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Sebastian Vettel wins pole for Bahrain Grand Prix; Michael Schumacher qualifies seventh

March 13, 2010 |  7:59 am

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, picking up where he left off last season, won the pole position Saturday for the Bahrain Grand Prix that opens the Formula One season Sunday.

Vettel won four times last season, including the final race of the year in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. But the German driver said it still was "a big surprise to get pole. We didn’t know where we were with performance during the winter testing."

Felipe Massa, rebounding from a serious head injury that sidelined him for the second half of the season last year, qualified second for Ferrari at the Sakhir track on the Persian Gulf island.

Massa's new teammate and two-time champion Fernando Alonso qualified third and Lewis Hamilton of McLaren, the 2008 world champion, was fourth.

Michael Schumacher, the seven-time Formula One champion who came out of retirement this year to join the Mercedes GP team, qualified seventh.

"I am satisfied with seventh place today having been away from Formula One for such a long time," said Schumacher, who retired after the 2006 season. "By coincidence, it's the same grid position that I had when I started my career at Spa in 1991."

-- Jim Peltz

Photo: Formula One's Sebastian Vettel celebrates Saturday after winning the pole for the Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir, Bahrain. Credit: Franck Robichon / European Pressphoto Agency