Wednesday, 25 April, 2018

Story of qualifying: Sebastian Vettel steals Kimi Raikkonen's limelight

Ferrari fined €50 000 after F1 mechanic injured Story of qualifying: Sebastian Vettel steals Kimi Raikkonen's limelight
Elias Hubbard | 08 April, 2018, 01:23

Sebastian Vettel heads into the Bahrain Grand Prix fresh from having won Formula One's Australian season opener, but the German's hopes of racing to an unprecedented fourth win at the Sakhir circuit could well depend on Ferrari making a big step up.

Ferrari had both cars on the podium with Kimi Raikkonen in third, while Mercedes' second driver Valtteri Bottas had to settle for eighth in Australia, following a qualifying crash and grid penalty.

But Vettel made it count when it mattered.

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.

Although there was little the Silver Arrows could have done about the circumstances that allowed Vettel to take the initiative two weeks ago, not converting pole position into a win would have stung Hamilton. "First run in Q3 I was very happy and then I tossed it away last corner".

Sebastian Vettel, victor in Australia and last year in Bahrain, was fifth quickest ahead of last year's pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas who was sixth for Mercedes.

The gap between the Ferraris was also small - Raikkonen had a slight edge on pace, as he had in the first race of the season in Australia, but was just 0.011secs ahead of Vettel.

"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".

In a further boost for Ferrari, the aging Kimi Raikkonen has looked sharp all weekend, leading the second and third practice. But he will start from ninth on Sunday after incurring a grid penalty for an unauthorized gearbox change on his Mercedes.

The Briton had been off the pace in the day's two free practice sessions, ending up the fourth fastest in the evening. I know exactly what I want, and we need to work on it.

"On the softs, the auto were much better, but putting the softer compound on, the supersoft, it looks like we're overheating and therefore not extracting the optimum grip".

Pierre Gasly exceeded expectations by finishing sixth on the timesheets for Toro Rosso and there was huge disappointment for McLaren, with Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne 13th and 14th respectively. Gasly (Toro Rosso), 6.

He headed Renault's Nico Hulkenberg, separated from his team-mate Carlos Sainz in 10th by Force India's Esteban Ocon.

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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