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Sebastian Vettel on pole for F1 Bahrain GP as Max Verstappen crashes out

Sebastian Vettel on pole for F1 Bahrain GP as Max Verstappen crashes out
Apr 7, 2018, 5:21 PM

F1 championship leader Sebastian Vettel will start the Bahrain GP from pole position with main title rival down in 9th place as Ferrari locked out ...

F1 championship leader Sebastian Vettel will start the Bahrain GP from pole position with main title rival down in 9th place as Ferrari locked out the front row in qualifying. He qualified fourth but has to take a five place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen crashed out in Q1 and will start the race in 15th place.

It gives Kimi Raikkonen the first front row start of his career in Bahrain. Valtteri Bottas was third and Daniel Ricciardo fifth.

It was Vettel's 51st F1 pole position and his third in the Bahrain GP.

"It was quite intense. My first run in Q3 I was happy and then I tossed it away. Second run I got it clean. I'm very happy the car was excellent," said Vettel. "If the car is responding to what you want it to do then it's a pleasure. After Australia we looked into it a lot."

The star of qualifying was Pierre Gasly in the Toro Rosso Honda, who set the sixth fastest time, but will start fifth with Hamilton's penalty, ahead of Kevin Magnussen, Nico Hulkenberg, Esteban Ocon and Carlos Sainz.

Qualifying session 1

Raikkonen had set the pace throughout the FP2 and FP3 sessions and picked up where he left off in the Q1 session. He went through to Q2 using only the soft tyres, as did Vettel and Bottas.

There was drama with five minutes to go as Max Verstappen crashed out on the exit of Turn 2, which brought out a red flag stoppage. It was a big missed opportunity for the Dutchman, with Mercedes struggling for pace and Hamilton moving back five places on the grid.

This created some headaches for drivers who had not set a competitive time at that point, particularly Alonso, who had a DRS issue and Grosjean, who was unable to get through into Q2. This was a sharp contrast to team mate Kevin Magnussen who was seventh fastest in Q1. Both Honda powered Toro Rosso cars were ahead of both McLarens.

Brendon Hartley damaged the front wing when he hit a bird.

Charles Leclerc spun on his final lap and ended up 19th, saying "I am so stupid" over the radio - but finished ahead of the Williams of Lance Stroll. With Sergey Sirotkin in 18th this was Williams worst qualifying performance in recent memory.

Qualifying session 2

Q2 was very tight, with cars separated by small fractions of a second; Lewis Hamilton went straight out on soft compound tyres, doing exactly what Ricciardo had done for Q2 in Australia when it was clear he had to take a five place grid penalty, to give him more strategic options. The tyres you use for Q2 are the set you must start the race on.

Vettel smashed in a 1m 28.341s laps to go fastest in Q2, ahead of Raikkonen for the first time, while Bottas was 6/10ths off Vettel.

Hamilton set the second fastest time on the soft tyres. He then went out on Supersofts for the second run as a sighter ahead of Q3. He did not improve his time so will start on the softs.

Both McLarens were eliminated, as was Sergio Perez, who lost battery power on the back straight, and Brendon Hartley. McLaren were 3/10ths slower than the fastest Toro Rosso Honda of Pierre Gasly, who made the Top ten for the first time in his career.

Qualifying session 3

Into the Top 10 shootout and Ferrari were the team to beat.

Vettel ran wide in the final turn on his first run and Raikkonen gratefully took the invitation to go fastest. Hamilton went third, just over a tenth off the Ferrari. Three tenths of a second separated the top five cars.

Hamilton was losing time to Ferrari in the first sector in particular.

Vettel nailed a strong lap, two tenths faster than his first run. Raikkonen felt he lost time with traffic and Hamilton was outqualified for the second year in a row by team mate Bottas.

Race pace wise it looks like Ferrari has the edge, based on practice running and that Red Bull will be stronger in the race than it was in qualifying, so Ricciardo could have a shout of the podium.

It is likely to be a two stop race, with Ferrari aiming to capitalise on its competitiveness here and Hamilton's grid penalty set back. Vettel could be between 14 and 20 points ahead of Hamilton in the championship by Sunday night.

What did you think of the qualifying session? Where do you think Hamilton will end up in the race tomorrow? Leave your comments in the section below


1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m27.958s -

2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m28.101s 0.143s

3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m28.124s 0.166s

4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m28.398s 0.440s

5 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 1m29.329s 1.371s

6 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m29.358s 1.400s

7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m29.570s 1.612s

8 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1m29.874s 1.916s

9 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m28.220s 0.262s

10 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m29.986s 2.028s

11 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Honda 1m30.105s 2.147s

12 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m30.156s 2.198s

13 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Renault 1m30.212s 2.254s

14 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Renault 1m30.525s 2.567s

15 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault - -

16 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m30.530s 2.572s

17 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m31.063s 3.105s

18 Sergey Sirotkin Williams/Mercedes 1m31.414s 3.456s

19 Charles Leclerc Sauber/Ferrari 1m31.420s 3.462s

20 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1m31.503s 3.545s

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