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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Ferrari could have the edge in Bahrain GP qualifying

Lewis Hamilton looks too short for pole at odds-on

Valtteri Bottas under the lights of Bahrain during practice
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Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying
Channel 4 & Sky Sports F1, 4pm Saturday

Lewis Hamilton may be overrated by bookmakers who make him odds-on to claim pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Hamilton may have been keeping his powder dry during Friday's practices when he finished fifth in the morning and fourth in the afternoon.

The Mercedes will almost certainly crank up their power in the session that counts towards the grid, and Hamilton set a stunning time in Q3 in Australia last time.

However, the world champion was flattered by the cushion of 0.6 seconds by which he took pole in Melbourne. Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas wrecked his car early in the top-ten shootout while Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull's Max Verstappen made errors on their final attempts.

Ferrari look in good shape in Bahrain, which is expected to suit their car better than Melbourne did.

And as was the case in Australia, Kimi Raikkonen appears to hold a slight edge over his more illustrious teammate. The Finn outpaced Vettel in both of Friday's practices, going fastest of all in the evening session, which was run at the same time of day as qualifying will be.

And if Mercedes find enough to get ahead in qualifying it won't necessarily be Hamilton who takes pole. Valtteri Bottas took his first pole position at the track last year and was right in the mix in practice.

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo topped first practice by an eye-catching 0.3 seconds but was a fraction slower than his teammate Verstappen in the evening.

The Dutchman suffered early mechanical trouble in the earlier session which prevented him setting a laptime.

It is unlikely the Red Bulls will be able to challenge Mercedes and Ferrari in qualifying, but they could certainly make their presence felt during the race.

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If Mercedes find enough to get ahead in qualifying it won't necessarily be Hamilton who takes pole
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