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    REPORT: Close Qualifying Under the Lights The team emerged second bes...

The team emerged second best in a hard-fought Qualifying session for Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton at the Bahrain International Circuit.

What Happened?

-  Lewis was fourth quickest with a 1:30.692 on SuperSoft tyres in Saturday afternoon's final practice session. He completed 14 laps.

-  Team-mate Valtteri ended FP3 in sixth with a 1:30.781, also on SuperSofts, and managed 16 laps during the 60-minute daylight session.

-  Under dark skies and floodlights, both drivers easily progressed through to the final segment of Qualifying.

-  Lewis set his best time in Q2 on the Soft compound, so he will therefore start Sunday's race on that tyre.

-  The battle for pole position in Q3 was tight, with Valtteri getting closest to the leading two Ferraris with a 1:28.124.

-  The Finn narrowly missed out on a front row spot by just 0.023 seconds and had to settle for third place on the grid.

-  Lewis was close behind in fourth place, putting in a 1:28.220. However, he will start the race P9 due to a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

What Did We Learn?

There wasn't much in it, but we just didn't have enough to overhaul the Ferrari drivers - who were very quick throughout Saturday's running.

According to Technical Director James Allison, it looks set to be a close Bahrain GP and one that'll hopefully see Lewis charging his way through the field. 

"Although we made a small step forward relative to our performance yesterday, we were disappointed to learn this afternoon that it was not enough to compete on level terms with Ferrari," James explained.

"However, we know from Friday's long runs in practice that we have good tyre degradation, and there is every reason to expect a close race tomorrow, especially for Valtteri who will start from the clean side of the grid.

"With Lewis, we will need to be quite imaginative with the strategy to allow him to recover from the gearbox penalty - but this is a circuit where overtaking is possible, although never easy, and which will offer opportunities to make progress by starting on the soft compound."

What We're Saying

Valtteri: "It's disappointing not to be in the first row. We've made some good progress through the weekend, but Ferrari was quicker today.

"We definitely have work to do at this type of circuits and in these kind of conditions. I think we have the right set-up of the car for the race, but it's difficult to estimate the race pace.

"It's going to be really closely matched between Ferrari, Red Bull and us, so it should be an interesting race.

"I learned a lot about tyre management last year at this track that I think I can use this year.

"We'll definitely go for it tomorrow and hopefully Lewis can also come back to get some good points so we can keep the pressure on Ferrari."

Lewis: "Today wasn't the best of days and tomorrow is going to be one of the hardest races for us in some time.

"We've been trying to get ahead of the Ferraris, but it has been tough, they just had the pace all weekend.

"It wasn't the greatest of laps from my side and Ferrari had the edge as they often do in these hotter conditions.

"The goal for tomorrow is damage limitation. I've got the Soft tyre, so I should be able to go longer - it's going to be interesting to see, there's a couple of different strategies tomorrow.

"I'll try and eke out every last bit of power and strength from this car. I don't know what we are going to be able to achieve tomorrow, but I will give it everything I've got and hope that I can do something."

Toto: "This was a difficult Qualifying session for us but about what we expected after practice yesterday and today.

"Ferrari have always been strong in the hot conditions and they confirmed that with their one-two in Qualifying, with pace that was just out of reach for both Valtteri and Lewis.

"We have said through the winter that the performance between the top teams is very close and this result simply confirmed it.

"Like always, we need to keep our feet on the ground, stay humble and keep working.

"The long runs in practice were very close between Ferrari, Red Bull and ourselves, so there is still much to play for tomorrow. But it's clear from today that Ferrari will start as favourites."

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