Formula One: Vettel takes pole for Bahrain Grand Prix

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The German secured his 51st career pole with a supreme lap in the dying seconds of a tense floodlit qualifying session in which Ferrari were dominant.

Raikkonen's Ferrari team-mate, four-time champion German Sebastian Vettel, withdrew from the final minutes of the session without clocking a flying lap. That was quite intense.

"Ferrari this weekend so far has been a quicker vehicle and that is where we are".

Lewis Hamilton was fourth quickest, but will start tomorrow's race ninth after a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

That put him a whopping 0.525 seconds clear of second-placed Max Verstappen, with his Red Bull team mate Daniel Ricciardo a further 0.059 seconds adrift in third.

"Far from ideal in the previous run with the site visitors but what do I do?"

"But what can I do?"

"It hurt to leave all those points on the table, especially because we know we had the pace to win in Australia".

Bottas said: "It felt ok".

"It's getting better and today was quite nice, the auto came alive". "I can tell you it is going to be close".

"But I will give it all I can". The advantage in sector one, which is made up of two long straights and slow speed corners, suggests Ferrari's turbo-hybrid engine was running in a higher engine mode than its rivals, but Raikkonen's pace was impressive nonetheless.

"There will be chances to do something with the strategy and I will eke out all the performance and strength I can from the auto".

Earlier, Ricciardo's teammate Max Verstappen's auto lost power and ground to a halt on the track.

Verstappen then split the Mercedes pair in P2 with 25 minutes left on the clock, around the same time that Vettel was able to head back out on track.

Sauber man Charles Leclerc also looked comfortable on the soft compound (despite an early spin) providing the filling for a McLaren sandwich just five-tenths behind Fernando Alonso and less than a tenth ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne.

Williams completed the bottom of the timing screens, with Sergey Sirotkin 0.419 seconds adrift of Leclerc's Sauber in 19th while Lance Stroll finished as the slowest driver of the session in 20th, nearly three seconds off the pace.

Mr. Hamilton still enjoyed an advantage of more than 0.6s in qualifying and was comfortably quicker in the race as well until a mid-race safety vehicle handed Mr. Vettel the Chequered Flag. Pierre Gasly will start from fifth on Sunday, the highest a Honda-powered auto will have started in the V6 turbo era - on the home circuit of the major shareholders of McLaren, the team it was unceremoniously binned by at the end of previous year.

The German, victor previous year on this circuit, lapped the 5.4-km Sakhir track in a time of one minute 27.958 seconds on Saturday, edging Raikkonen by a margin of 0.143 seconds.

If Gasly and Alonso's positions are repeated on Saturday in qualifying, it would be embarrassing for McLaren at the home race for their chief shareholders, the Bahraini sovereign investment fund.