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Bottas takes Bahrain pole, Ricciardo 4th

Associated Press logo Associated Press 15/04/2017

Valtteri Bottas pipped his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton right at the end of qualifying to take pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix as Australia's Daniel Ricciardo also finished with his best lap to take fourth on the grid.

Hamilton had taken pole in the first two races of the season and had the leading time, until Bottas beat him on the last lap. It was the Finnish driver's first ever pole - denying Hamilton his 64th. Hamilton had also taken pole in Bahrain for the past two years.

Bottas clocked a leading time of 1 minute, 28.769 seconds over the 5.4-kilometre track in Sakhir, compared to 1:28.792 for Hamilton.

"Boom. That's my first one, guys," Bottas proudly told his team over race radio before adding he is finally starting to feel comfortable with the car.

"It took a few races, but hopefully it's the first of many," Bottas said later.

"I'm getting better with the set-up of the car. Feeling more comfortable."

Ricciardo, who had been struggling to match the pace of not only the silver arrows but also Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen saved his best for last.

The Australian put down a 1:26.545 on his last lap to put himself on the second row of the grid with former teammate and Ferrari star Sebastian Vettel.

The German marginally quicker than Ricciardo with a time of 1:29.247.

Still it was a pleasant surprise for Ricciardo, who couldn't quite believe he went faster than Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari.

"It's a bit of a surprise," Ricciardo said.

"We kind of thought if we put everything together there might be a chance of a second row."And yeah, we got it. I don't know what Kimi's lap was like but to jump a Ferrari is nice. It's a good little bit of progress in one week."

He predicted Red Bull will only be able to rival Mercedes and Ferrari in the race if they start poorly or run into trouble with their tyres.

"I think the others have still got a pretty big margin.

"If they run into some tyre degradation maybe we can have a bit of a go. Obviously at the start we'll see but once the race settles they'll still have a bit more pace."

Raikkonen and Verstappen filled out the third row of the grid.

Bahrain proved a watershed moment for Renault who got both their cars in the top 10 for the first time in a long time with Nico Hulkenberg in seventh and Jolyon Palmer 10th.

The Williams of Felipe Massa will start from eighth, while Romain Grosjean will start from ninth in his Haas.

It was yet another unhappy evening for McLaren's Fernando Alonso. The two-time world champion's McLaren parked in the garage due to a broken power unit and the Spaniard will start from 15th on the grid.

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