Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel will start on the front of the grid for the Bahrain Grand Prix. Photo: Luca Bruno/AP Photo

SAKHIR Championship leader Sebastian Vettel will start his 200th Formula One race from pole position after he and Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen locked out the front row for Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix.

The German secured his 51st career pole with a supreme lap in the closing stages of a tense qualifying session under floodlights in which Ferrari were dominant on Saturday.

"Yes, P1! Pole position," said Vettel. "That was a lion lap."

Valtteri Bottas was third fastest for Mercedes behind the two Ferraris, but ahead of his team-mate, defending champion Lewis Hamilton who has a five-place grid penalty after an overnight gearbox change.

That will promote Australian Daniel Ricciardo from fifth to fourth for Red Bull ahead of Frenchman Pierre Gasly of Toro Rosso and Dane Kevin Magnussen of Haas.

German Nico Hulkenberg was eighth for Renault ahead of Frenchman Sebastian Ocon in the second Toro Rosso and Spaniard Carlos Sainz in the second Renault.

Sebastian Vettel produced a flying last lap in qualifying Saturday to take pole for Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix.

The German, winner of the season-opener in Melbourne, will be joined on the front row by his Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

Lewis Hamilton produced the fourth fastest time at the floodlit circuit in Sakhir but the Mercedes world champion will start from ninth on the grid after picking up a five-place penalty for gearbox change.

Hamilton's Mercedes teammate Vatteri Bottas came in third with Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo moving up to join the Finn on the second row in place of the Brit.

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