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Vettel beats Raikkonen to pole in Bahrain

Vettel beats Raikkonen to pole in Bahrain”

There was a lot of focus on Mercedes' engine modes at the Australian Grand Prix in the wake of Lewis Hamilton's dominant pole position, but the indications are that there is very little to choose between the performance of the German vehicle manufacturer and Ferrari.

Ferrari has since been fined 5,000 euros by the FIA for an unsafe release, but Raikkonen avoided a three-place grid penalty. Hamilton ended up second because his team made an error of judgment during Vettel's pitstop.

Kimi Raikkonen produced the fastest time across Friday's sessions in FP2 as the Ferrari excelled on supersoft tyres - the Finn stopping the clock at one minute, 29.817 seconds.

Vettel won in Melbourne, with Hamilton second.

Hamilton struggled for pace all day and, after being hit with a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change, the Brit will begin back on the fifth row on Sunday.

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"Far from ideal in the last run with the traffic, but what can I do?", Raikkonen said.

Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes' failure to out-qualify either Ferrari in Bahrain shows speculation about the team's so-called "party mode" engine setting has been overblown.

Then there's just how far Hamilton can get back up using his alternative tyre strategy and starting on a tyre which has looked the best of the three available over the weekend.

And it was the Italian team who set the pace in practice with Kimi Raikkonen pipping Vettel to the fastest time in the second session under the floodlights. "If we look purely at lap times it was OK, but that doesn't tell you much; It's only the first day and it's impossible to know what the others were doing".

Daniel Ricciardo was fifth for Red Bull while his teammate Max Verstappen crashed in the opening part of qualifying, losing the vehicle under acceleration out of the tight second corner.

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"It is a very different circuit, different tarmac, different temperatures, so for sure we need to understand completely why". "I thought there was a lot we could improve, but it was a messy think, in the end".

Frenchman Pierre Gasly was ninth in his own Honda-powered Toro Rosso together with Fernando Alonso, a three-times victor at Bahrain, rounding out the best 10 in his own McLaren. Gasly (Toro Rosso), 6.

Nico Hulkenberg along with Carlos Sainz place Renault best-of-the-rest with all the eighth and seventh quickest situations.

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.

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