Vettel secures pole as Ferrari locks out front row in Bahrain
Bahrain Grand Prix - Qualifying

Vettel secures pole as Ferrari locks out front row in Bahrain

Sebastian Vettel took pole position at the Bahrain Grand Prix as Ferrari locked out the front row of the grid under the floodlights at Sakhir.

Mercedes may have had the faster car at the opening round in Australia two weeks ago, but there was no doubt Ferrari was the team to beat on Saturday night in Bahrain. The desert track's warmer temperatures and longer straights most likely played to the Scuderia's strength, but that should take nothing away from Vettel, who beat teammate Kimi Raikkonen to pole position by 0.143s.

Valtteri Bottas was the faster of the two Mercedes but still 0.023s adrift of Raikkonen after losing a chunk of time to his fellow Finn in the middles sector of the lap. Lewis Hamilton failed to hook up a clean lap and was left 0.262s shy of Vettel's pole position time as a result. If being beaten by both Ferraris and his teammate wasn't bad enough, Hamilton will drop a further five places to ninth on the grid due to an unscheduled gearbox change on Friday night.

Daniel Ricciardo was fifth fastest, 0.178s off Hamilton, but the Renault-powered Red Bull never looked in contention for pole position. However, the RB14 showed the strongest race pace of any team during Friday practice and Ricciardo will likely be a threat to the top three from his fourth-place starting position.

Pierre Gasly impressed with the sixth fastest time in the Honda-powered Toro Rosso and will start fifth on the penalty-corrected grid. The result will be particularly satisfying for the Japanese engine manufacturer which, after splitting with McLaren over the winter, comfortably outperformed its former chassis partner at a power-sensitive circuit.

Kevin Magnussen took seventh for Haas with a lap just 0.029s off Gasly and 0.212s clear of Nico Hulkenberg's Renault. Esteban Ocon returned Force India to the top ten for the first time this year with a solid performance to edge the second Renault of Carlos Sainz by 0.112s.

Brendon Hartley missed out on a place in the top ten by 0.096s after setting a time 0.269s off Toro Rosso teammate Gasly. Hartley hit a bird and damaged his front wing during Q1 but after it was replaced he admitted it was a mistake in the last corner that cost him a place in Q3. Sergio Perez was 12th fastest for Force India ahead of the two McLarens, which finished in a disappointing 13th and 14th on the home turf of the team's owners. Fernando Alonso was 0.313s clear of teammate Stoffel Vandoorne, but that will be little consolation for the two-time champion who was 0.4s off the Honda-powered Toro Rosso of Gasly.

Max Verstappen crashed out of the first part of qualifying after losing control of the rear of his Red Bull exiting Turn 2. The car swapped ends on him under acceleration and he clattered across the gravel before the front left suspension snapped on impact with the wall. 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.

Romain Grosjean set an identical time to Alonso in Q1 and only lost out on a place in Q2 because he set his time later than the McLaren driver. He explained over team radio that his outlap was a mess, meaning his tyre preparation was not as good as it could be and he set a time 0.936s off Haas teammate Magnussen.

Sauber's Marcus Ericsson qualified 15th ahead of Williams' Sergey Sirotkin and teammate Charles Leclerc, who spun off in the final corner of his flying lap. Lance Stroll will start dead last after setting a time 0.089s off teammate Sirotkin.

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