Vettel Wins Second Race Of The Year For Ferrari At Bahrain

Hamilton, who has been upbeat about the battle of champions and the fight his Mercedes team have on their hands, appeared more subdued as mechanics cleared the Bahrain Grand Prix paddock.

Things could have been a lot different for Hamilton and Vettel at the Bahrain Grand Prix had the Brit not got a five-second penalty for slowing down unnecessarily in the pit.

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas of Finland, left, takes a curve followed by teammate Lewis Hamilton of Britain during the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix, at the Formula One Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, Sund.

Hamilton said of his error: "Yeah, completely my fault with the safety auto".

"These were quite good conditions for me today with our vehicle". They did a great job and we have to make improvements.

"It is great to know we have a strong vehicle and be able to fight for wins", the four-time champion said.

"It's a really great team effort today", said a jubilant Vettel.

Mr. Vettel had took the lead from Pole sitter Valtteri Bottas early as he struggled with over-steering on his MercedesAMG racer. It was his 11th podium. I was surprised I came out ahead of all of them as I thought we may have lost the advantage with the safety auto. "It was a really tricky race today". Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 00:22.475; 5.

"For sure, I did it because there was potential that Lewis could challenge Sebastian", said Bottas.

Hamilton apologised to Mercedes for damaging his own chances by earning a five-second penalty for deliberately slowing Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo as they pitted for fresh tyres under a safety vehicle early in the race.

Hamilton added: "The pit lane was my fault so apologies to the team". I had to try and build a gap but there was no grip to build it. "We will push hard together, keep fighting". Losing points for a team, particularly when you could have won the race, is definitely painful but I gave it everything I could.

The three-time world champion said the penalty was a setback, but that his Mercedes may not have been fast enough to overhaul the triumphant Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel.

It was 24 degrees Celsius (75 Fahrenheit) with a refreshing breeze when the race started at 6 p.m. local time (1500 GMT) and finished under floodlights.

Hamilton and Bottas rounded out the podium for Mercedes with the pole victor finishing 20 seconds down on Vettel thus failing to convert his maiden F1 pole into a win.

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

Kevin Magnussen was the first retirement from the race, parking his Haas on Lap 9 at Turn 8. The 19-year-old Verstappen, who had driven so well from 16th place on the grid to finish third in China last weekend, climbed out and kicked the barriers in frustration.

Soon after Vettel reentered the track a full course yellow came out for a collision between Williams' Lance Stroll and Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz.

"Hopefully that sort of success now in the first couple of races helps us to build up some sort of momentum that maybe these guys (Mercedes) had in the past and the last couple of years, so they will be the ones to beat".

Vettel and Bottas were wheel with the Ferrari driver nearly out of shape before the entry of turn three. At this point, Vettel had a substantial lead but, with a fresh set of tires, he quickly overtook Bottas for second and was eating up the gap between him and Vettel. He took on his penalty, too, to leave him back in third.

  • Julie Sanders