Five-place grid penalty for Lewis Hamilton in Bahrain

Esther Moore
April 8, 2018

Sebastian Vettel will head an all-Ferrari front row at the Bahrain Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton will start ninth after a grid penalty. Hamilton ended up second because his team made an error of judgment during Vettel's pitstop.

The Ferrari driver, who also had the best lap in second practice on Saturday, clocked a leading time of 1 minute, 29.9 seconds on the 5.4-kilometer (3.3-mile) desert circuit.

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

Hamilton has to take a five-place grid penalty for changing a gearbox on Friday.

The reigning world champion was forced to settle for second in the season opener in Australia as a shrewd strategy call from Ferrari handed Sebastian Vettel victory. "First run in Q3 I was very happy and then I tossed it away last corner".

"No I'm definitely not where I [need to be]", Hamilton said.

Vettel will want the honours to continue coming in, and while he won last week, the Ferrari star will be wary of a Mercedes team that will want to storm back. It looked like a similar error, just losing control of the auto through the apex, at a race Red Bull would have hoped to have two cars putting Ferrari under pressure from the very start.

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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. Here the track improves all the time, with more grip every lap.

Dutchman Max Verstappen, who missed the first session due to a power failure, was fifth for Red Bull ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo. We tried some things that didn't work which is why the gap was sometimes bigger.

Toro Rosso rookie Pierre Gasly is next on the grid, promising an intriguing start to Sunday's race. It looked like we were a bit quicker than the rest but it depends a bit on the programme.

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.

Esteban Ocon returned Force India to the top ten for the first time this year with a solid performance to edge the second Renault of Carlos Sainz by 0.112s.

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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