`Disappointed` Hamilton apologises to Mercedes for Bahrain GP penalty

Hamilton had missed out on a seventh successive pole on Saturday, with Bottas beating him to it.

Hamilton's new Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas finished third, after starting from his maiden pole position, ahead of compatriot Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari and fifth-placed Australian Daniel Ricciardo. Three seconds separated the top five drivers.

Hamilton chased Vettel all the way to the end but was ultimately hampered by a mistake earlier in the race.

The incidents were coming fast, with 18-year-old Lance Stroll hit from the side on lap 13 by Carlos Sainz Jr. and this forced the safety auto to come out.

Stroll's vehicle was in a risky position at the exit of turn one and the safety auto was dispatched.

Amidst the chaos, Mercedes made Hamilton swap places with Valterri who was ahead of him in the beginning to let him hunt Vettel, however the unsuccessful attempt led to Valterri losing a position a few times to Hamilton. "I know it's a very tough call and I don't want to make it yet". Vettel then forged a healthy lead after which even a late charge from Hamilton did nothing to squash the Ferrari's hopes for a podium finish.

"Yes guys, that's what I'm talking about", whooped the German, who was helped by the safety auto being deployed after his first pitstop with the Mercedes duo still out, as he took the chequered flag.

Mercedes stopped both Bottas and Hamilton together.

Hamilton then showed some good pace as he again overtook Bottas, and eventually managed to cut Vettel's lead from 19 seconds to 5.8 seconds by lap 54.

The Briton, who was more than 10 seconds behind Vettel at one point, was catching the race victor on every lap, but ran out of time.

He apologised to the team afterwards for his actions, which he said might have cost him victory. "I'm pretty happy with the auto now and yesterday, on one lap pace, it was just small things". Kvyat went off at the start and dropped to last.

"It's small percentages now", he said of the difference between success and second.

Vettel's win lifted him top of the drivers' championship with 68 points ahead of Hamilton on 61 and Bottas on 38.

McLaren's relationship with Honda hit another low on Sunday after engine problems contributed to one of their cars failing to start the race, and the one which did, not making it to the end.

"I think we enjoy the moment", Vettel said. "It is a long year. We seem to have a really exciting world championship", Lauda added. Exclusively my fault. Then you get the time lost in the pit lane. Of course the disappointment is there.

Bottas was frustrated to finish third.

"It's a shame: the target today was a lot, lot higher".

"Compared to past year, I've started the race. I struggled with the pace early on".

  • Julie Sanders