Kimi Raikkonen Takes Friday Practice in Bahrain

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The four-times world champion will start ninth in his Mercedes due to a five place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change after setting the fourth-fastest time in Saturday's qualifying.

After qualifying fourth - which will become ninth on the grid once he serves a penalty for a gearbox change in his vehicle - behind Valtteri Bottas and an all-Ferrari front row, he repeated that viewpoint. Vettel was joined by Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen on the podium.

Hamilton came to Bahrain knowing he was in for a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, so he needed to be on his game - with a ideal vehicle - to minimise the damage and give himself the best chance in the race.

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.

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.

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

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Hamilton knew before coming to Bahrain that he would have a grid penalty and that his job in qualifying was to minimise the damage to his hopes in the race. "The vehicle was excellent all weekend so far".

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. "In clear air we were actually very, very strong", the 28-year-old told reporters. "We made some good progress through the weekend". He was fourth fastest at the time and was on target for a top six grid position, but will now start Sunday's race from 15th on the grid.

Nico Hulkenberg along with Carlos Sainz place Renault best-of-the-rest with all the eighth and seventh quickest situations.

That put him just ahead of Sergio Perez in the second Force India, with the McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne never looking to have top 10 pace and ending up 13th and 14th after struggling for grip.

Sauber's Marcus Ericsson failed to improve on his third and final Q1 run and ended up 17th ahead of Williams driver Sergey Sirotkin, who had to rely on his first-run time.

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