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Lewis Hamilton suffers Bahrain GP blow with five-place grid penalty

08 April, 2018, 01:21 | Author: Carla Brady
  • Rob Smedley speaks to Martin Brundle

Concluding back at the front and Sebastian Vettel's pole will certainly calm a few fears some had that Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton could dominate qualifying in 2018 after Australia.

Because of an unfair release pit stop, Raikkonen and his team could be fined, or even issued a three-place demotion from the grid wherever Raikkonen finishes in qualifying on Saturday.

The German made a mistake on his first attempt to set a time and was initially second behind Kimi Raikkonen, but he leapfrogged his team-mate at the chequered flag with a sensational lap.

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.

Sebastian Vettel in action during the Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying.

Then there's just how far Hamilton can get back up using his alternative tyre strategy and starting on a tyre which has looked the best of the three available over the weekend.

Although there was little the Silver Arrows could have done about the circumstances that allowed Vettel to take the initiative two weeks ago, not converting pole position into a win would have stung Hamilton.

The British star had wound up fourth fastest earlier in Friday's second free practice session at the Bahrain International Circuit.




He heads into Sunday's race on course to become the first driver since Michael Schumacher in 2004 to open the season with consecutive wins for Ferrari.

But he could only manage fourth, failing to improve his time on his final lap and leapfrogged by Bottas.

Aside from the two title favourites, there will be a number of other storylines to keep an eye on, especially whether Red Bull pair Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen can respond after missing out on podium places in Melbourne. It looked like we were a bit quicker than the rest but it depends a bit on the programme.

"It is a very different circuit, different tarmac, different temperatures, so for sure we need to understand completely why".

The surprise performance of the first session was executed by Pierre Gasly who brought his Toro Rosso home seventh quickest in a time of 1:32:779 ahead of both Renaults, both McLarens and one Haas.

He headed Renault's Nico Hulkenberg, separated from his team-mate Carlos Sainz in 10th by Force India's Esteban Ocon.

Such support came as no surprise given their performances on the track, Williams finding it particularly hard as Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin finished FP2 17th and 18th respectively.

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