BAHRAIN GP – Vettel wins a tense battle as Hamilton battles from ninth to third, with Gasly best of the rest

Testing & Race Reports

Sebastian Vettel has hung on despite a strong challenge from Mercedes Valtteri Bottas to win the Bahrain Grand Prix. The German hung on despite his tyres which were well past their best, which allowed Bottas to close up on fresher tyres.

The Ferrari driver pitted early on in the race on lap eighteen going for soft tyres, before closing down on Lewis Hamilton who had made his way from ninth on the grid to finish third. It was a thrilling race between the top three, but Vettel grew the lead despite his tyres being well past there best.

Hamilton proved his skills as an overtaker early on, and through the closing stages of the race looked a threat to both Vettel and Bottas, as the Ferrari’s one-stop strategy appeared to fall apart.  Hamilton had run longer into the race, making it look as it would turn towards him later.

Vettel’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen was running third when he was forced to retire after a botched pitstop. Ferrari struggled to attach the rear tyre on his second stop when he collided and hit a mechanic and was forced to retire. It’s understood that the mechanic was taken to the medical centre with a broken leg.

Ferrari was awarded a fine of fifty thousand euros for an unsafe release and endangering team personnel.

As the race entered its closing stages, it began to look as if Bottas could have closed up on Vettel. Bottas was closing in a second a lap in the last ten laps, as he got into the final corner he attempted a last-ditch attempt to pass Vettel. However, he wasn’t close enough to get the move done.

Vettel said on the podium “I think I came on the radio with 10 laps to go saying everything was under control. That was a lie. With Bottas’ pace I thought he would catch me. I tried to keep it as clean as possible. Our plan worked but just, Bottas had a bit of a sniff but ran out of laps”

Hamilton told Sky Sports “I am honestly really happy with it. Emotion is always firing. I am sure people watching on the edge of their seats can get an idea. It is so intense” I was really grateful my car was not broken (after the early Verstappen clash).”

“That would have been difficult but I am 17 points down after two races. Hopefully, at the next race we will have a better understanding of the tyres and a better fight with the Ferraris.”

Pierre Gasly’s strong start to the season in the Honda-powered Toro Rosso finishing fourth. The Italian team has made a brilliant start to the season after the Japanese engine manufacturer made a step forward on both performance and reliability.

Gasly kept clear of the battle Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg, as they both clashed on the opening lap and escaped undamaged. Magnussen also had a near-miss with team-mate Romain Grosjean, who was out of sync on old tyres, at Turn 2 in the second half of the race to finish fifth.

Gasly told Sky Sports: “Unbelievable. We never expected something like this. I am super happy, I am struggling to realise but big thank you for the team with the car. I don’t know what to say, I am just happy for today.”

While the Red Bull junior team had a strong race, senior team Red Bull had an awful evening in Sakhir. Both Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen were both forced to retire in the first six laps, the first double retirement since Korea in 2010.

Verstappen had already had a tough start to the race, he had collided with Hamilton fighting for position on the second lap.

Haas’s strong start to the season continued with Magnussen finishing fifth ahead of Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso. Alonso’s teammate Stoffel Vandoorne was eighth after he used the medium tyres to make up places with a long first stint.

That also was the strategy used by Sauber, with Marcus Ericsson doing a long first stint before switching to softs on his way to ninth.  Force India’s Esteban Ocon was tenth.

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Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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