BIC, Sakhir – Sebastian Vettel set the fastest-ever lap at Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) on Saturday night en route to securing pole position for Sunday’s blockbuster night race, the Formula 1 2018 Gulf Bahrain Grand Prix.

Vettel registered a blistering time of 1 minute 27.958 seconds as he set BIC’s 5.412-kilometre track alight late in Q3.

The German was joined by several others in smashing the previous lap record of 1:28.769 set in last year’s qualifying by Valtteri Bottas. They included Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen, Bottas and Mercedes partner Lewis Hamilton, and Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing, who were classified second through fifth, respectively.

Raikkonen posted a time of 1:28.101, while Bottas followed with a lap of 1:28.124.

Hamilton set a time of 1:28.220 but he drops to ninth on the grid in the race following a penalty issued on Friday night after his car needed to be fitted with a new gearbox.

Ricciardo’s best lap in Q3 was 1:28.398. Behind the top five in Q1 were Pierre Gasly of Toro Rosso, Kevin Magnussen of Haas, Nico Hulkenberg of Renault, Esteban Ocon of Force India and Carlos Sainz of Renault.

Earlier in qualifying, Romain Grosjean of Haas had a disappointing exit from Q1. Joining him were Marcus Ericsson of Sauber, Sergey Sirotkin of Williams, Charles Leclerc of Sauber and Lance Stroll of Williams.

The session was red-flagged midway through after Max Verstappen crashed his Red Bull on Turn three. He was, however, able to clock a lap time that was good enough to get him into Q2, although he did not participate any further due to the damage to his car.

There was disappointment in the ensuing Q2 session for Brendon Hartley of Toro Rosso, Sergio Perez of Force India and the McLaren tandem of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne, all dropping out with Verstappen.

The Formula 1 2018 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix is scheduled to flag off at 6.10pm Sunday night.