Ricciardo almost needed to use supersofts to progress, but the Red Bull driver was just safe as errors from those behind allowed him to back off out of the final corner and avoid a lap time improvement.
"Everything we bring to the track is delivering the expectations and the lap times we were expecting from them", Alonso said.
As you were: Mercedes took its first pole position since the season-opener in Melbourne.
Shortly after however, the session was under the control of the VSC when Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo put his RB14 in the barriers at the Turn 4 right-hander. Despite missing out on pole position by 0.132s - a step in performance a clean lap on the super-soft should have offered over the soft - Vettel is confident he made the right decision.
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"The mistake this morning was a costly one and I missed the final hour of the session because of it", Ricciardo said.
He added: "I was trying to go for every sector record but I'll take the middle one". "It is a little bit disheartening as I don't really know what I could have done more".
"We are drivers - not to say that we know everything, we don't know anything about engineering the vehicle - but we know how the cars feel, and their limitations to overtake, but we're not really asked".
Romain Grosjean, who crashed under the safety vehicle in Azerbaijan, was the first to face trouble in the afternoon session, losing control of his Haas and getting stuck on the gravel. "So that's a positive thing".
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He was classified 20th and was eliminated along with German Nico Hulkenberg, who suffered fuel problems with his Renault, Swede Marcus Ericsson of Sauber and Russian rookie Sergey Sirotkin and his Williams team-mate Canadian teenager Lance Stroll.
The Ferrari team ran with a package of upgraded new parts on their cars including rear-view mirrors set on their "halo" head protectors.
Brendon Hartley of Toro Rosso did not make it to qualifying because the team was not able to fix his auto after a crash in the final minutes of Saturday's practice. The new record of 1:16.173 may go unbeaten for several years as 2019's regulation changes are expected to make the cars 1.5s slower. The vehicle spun and hit the barrier while rolling backward, although any damage appeared to be restricted to the right rear corner of the auto. Such was the impact with the barriers that the gearbox snapped off when the auto was lifted from the gravel trap and there was no chance of getting the vehicle rebuilt in the two hours between the end of final practice and the start of Q1.
Stroll almost hit the tire barriers after going off the track with about a half-hour left in the first session. He had also gone to the gravel in practice earlier on Saturday and on Friday.
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Updates with quotes by Ricciardo, Magnussen.