Lewis Hamilton treating Bahrain GP as 'damage limitation'

Where do Mc Laren sit in the pecking order? | Image Octane

Raikkonen was over half-a-second quicker than Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo who were second and third respectively.

"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.

"I agree that we were not having the pace this weekend that we've been expecting coming here but we also didn't have anything new since Melbourne", he said.

The surprise package of qualifying was Pierre Gasly's Toro Rosso.

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes will be out to make amends at the second stop on the 2018 Formula One calendar in Bahrain, but the driver has a five-place grid penalty to overcome.

"Far from ideal in the last run with the traffic but what can I do?" said the 2007 world champion.

"It's not going to be the easiest tomorrow that's for sure". The vehicle is better, but we need to get it in the right window.

Whether he can replicate that pace in a race scenario remains to be seen, but the fact he and team-mate Brendon Hartley went sixth and 11th quickest represents huge progress from their Q1 eliminations in Melbourne.

The pressure will be on Bottas to fly the German manufacturer's flag against the Italian team in Sunday's race, a tough task after the pace they showed in practice.

Lewis Hamilton, who travelled in to the weekend favorite for victory after noticed it sailed off by an illtimed digital safety vehicle two weeks ago at the season-opener at Melbourne, was just fourth fastest, 0.823 minutes away Raikkonen's most useful.

Max Verstappen crashed on the exit of Turn Two, losing control as his vehicle slewed across the track and into the barriers.

Despite his best efforts to chase the German down, it was Ferrari on the top step of the podium for the second successive year.

Eight minutes later, the session resumed.

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

Two weeks ago when Sebastian Vettel won the Australian Grand Prix, he acknowledged fortune had played a part in his victory in the opening race of the season.

His race engineer informed him that the Ferrari was running in a more powerful engine mode according to the pit wall's Global Positioning System data, but there was no doubt Hamilton left plenty of lap time on the table in the corners as well.

Although Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas missed a place on the front row by just two hundredths of a second, the Finn says his team is baffled as to why Ferrari has the edge this weekend.



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