Ferrari's Bahrain pace flattered by "high-power mode" - Mercedes

Jonathan Hernandez
April 8, 2018

Ferrari has since been fined 5,000 euros by the FIA for an unsafe release, but Raikkonen avoided a three-place grid penalty. But Hamilton, who scored two of those three wins for Mercedes and is on course to match Kimi Raikkonen's record of 27 straight points finishes this weekend, goes into the race determined to make up for his lost Australian win.

Hamilton followed up his opening practice best time of one minute 24.026 seconds with 1:23.931 in the second session to hold a 0.127sec gap over Red Bull's Max Verstappen (1:24.058).

"I was very happy with both laps in the end, and very happy with the result and the way the vehicle was handling and responding", he added.

Ferrari have looked to have an edge on Mercedes all weekend, Hamilton and Bottas battling inconsistent handling on the stop-start Sakhir circuit in the desert south of the Bahraini capital Manama.

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. "Hopefully, I'll be able to get up at least to where (Daniel) Ricciardo is and then overtaking from then on is going to be very tough".

A Mercedes spokesman confirmed Hamilton would have a new gearbox for final practice and qualifying, incurring an automatic five-place penalty.

That latest setback will hamper the Mercedes driver's chances of producing an immediate response to Vettel, who benefited from a Mercedes software glitch to beat the Briton in Melbourne.

Raikkonen set the fastest time in Free Practice Two but looked as though he might lose his spot at the top of the times when he was forced to pull over due to a loose front wheel. Here the track improves all the time, with more grip every lap.

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

Kevin Magnussen was just 29 thousandths of a second slower in seventh, with the Renaults of Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr sandwiching the Force India of Esteban Ocon in ninth.

Gasly was just 1.371secs off pole in the Toro Rosso, a spectacular performance from the Frenchman, who is in his first full season in F1 after being drafted in towards the end of last season.

Frenchman Pierre Gasly was ninth in his Honda-powered Toro Rosso with Fernando Alonso, a three-times victor in Bahrain, rounding out the top 10 in his McLaren.

Sadly, Williams were also-rans in qualifying, with Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll starting tomorrow's race in 18th and 20th.

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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