Bottas beats Hamilton to take pole position at Bahrain GP

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain is overtaken by teammate Valtteri Bottas of Finland left during the second practice session for the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Formula One Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir Bahrain Friday Ap

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain is overtaken by teammate Valtteri Bottas of Finland left during the second practice session for the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Formula One Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir Bahrain Friday Ap

Hamilton made a slow start from pole and collided on the first lap with the Williams of Valtteri Bottas, his new team mate this season, who was punished by stewards for his move.

Hamilton appeared set to claim his seventh pole on the spin, and 64th of his career, before Bottas - the man who has replaced champion Nico Rosberg at Mercedes this season - edged out his team-mate with the final throw of the dice.

Kimi Raikkonen, under pressure from Ferrari following two disappointing rounds, is fifth with Max Verstappen sixth.

Verstappen set his time late in the session on supersoft tyres.

The top three cars of Hamilton, Bottas and Sebastian Vettel were covered by 0.061s in Q2, hinting at the close battle to follow as the Mercedes teammates were just 0.02s apart.

Sebastian Vettel drove his Ferrari to victory in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, the team's first race victory since 2015.

Ahead of this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix, Hamilton said, "So far so good".

Outlining his desire that "nothing mechanical comes between our sheer battle in ability... an out and out fight through stubbornness, through mental stability, through composure... just outdriving the person on-track", nothing if not directly champions the perception that Rosberg inherited last year's crown on account of Hamilton's over embellished misfortune.

"If I had to choose between the two, then I choose Vettel", he added.

With the checkered flag out, Carlos Sainz had set the fastest overall first sector and was looking set to improve comfortably from 16th place when he suffered a loss of power in the final sector and was forced to stop his vehicle. Last year, Hamilton secured pole in Bahrain but Rosberg won after getting away quickly.

Moments after they had climbed out of their cars, Hamilton grabbed Bottas, hugged him and shook him firmly by the hand.

Hamilton said: "It is more exciting racing another team, very much like I experienced in 2007 and 2008 [with McLaren]".

Although not as hot as Friday, drivers still had to deal with afternoon track temperatures of 37 degrees Celsius (99 degrees Fahrenheit) during P3.

Renault struggled again, with Nico Hulkenberg losing time en route to 12th after running wide at the final corner, and a fluctuating MGU-K and a faulty DRS hampering Jolyon Palmer on his way to 15th.

Alonso, a two-time world champion, did not even make it into Q2 after his engine's power unit broke down. Jenson Button, his replacement for Monte Carlo, is unlikely to be chomping at the bit to get back in the hapless McLaren.

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