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Raikkonen on top for dominant Ferrari in Bahrain practice

Raikkonen on top for dominant Ferrari in Bahrain practice

Raikkonen on top for dominant Ferrari in Bahrain practice

Lewis Hamilton, who went into the weekend favourite for victory after having seen it snatched away by an ill-timed virtual safety vehicle two weeks ago at the season-opener in Melbourne, was only fourth fastest, 0.823 seconds off Raikkonen's best.

Raikkonen had looked to be faster than Vettel until qualifying but the four-time champion pulled it out when it mattered.

"Overall I have been happier this weekend with how the vehicle has been responding and how the front end is responding".

Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas (1:24.159) was third in Melbourne in the first exchanges of the new Formula One season.

Verstappen then ran out of sync with the other drivers - doing more laps at the start of the session to get a feel for the auto, which meant the track would have been in better condition for him when he did his fast lap later in the session than others. Meanwhile, Hamilton showed the Mercedes' one-lap pace by taking pole in Qualifying.

Lewis Hamilton went into the Bahrain Grand Prix favourite to make up for the win that was snatched away from him in Formula One's season opener in Australia, but the best the Briton is now hoping for in Sunday's race is simply a respectable finish. "The vehicle was excellent all weekend so far". Here the track improves all the time, with more grip every lap.

From ninth on the grid, he faces a long, hard race trying to get on to the podium.

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Raikkonen's session ended 15 minutes early when his vehicle ground to a halt out on track just after Turn Three.

"The Ferrari was quicker today", said Bottas.

"We're focusing on our selves, on the set-up mostly and try to get a better feel which at times was good, other times was not yet there". I meant it. On a track like Bahrain, with a very abrasive surface, and lots of heat, we struggled. He was fourth fastest at the time and was on target for a top six grid position, but will now start Sunday's race from 15th on the grid.

Nico Hulkenberg was eighth for Renault ahead of Force India's Esteban Ocon and teammate Carlos Sainz.

Brendon Hartley missed out on making it two Toro Rossos in Q3 by less than a tenth of a second, after a small mistake in the final corner on his only effort in Q2 using fresh supersofts left him 11th.

That put both Toro Rosso ahead of both McLarens, an embarrassing result for the team at the home race of their main shareholders the Bahraini royal family.

There was also big disappointment for Max Verstappen and the Williams duo, Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin.

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