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Ferrari's Raikkonen tops the timesheets in Closing Bahrain GP practice

08 April, 2018, 01:23 | Author: Rachael Silva
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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.

The only sour note for Ferrari was the sight of Raikkonen pulling off the track towards the end of the session with a loose front-right wheel, although the Finn escaped 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.

The German, victor a year ago 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.

If being beaten by both Ferraris and his teammate wasn't bad enough, Hamilton will drop a further five places to ninth on the grid due to an unscheduled gearbox change on Friday night.

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

It's Vettel's 200th career start, Hamilton's 100th start for Mercedes and Bottas's 100th Grand Prix start overall.

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. Really happy I got the second run and got it clean.

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.

Vettel admitted after winning the season opener in Australia that his team still needed to make improvements to the SF71H, so F1 rivals Mercedes came into Bahrain favourites after Lewis Hamilton's dominant Q3 performance in Melbourne. I know exactly what I want, and we need to work on it. Here the track improves all the time, with more grip every lap.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen was fifth, ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo. "We made some good progress through the weekend".

Toro Rosso rookie Pierre Gasly is next on the grid, promising an intriguing start to Sunday's race.

Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz put Renault best-of-the-rest with the seventh and eighth quickest times.

Williams are in even more trouble - Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll were 18th and 20th respectively, a poor result for a once-great team that finished third in the championship as recently as 2015.


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