Sebastian Vettel: We can still improve for both runs

  • Sebastian Vettel: We can still improve for both runs

Sebastian Vettel: We can still improve for both runs

Vettel secured his 51st career pole position with a 1m27.958s on the supersoft tyres.

Hamilton will line up in ninth for Sunday's race after an off-colour display in qualifying was coupled with a five-place grid penalty following a gearbox change on his Mercedes.

Mercedes technical director James Allison said after Friday practice that the team were not as competitive in relation to Ferrari as they had been in Melbourne.

Vettel, victor previous year in Bahrain, was a mere 0.011 seconds slower.

Vettel snatched an opportunistic win from Hamilton in Formula One's season opener in Australia two weeks ago, taking advantage of a timely virtual safety vehicle to pit and stay ahead of the Briton who had led from pole.

Sauber's Marcus Ericsson failed to improve on his third and final Q1 run and ended up 17th ahead of Williams driver Sergey Sirotkin, who had to rely on his first-run time.

"I was very happy with both laps in the end, and very happy with the result and the way the vehicle was handling and responding", he added.

After their much talked about "party mode" in Australia, Mercedes had no response to Vettel's pace and it was Valtteri Bottas who, like past year, finished as the quicker of the two Silver Arrows in third, beating Lewis Hamilton by a tenth of a second.

Sixth is the highest the four-times champion can start Sunday's race - which has never been won from lower than fourth on the grid - even if he sets the quickest time in qualifying. Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari took the win here last season, though, and will be looking to do the same this weekend.

Speaking in 2008, Kimi Raikkonen said: "Sakhir is one of those circuits where I really want to win".

And Kimi Raikkonen held off a strong challenge from Daniel Ricciardo to hand Ferrari the third spot on the podium as well.

Red Bull also struggled to show their true potential after Max Verstappen complained about a lack of power on the straights following his quick lap and Daniel Ricciardo was blocked by a slow-moving Bottas at Turn 4 on his hot lap.

"Far from ideal in the last run with the traffic but what can I do?" said the 2007 world champion.

They were roughly 0.3s clear of Pierre Gasly, who continued to impress in his Honda-powered Toro Rosso ahead of Fernando Alonso in tenth.

Nico Hulkenberg was eighth for Renault ahead of Sebastian Ocon in the second Toro Rosso and Carlos Sainz in the second Renault.

Force India's Sergio Perez was also eliminated, along with Alonso, McLaren team mate Stoffel Vandoorne and Verstappen, who took no part in the second segment of qualifying following his crash.