Despite narrowly missing out on pole Raikkonen has made a strong start to the season, but he says nothing has dramatically changed since a year ago, where he struggled to match Vettel across the whole season.
Kimi Raikkonen produced the fastest time across Friday's sessions in FP2 as the Ferrari excelled on supersoft tyres - the Finn stopping the clock at one minute, 29.817 seconds.
Lewis Hamilton, who travelled in to the weekend favorite for victory after noticed it sailed off by an illtimed digital safety auto two weeks ago at the season-opener at Melbourne, was just fourth fastest, 0.823 minutes away Raikkonen's most useful.
Hamilton qualified fourth behind Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and his team-mate Valtteri Bottas but has a five-place drop for an unauthorised gearbox change.
"First run in Q3, I was very happy and then I tossed it away in the last corner".
Vettel said: "I am really happy I got the second run and needed to keep away from the kerb but the vehicle has been excellent all weekend". Hamilton has never won a race from outside the top six, while the Bahrain GP has never been won by anybody outside the top four. Bottas starts third for Mercedes, but Hamilton will start in ninth place after a penalty.More news: Meghan promises Sydney trip to Invictus Games after watching trials with Harry
Raikkonen set the fastest time in Free Practice Two but looked as though he might lose his spot at the top of the times when he was forced to pull over due to a loose front wheel.
The reigning world champion was forced to settle for second in the season opener in Australia as a shrewd strategy call from Ferrari handed Sebastian Vettel victory. Here the track improves all the time, with more grip every lap.
And the race, scheduled for Sunday, starts at twilight and finishes under lights in order to avoid most of the heat of the day.
"The feeling was pretty much the same everywhere, but in certain zones of the track, we want to do better".
Such support came as no surprise given their performances on the track, Williams finding it particularly hard as Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin finished FP2 17th and 18th respectively.