Hamilton: F1 title contender Bottas keeping me on my toes

Hamilton: F1 title contender Bottas keeping me on my toes

Hamilton: F1 title contender Bottas keeping me on my toes

For Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari, the heat did prove to be a little too much, as smoke started to pillar out of the back of his vehicle.

Hamilton's championship rival Sebastian Vettel lines up in third with the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo fourth on the grid.

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.

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas of Finland steers his vehicle during the qualifying session for the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix, at the Formula One Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, April 15, 2017.

Hamilton, who was seeking his seventh successive pole position and third in a row this season, gave his team-mate a generous hug after the session. It was the first pole in Bottas' career.

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Hamilton and Vettel top the championship with 43 points each from the first two season races. I'll work on it for tomorrow, but Valtteri found some great pace through particularly the first sector.

"My previous vehicle (the Williams) behaved different mechanically, so I'm getting used to it now".

"Congrats Valtteri Bottas 1st pole!"

Bottas also denied Hamilton his 64th pole. "I think the gap's going to be even closer".

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.

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It could have been much worse for Vettel, who appeared in significant trouble midway through the second session after reporting a problem with his Ferrari. Felt I could extract pretty much the maximum out of the auto so that's always a good feeling and for sure it always takes a bit of time to get there. Tomorrow could be his first grand prix win ever. If I keep doing what I'm doing, and that is progress every single day with the team, I feel will be at a very, very good level very soon.

The 26-year-old Finn, who has replaced retired 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg as team-mate to the three-time world champion Briton, remained phlegmatic and practical after a close floodlit qualifying session. "Today he was just quicker, he did the better job, so hat off to him", Hamilton said.

"He's been working so hard and today he was just quicker and he did a better job", said Hamilton. Sergio Perez was another name not expected to feature in the lower reaches of the classification, with the Force India driver finishing 18th after yellow flags stopped him getting in a late lap.

However, temperatures will be considerably lower for Sunday's race, which starts in the evening and finishes under floodlights.

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