Verstappen fastest in 3rd and final practice at Bahrain GP

Verstappen fastest in 3rd and final practice at Bahrain GP

Verstappen fastest in 3rd and final practice at Bahrain GP

Hamilton's second place sealed the Silver Arrows' first front row lock-out of 2017, while Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was third ahead of the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo.

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany steers his auto during the first practice session for the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix, at the Formula One Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, April 14, 2017. The.

Vettel won the season-opening Australian GP and Hamilton, who has secured both pole positions, won in China last weekend.

"A first pole position?"

Vettel, who was fourth fastest during the first 40 minutes, then banged in his quickest lap of the session to take a top spot he would never lose.

"We lost a bit more time there, a bit more than usual". "I'm getting better with the set-up of the vehicle".

"That's how close I think qualifying should always be".

"The team knows exactly where I am with my performance and that's what counts".

Vettel finished just 0.041 seconds clear of Valtteri Bottas under the lights of the Sakhir Circuit, with Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo in third and Hamilton, a victor last time out in China, only fifth.

Ferrari failed to put up a fight to Mercedes at the front of the pack, with Sebastian Vettel finishing nearly half a second off pole in third place.

"The first lap felt great and I looked up and the time was so close, and I thought 'wow, that's a good lap, he did a great job!'"

"I am really happy that we are allowed to fight and I'm sure we can do it hard", he said. "Four-tenths is a lot more than I expected".

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Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his auto during the first practice session for the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix, at the Formula One Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, April 14, 2017.

"Overall I was very happy with how qualifying went, with how the auto felt", he said.

Hamilton grabbed Bottas from behind before congratulating him in parc ferme.

"Well firstly a big congratulations to Valtteri, he's been working so hard and gelled so well with the team", Hamilton said. Sunday's race also starts at 6 p.m.

A pair of multiple world champions that are now level on points, Mercedes and Ferrari have already begun their yearly battle for this year's championship, and it's only the third race of the season. In an exciting start to the season, both have one win and one second-place finish each, with Vettel winning in Melbourne and Hamilton taking the checkered flag in Shanghai.

"It's great how close it is between the teams, it brings out the best in each driver", Hamilton said. We need to focus for the race and get the maximum out of it.

Hamilton won in Bahrain in 2014 and 2015, on his way to his second and third world titles with Mercedes.

Five drivers are eliminated from the first two parts of qualifying - Q3 and Q2 - to leave the best 10 in Q1.

The team struggled previous year after switching back to Honda engines and it looks like things are getting worse.

He was 14th of the 20 runners in Friday's second session, and there were further troubles for his McLaren team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne too.

"It's a shame", the Spanish driver said. There's no point in dreaming. Daniil Kvyat (Russia) Toro Rosso - Renault 1:30.923 12.

With conditions towards the end of the session being slightly more representative, Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time with a 1:32.697 on the soft tyre.

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