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

Lewis Hamilton will have to do what no Formula One driver has ever done to win Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix after an unscheduled gearbox change left the Mercedes driver facing a five-place grid penalty.

It was feared he would be punished for an unsafe release - because his front right wheel was not attached properly - and given a grid penalty, but instead Ferrari were fined €5,000 (RM23,767). Hamilton ended up second because his team made an error of judgment during Vettel's pitstop.

The Finn clocked a best lap time of one minute and 29.817 seconds around the Bahrain International Circuit to outpace four-time champion Vettel by 0.011 seconds.

It's Vettel's 200th career start, Hamilton's 100th start for Mercedes and Bottas's 100th Grand Prix start overall.

"I was very happy with both laps in the end, and very happy with the result and the way the auto was handling and responding", he added.

"It's hard to say from one race, they had a different run profile, particularly in the race they were doing something different fuelling-wise".

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Back-to-back wins would boost Ferrari in their bid for a first place title since 2007, but with 19 races to follow, they won't get carried away, after Vettel led early last season but Hamilton eventually took the title. It looked like a similar error, just losing control of the auto through the apex, at a race Red Bull would have hoped to have two cars putting Ferrari under pressure from the very start.

But he could only manage fourth, failing to improve his time on his final lap and leapfrogged by Bottas.

That put him a whopping 0.525 seconds clear of second-placed Max Verstappen, with his Red Bull team mate Daniel Ricciardo a further 0.059 seconds adrift in third. We love racing and we try to do our best, once we're in the auto and beat all the others. I meant it. On a track like Bahrain, with a very abrasive surface, and lots of heat, we struggled.

He headed Renault's Nico Hulkenberg, separated from his team-mate Carlos Sainz in 10th by Force India's Esteban Ocon. He was fourth fastest at the time and was on target for a top six grid position, but will now start Sunday's race from 15th on the grid.

McLaren, meanwhile, will hope to show they have not taken a step back from two points finishes at Albert Park, after Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne qualified 13th and 14th respectively.

At the start of qualifying, Romain Grosjean (Haas), Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin (both Williams), Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc (both Sauber) were eliminated from Q1.

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