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F1 2018: Vettel leads Ferrari front row after Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying

F1 2018: Vettel leads Ferrari front row after Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying

Gasly's performance was embarrassing for McLaren, who are down in 13th and 14th.

Can Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes bounce back at the Bahrain GP?

As the Ferrari mechanics got to work on the fix, it was Mercedes setting the early pace out on track with Bottas and Hamilton immediately lapping in the 1:30 region.

That latest setback will hamper the Mercedes driver's chances of producing an immediate response to Vettel, who benefited from a Mercedes software glitch to beat the Briton in Melbourne.

Hamilton was in total control of the season-opening Australian grand prix a fortnight ago before a loss of time under the virtual safety auto allowed Sebastian Vettel to snatch the win for Ferrari.

It was a similar outcome on Hamilton's second hot lap but, a few seconds later, Vettel reported that something "quite bad" happened to his vehicle at Turn 11 and 12. I was happy with my first run until I tossed it away in the last corner so I stayed away from that kerb in the second run.

"We mostly tried to work on the set-up, and understanding the auto", he said.

Hamilton was disappointed that the incident cost him a very possible victory but Vettel was also not fully satisfied with his vehicle which lacked Mercedes' pace.

For defending champion Hamilton, things were going so well in Australia, having produced a brilliant lap in qualifying to start on pole before getting a firmer grip on the race after a strong start. The race on Sunday gets underway at 4.10pm.

But he has been helped by a mistake by Max Verstappen, who crashed his Red Bull in first qualifying and will start 15th.

Hamilton said the incident showed "it won't be easy" to win another title but he doesn't expect the true strength of the cars to be revealed until later in the season.

"The Ferrari was quicker today", said Bottas. "I thought there was a lot we could improve, but it was a messy think, in the end". "There is lots that we do as a manufacturer where we do work for the power unit that is for the benefit of customers as well". The set-up was right.

"Hopefully Lewis can come back and put some pressure on these guys", Bottas said. With a change in the schedule, Formula 1 now goes to Bahrain, a track at which Vettel won in 2017 and will look to do the same at in 2018.

German Nico Hulkenberg was seventh for Renault ahead of the Toro Rosso of Frenchman Pierre Gasly and the two McLarens of two-time champion Fernando Alonso and Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne.

New Zealand driver Brendon Hartley complained about damage to his left front wing and soon find out why: he had hit a bird.


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