Bottas feels 'more at one' with Mercedes vehicle

Lewis Hamilton is confident that Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas is in contention for this year's Formula 1 drivers' championship, saying the Finn is keeping him on his toes after taking his maiden pole position in Bahrain.

"The first lap was good. I'm thoroughly happy for Valtteri today, he really deserved it".

Daniel Ricciardo pipped Kimi Raikkonen to fourth by 0.022s as a Red Bull ventured as high as the second row for the first time this year.

Ahead of the Finn's 82nd race in F1 he became its 67th pole position victor, joining countrymen Kimi Raikkonen, Keke Rosberg, Mika Hakkinen and Heikki Kovalainen in achieving the feat, the latter of which brought the Scandinavian nation its last Saturday success at Silverstone in 2008.

Bottas' thrilling final lap followed flipped the script for Hamilton, who was setting the pace for much of Saturday's qualifying. It was the first pole in Bottas' career. I think we should be closer. We need to focus for the race and get the maximum out of it. "The most important thing is to be ready for tomorrow's race". Vettel's victory in Australia was down to strategy, while Hamilton was helped in China by Ferrari's decision to pit under the Virtual Safety Car, only for said safety car to ruin that strategy laps later.

"The auto was good overall, I thought there was a lot of potential, but for many little reasons we never really got the time out of it", Raikkonen said. "We should have a good auto in the race and take it from there". "It will definitely be a close battle. I'm generally happy with the job I did and it's great for the team to be one-two". Because it is a completely new vehicle this year and we maybe had to understand it a bit more from the first few races compared to Mercedes and Ferrari.

"Obviously, I am really happy", said Bottas.

"It's my first pole in, my career in my fifth season in F1 so it took a few years but hopefully it's the first of many for me". I was quite safe to the cars behind, I was confident, the vehicle felt good so I tried a bit harder.

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 don't necessarily know how good their long runs were, but I heard that they were quite quick, the Ferraris, so it's definitely going to be close, all of us, and looking after the tires is definitely very hard".

"I don't know if they had an update for here which allowed them to push harder but it seems that we lost a little bit of time everywhere".

Vandoorne starts from 17th, making it unlikely that McLaren will get in the points here.



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