Vettel: Gap to Mercedes bigger than expected

Sebastian Vettel is level on points in the title race with Lewis Hamilton
Sebastian Vettel is level on points in the title race with Lewis Hamilton
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16 April, 2017

While both Hamilton and Vettel failed to improve on their final timed laps, Bottas delivered when it mattered most to beat Hamilton by just two hundredths of a second on this 3.4-mile circuit.

Mercedes' Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas celebrates after taking the pole position at the end of the qualifying for the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Sakhir circuit in Manama on April 15, 2017.

Max Verstappen is confident he could get the better of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel if he had the same auto as the leading duo.

Hamilton and Vettel are level on points in the title race with a first and second place each.

Hamilton, joking and laughing in a later news conference, appeared delighted for Bottas and offered a warm handshake to a man who left China last weekend with his mind in turmoil after a costly mistake behind the safety auto.

"Valtteri's been right there with us from the beginning, so nothing changes", Hamilton said.

"I'm biased because I want Ferrari to win for the fans, for F1, for everyone but I think it could be a great battle". We have learned more what not to do.

Valtteri Bottas stunned Lewis Hamilton with time running out as he claimed his first career pole in a dominant Mercedes performance in qualifying for the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix.

"More exciting racing another team, like I experienced 2007 and 2008.So be among the fight between a Silver Arrow and a Ferrari is great, more exciting then just two Silver Arrows".

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Vettel was a slightly distant third, just under half a second behind the Mercedes front row lockout and a few tenths clear of Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull in fourth.

Bahrain has been a happy hunting ground for Grosjean who has finished on the podium twice for Lotus and past year he recorded Haas' best F1 result finishing fifth in a race won by Mercedes Nico Rosberg.

Moments after they had climbed out of their cars, Hamilton grabbed Bottas, hugged him and shook him firmly by the hand.

In response to Bottas' comments, Vettel quipped: "I wouldn't mind!"

"See, it doesn't exist", said Vettel. "And Ferrari are at their best in years, in a decade, pretty much", Hamilton said.

"I don't know really", concluded Bottas. We will plan a good strategy but good place to start.

Felipe Massa was eighth for Williams ahead of Romain Grosjean of Haas and Jolyon Palmer in the second Renault.

German driver Pascal Wehrlein also made a strong return after a back injury kept him out of the first two races, qualifying 13th for Sauber while Swedish team mate Marcus Ericsson was only 19th.


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