Formula One: Lewis Hamilton handed five-place grid penalty for Bahrain

Formula One: Lewis Hamilton handed five-place grid penalty for Bahrain

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.

"But what can I do?" Obviously there are things we need to improve, we can improve, but it has been going fine.

Whether he can replicate that pace in a race scenario remains to be seen, but the fact he and team-mate Brendon Hartley went sixth and 11th quickest represents huge progress from their Q1 eliminations in Melbourne.

Ferrari have upset the form book by being the quickest package during the weekend.

Raikkonen was top of the charts after the first runs, but his team mate Vettel in second had more time in hand after running very wide at the final turn.

When asked where the pace has gone since Melbourne, he said: "I think that was a really good lap from me and whilst I tried to get the same again here it's not something you can always do". The safety auto came out and I was coming down the straight and then really last minute I was told the Ferrari was coming out.

Max Verstappen crashed on the exit of Turn Two, losing control as his auto slewed across the track and into the barriers.

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.

Indeed only his pride had taken a knock, as he stalked back to the paddock with his helmet still firmly on.

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Raikkonen was 0.525s clear of Max Verstappen in second, holding a massive 0.425s advantage over the Red Bull in the first sector alone, with much more slender margins of 0.050s in sectors two and three.

Eight minutes later, the session resumed.

Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz put Renault best-of-the-rest with the seventh and eighth quickest times.

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.

Raikkonen gave Ferrari their first front-row lockout since last July's Hungarian Grand Prix.

SAKHIR, Bahrain (AP) - Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix followed by Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen on Saturday.

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.

Such support came as no surprise given their performances on the track, Williams finding it particularly hard as Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin finished FP2 17th and 18th respectively.