace setter.

On the second runs, Raikkonen crucially failed to improve, which cost him pole position as team mate Sebastian Vettel did indeed manage to find another two tenths to take pole position. Valtteri Bottas also had a very strong second hotlap to go third fastest, ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo.

Gasly retained 6th and reduced the gap to the best to 1.371s. An interesting performance for sure, as the Toro Rosso Honda will start from 5th, whereas former Honda partners McLaren will see their cars start the race from 13th and 14th positions.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarQ1Q2Q3Laps
15Sebastian VettelFerrari1:29.0601:28.3411:27.95813
27Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:28.9511:28.5151:28.10113
377Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG1:29.2751:28.7941:28.12416
444Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:29.3961:28.4581:28.22016
53Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:29.5521:28.9621:28.39812
610Pierre GaslyScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:30.1211:29.8361:29.32918
720Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:29.5941:29.6231:29.35816
827Nico HulkenbergRenault1:30.2601:29.1871:29.57015
931Esteban OconForce India Mercedes1:30.3381:30.0091:29.87416
1055Carlos SainzRenault1:29.8931:29.8021:29.98618
1128Brendon HartleyScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:30.4121:30.105-15
1211Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes1:30.2181:30.156-11
1314Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Renault1:30.5301:30.212-12
142Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren Renault1:30.4791:30.525-12
1533Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:29.374--4
168Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari1:30.530--7
179Marcus EricssonSauber Ferrari1:31.063--9
1835Sergey SirotkinWilliams Mercedes1:31.414--8
1916Charles LeclercSauber Ferrari1:31.420--8
2018Lance StrollWilliams Mercedes1:31.503--8

Note - Hamilton penalised five grid places for an unscheduled gearbox change.