Sebastian Vettel surprised by Bahrain GP pole as Ferrari dominate

Raikkonen hits mechanic in Bahrain pit lane

Daniel Ricciardo was fifth for Red Bull while his teammate Max Verstappen crashed in the opening part of qualifying, losing the auto under acceleration out of the tight second corner. "So we can already see from the Friday running you have more grip in every single lap, the vehicle balance is changing, so we need to make estimations for the next sessions, the next runs and it's going to be the same thing tomorrow".

"It was quite intense", Vettel said. 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.

His hopes of chalking a 3rd Bahrain win on Sunday have been taken a hit, with all the Briton place to shed five puts on the grid for the unscheduled gearbox change in his Mercedes. Many drivers throughout the session ran wide at the last corner which could cause a problem in qualifying.

Despite narrowly missing out on pole Raikkonen has made a strong start to the season, but he says nothing has dramatically changed since a year ago, where he struggled to match Vettel across the whole season.

Max Verstappen lost the rear of his Red Bull and spun exiting the slow Turn 2 left-hander while on the fourth lap of his Q1 run.

It appeared as if a wheel might not have been attached properly at a pit stop - he had just stopped for a new set and the mechanics were waving as he left the pits. It has been a poor start to the season from him.

Williams are in even more trouble - Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll were 18th and 20th respectively, a poor result for a once-great team that finished third in the championship as recently as 2015.

The Dutchman, who overdrove his vehicle in Melbourne, was again trying too hard and paid the price during Q1 with a crash that brought out the red flags and means he starts in 15th. He'd done enough to make it into Q2, however.

Sauber ended the session in 16th and 18th, with Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc being separated by Stoffel Vandoorne who was 17th for McLaren.

Fernando Alonso scraped through despite setting the exact same time as Romain Grosjean because the McLaren driver set his time first.

"Our qualifying performance was worse than we expected", Alonso said.

"We mostly tried to work on the set-up, and understanding the vehicle", he said.

Happy days for Honda: Toro Rosso picked a good race for its brilliant qualifying effort. The British driver expressed his annoyance over team radio as he came into the pit lane, saying some spectators got too close to his Mercedes.

Hamilton is gunning for his fifth world title this year, an achievement which would match the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio and leave him just two adrift of Michael Schumacher's all-time record.

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