Saturday's qualifying session saw Red Bull world champion Sebastian Vettel snatching first pole position for the upcoming 2012 Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix.

Vettel's timing was 0.098 seconds quicker than McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, with Red Bull team-mates Mark Webber and Jenson Button pulling in third and fourth position on the second row, the Telegraph reported. Mercedes' Michael Schumacher, seven-times world champion, was cut out at the 18th, with Ferrari's Felipe Massa qualifying for the 14th position.

All in all, twenty-four drivers will be contending for the top position at Sunday's main race, which is scheduled to start at 12 noon GMT at the Bahrain International Circuit at Sakhir.

Meanwhile, violent protests have flared across the country with Bahrain police dispelling tear gas and stun grenades at masked protesters, who have demanded to cancel the race.

Here are the first images of the season's practice and qualifying sessions held prior to Sunday's main event.