Sebastian Vettel takes pole position for Bahrain GP ahead of Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel in action at the Bahrain Grand Prix, where he will start the race in pole position. (REUTERS)
Updated 07 April 2018
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Sebastian Vettel takes pole position for Bahrain GP ahead of Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen

SAKHIR, Bahrain: Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix followed by Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen on Saturday.
World champion Lewis Hamilton could only manage fourth, and will start from ninth on Sunday after incurring a grid penalty.
Raikkonen looked like he was going to get his first pole since last year’s Monaco GP, but Vettel beat his time right at the end of qualifying under floodlights to clinch his 51st pole.
“It was quite intense,” Vettel said. “The car has been excellent all weekend.”
Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas was third.
“It’s disappointing for us not to be on the front row,” Bottas said.
Ferrari’s evening got even better when Hamilton finished behind Bottas, his teammate. Hamilton’s five-place grid penalty is because he needed a gearbox change on Friday.
“Hopefully Lewis can come back and put some pressure on these guys,” Bottas said.
Drivers must use gearboxes for six consecutive races before being allowed a new one. Hamilton’s problem was caused by a hydraulic leak sustained during the season-opening Australian GP two weeks ago.
Vettel, last year’s championship runner-up, has a golden chance to extend his overall lead. The German driver won in Melbourne — his 48th career win and 100th podium — with Hamilton finishing second after his team made an error of judgment during Vettel’s pitstop.
Daniel Ricciardo qualified fifth on Saturday but his Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen managed only 15th after crashing in Q1.
It was a clumsy error from the 20-year-old Verstappen.
Heading into turn 2, he slid sideways off and thudded into the crash barriers, the left front wheel of his car mangled. It has been a poor start to the season from Verstappen. He span his car after pushing too hard early on in Melbourne two weeks ago and finished sixth.
At the start of qualifying, Romain Grosjean (Haas), Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin (both Williams), Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc (both Sauber) were eliminated from Q1.
New Zealand driver Brendon Hartley complained about damage to his left front wing and soon find out why: he had hit a bird. He’d done enough to make it into Q2, however.
Hartley, Verstappen and Force India’s Sergio Perez were then eliminated from Q2, along with Fernando Alonso and his McLaren teammate Stoffel Vandoorne.
It was a blow to McLaren, after both drivers finished the race in Melbourne in the top 10, with Alonso in fifth place.
McLaren entered the season with high hopes after switching to Renault engines, following three troublesome seasons with Honda. But Toro Rosso chose to work with the Japanese engine supplier and both of their drivers did better in qualifying than McLaren.
Earlier, Raikkonen posted the fastest time in the third and final practice.
Hamilton expressed his annoyance over team radio as he came into the pit lane after P3, saying spectators got too close to his Mercedes.
“Who were those people on the left-hand side?” the British driver said. “I was coming in at some speed, I could have killed them.”
It was a frustrating day for Hamilton, who is vying with Vettel for a fifth world title to move level with Argentine great Juan Manuel Fangio.


Naomi Osaka shocked as Kristina Mladenovic downs world No. 1 in Dubai

Updated 19 February 2019
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Naomi Osaka shocked as Kristina Mladenovic downs world No. 1 in Dubai

  • It was Osaka's first match since she won the Australian Open — her second consecutive Grand Slam title.
  • World No. 67 Mladenovic lost for words after surprise win.

DUBAI: Naomi Osaka stumbled badly in her first match since winning the Australian Open as the world number one went down in a flurry of errors to exit the Dubai Championships on Tuesday.
Dubai-based Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic claimed a 6-3, 6-3 victory to reach the third round as Osaka made 25 unforced errors.
The rout, which featured seven breaks of the Osaka serve, took barely an hour, sending Mladenovic into a Wednesday contest with Carla Suarez Navarro.
“This is my home tournament, I live here,” world No. 67 Mladenovic said. “It’s great to get a win like this in front of a big crowd.
“Beating the number one is always special.”
The second set was riddled with seven consecutive breaks of serve before Mladenovic finished off the job with a winner to the empty court on match point.
Osaka stunned the tennis world last week by announcing her split from coach Sascha Bajin despite winning back-to-back Grand Slam titles at the US and Australian Opens.
She said earlier this week that she would not prioritize “success over happiness” when asked about the sacking, and she never looked like winning in Dubai as she also served five double faults.
Earlier on Tuesday, Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova both won their opening matches, while Elina Svitolina made a strong start to her bid for a third straight title.
Kvitova, the 2013 winner, recovered from losing a first-set tiebreak to defeat Katerina Siniakova 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-4 and squeeze into the third round.
Halep, Dubai champion in 2015, saw off 2014 Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard 7-6 (7/4), 6-4.
The Romanian said she is still feeling the effects of her weekend final defeat in Doha by Elize Mertens.
“It was a good match because I won it. I tried to finish the points faster because I’m a little bit tired,” Halep said.
“She played well, the level was pretty good. At some points I really ran very well. I’m confident. I feel good on court even if I’m tired.”
A third former world number one also advanced as Angelique Kerber beat Dalila Jakupovic 7-6 (7/4), 6-3.
Kvitova, Wimbledon champion in 2011 and 2014, said she was unfazed about the early midday start to her match.
“I don’t really care if I play the first match,” the Australian Open runner-up said. “Now I’m done, so I have a free afternoon.
“I’m not sure what I’m pleased with... maybe with my comeback at the end.”