Hamilton aims for rebound in Bahrain GP as Vettel wants more pace

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There was a lot of focus on Mercedes' engine modes at the Australian Grand Prix in the wake of Lewis Hamilton's dominant pole position, but the indications are that there is very little to choose between the performance of the German auto manufacturer and Ferrari.

Sebastian Vettel will head an all-Ferrari front row at the Bahrain Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton will start ninth after a grid penalty.

Kimi Raikkonen was the fasted of the two Ferrari drivers coming in third just a tenth behind the Mercedes while teammate Sebastian Vettel was just a hair's breadth back in fourth place.

Hamilton's chances of winning the race took a hit after he was penalized five grid penalties for an unscheduled gearbox change on Friday.

Bottas was happy to bounce back after his confidence-sapping crash in qualifying in Australia two weeks ago.

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

He said: "There is always pressure and I am treating this like a normal weekend".

A mistake at the last corner on his first run in the top 10 shoot-out left Vettel second but a blistering final lap gave him pole ahead of Raikkonen by 0.143secs.

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Mercedes got closer in qualifying than they looked like they might at one point but Vettel was still 0.166 seconds quicker than the fastest Mercedes of Bottas.

Kimi Raikkonen set the pace in the second practice session under lights, the only running in representative conditions as it took place at the same time as qualifying and the race.

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

Dutchman Max Verstappen, who missed the first session due to a power failure, was fifth for Red Bull ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo. "In clear air we were actually very, very strong", the 28-year-old told reporters.

"On the softs, the vehicle were much better, but putting the softer compound on, the supersoft, it looks like we're overheating and therefore not extracting the optimum grip".

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.

Renault was best of the rest as Nico Hulkenberg finished while Carlos Sainz was not much further behind in eighth.

Eliminated: 16th Romain Grosjean (Haas), 17th Marcus Ericsson (Sauber), 18th Sergey Sirotkin (Williams), 19th Charles Leclerc (Sauber), 20th Lance Stroll (Williams).