Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel has retaken the lead of the championship after holding off Mercedes Lewis Hamilton to win the Bahrain Grand Prix. It was another close fight between the two men, who have seven titles between them.
The four times champion took advantage of Hamilton’s pit stop to build the lead after he had a penalty for holding Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo when he made his first pit stop. Ferrari took this to their advantage, using the undercut to get ahead.
Hamilton was trying to build the gap so that he didn’t catch his team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who pitted from the lead during the safety car. But that led to a stewards investigation and the penalty for the three times champion. Mercedes Valtteri Bottas finished third after he lost the lead in the first round of pit stops.
Vettel told Sky Sports “Right from the first lap I felt the car was there and the Easter hunt was on. They were hiding some eggs but we found them.”
Hamilton said “Congratulations to Seb. The pitlane was my fault and apologies to the team. I tried my hardest to catch up. We will push hard together, keep fighting. Losing points for the team is definitely painful but it is what it is. I am getting old!”
Kimi Raikkonen was fourth, but earlier in the race he was pushed back to seventh by Max Verstappen who past at turn one and then his former team mate Felipe Massa at turn four. Raikkonen, got back past Massa shortly after the restart following the safety car, finishing 16.8s ahead of Ricciardo.
Verstappen’s race didn’t last longer than that pit stop, as on his out lap he went straight on straight on at Turn 4 and into retirement with brake failure, plus he brought out the safety car.
The flurry of pit stops was prompted early on after Williams’ Lance Stroll and Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz collided as the latter exited the pits, that ended both men’s evenings and brought out the safety car.
Massa was best of the rest finishing sixth for Williams, which the team will be happy with as they move up to fifth in the constructors. It was a good evening’s work for Force India’s Sergio Perez partly aided by the safety car. The Mexican started eighteenth and made his way through the field.
Perez chose not to pit under the safety car, meaning he made his way through the field, while those around him opted to use the time for an extra pit stop.
There was an intense mid-race battle between Renault’s Jolyon Palmer, Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat and McLaren’s Fernando Alonso. The trio traded places through, but the Renault power eventually meant that Alonso was easy pickings.
The Spaniard moaned he had “never raced with less power in my life” later, Alonso told the team to “do what you want” when asked about his race strategy. His painful evening eventually ending with him retiring with two laps remaining
While team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne didn’t see the start, retiring with an MGU-H failure on his Honda engine, the fourth such issue suffered by the team’s two cars over the weekend. This was an embarrassing weekend for team’s Bahraini owners.
Team boss Zac Brown was forced to speak about rumours Alonso was eyeing a return to Renault. He told Sky Sports “If we give Fernando a good race car we will keep him, I’m confident of that.”
“He really likes the environment. He’s great to work with, he’s frustrated but he’s a team player and is helping motivating us. We want to give him and Stoffel a great car. I think a good race car he sticks around.”
Force India’s Esteban Ocon was consistent finishing tenth and ahead of Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein. In his first race of the season, the German was an impressive twelfth.
- NOTEBOOK – Bahrain Qualifying
- Bahrain GP – Qualifying Result
- BAHRAIN GP – Bottas Takes A Debut Pole After Beating Mercedes Team-Mate Hamilton Fractionally
- BAHRAIN GP – Verstappen fastest in final practice by a tenth
- NOTEBOOK – Bahrain Practice
- BAHRAIN GP – Vettel tops second practice, but the gap to Mercedes are nip and tuck
- BAHRAIN GP – Vettel Fastest In First Practice By Four Tenths Over Ricciardo
- Jenson Button To Replace Fernando Alonso For Monaco
- PREVIEW – Bahrain Grand Prix