Hamilton - Ferrari engine modes easily as good as ours

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Lewis Hamilton will have to do what no Formula One driver has ever done to win Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix after an unscheduled gearbox change left the Mercedes driver facing a five-place grid penalty.

The only sour note for Ferrari was the sight of Raikkonen pulling off the track towards the end of the session with a loose front-right wheel, although the Finn escaped a grid penalty. But Hamilton, who scored two of those three wins for Mercedes and is on course to match Kimi Raikkonen's record of 27 straight points finishes this weekend, goes into the race determined to make up for his lost Australian win.

Lewis Hamilton, who travelled in to the weekend favorite for victory after noticed it sailed off by an illtimed digital safety auto two weeks ago at the season-opener at Melbourne, was just fourth fastest, 0.823 minutes away Raikkonen's most useful.

Vettel said: "I am really happy I got the second run and needed to keep away from the kerb but the vehicle has been excellent all weekend. The auto was excellent all weekend so far".

The gap between the Ferraris was also small - Raikkonen had a slight edge on pace, as he had in the first race of the season in Australia, but was just 0.011secs ahead of Vettel.

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The British star had wound up fourth fastest earlier in Friday's second free practice session at the Bahrain International Circuit. I meant it. On a track like Bahrain, with a very abrasive surface, and lots of heat, we struggled. "If we look purely at lap times it was OK, but that doesn't tell you much; It's only the first day and it's impossible to know what the others were doing".

Dutchman Max Verstappen, who missed the first session due to a power failure, was fifth for Red Bull ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo. "We made some good progress through the weekend".

Kevin Magnussen was just 29 thousandths of a second slower in seventh, with the Renaults of Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr sandwiching the Force India of Esteban Ocon in ninth. 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.

Fernando Alonso was 0.313s clear of teammate Stoffel Vandoorne, but that will be little consolation for the two-time champion who was 0.4s off the Honda-powered Toro Rosso of Gasly.

Williams are in even more trouble - Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll were 18th and 20th respectively, a poor result for a once-great team that finished third in the championship as recently as 2015.

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