Sebastian Vettel claimed his second win of the season for Ferrari, as the German started his 200th Grand Prix of his career at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Followed closely by the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, the latter having climbed from ninth on the grid.
Sebastian Vettel qualified in pole position as Ferrari locked out the front row, his teammate Kimi Raikkonen 0.143sec behind, while reigning world champion Hamilton was overshadowed by fellow Mercedes driver Bottas, the two of them setting 4th and 3rd fastest times respectively. Hamilton, however, incurred a five-place grid penalty as a result of an unscheduled gearbox change, leaving the Brit back in ninth place.
There was just a lone Red Bull, of Daniel Ricciardo, in the top ten, the Austrailian claiming 4th on the grid. Pierre Gasly put his Torro Rosso 5th with the Haas Ferrari of Kevin Magnussen 6th.Nico Hulkenberg [Renault] 7th, Esteban Ocon [Force India] 8th, and Carlos Sainz [Renault] rounding out the top ten.
A frantic opening lap saw Vettel lead from pole, as Bottas stole the march on Raikkonen in to turn one, the trio pulling away from the battles behind.
Max Verstappen [Red Bull] made a bold move on Hamilton in to turn one on lap two, but contact between the two of them saw the Dutchman suffer a puncture, and ultimately retire from the race, only to nurse his car past his stricken teammate Ricciardo, who appeared to simply lose all power.
A fantastic overtake by Hamilton, again in to turn one, saw the four-time World Champion claim places from Hulkenberg, Ocon, and Fernando Alonso [McLaren] all in the same move.
Vettel was briefly held up by Lewis, as the pack shuffled during pit-stops, Sebastian eventually passing Lewis, the Mercedes on older tyres. Raikkonen retired after a disastrous stop that saw one of his mechanics injured when he was released prematurely.
Bottas charged in the late stages putting pressure on Vettel with his quickly fading tyres, but it was the Ferrari man that would take victory, emulating fellow countryman Michael Schumacher, by winning his 200th Grand Prix. Hamilton brought the sister Mercedes home third.
Pierre Gasly claimed a fantastic fourth place for the Honda powered Torro Rosso, Kevin Magnussen 5th in the Haas Ferrari.
Sebastian Vettel explained the strategy change that left him on one set of ‘softs’ for such a long period of the race; “Obviously we came in first because we wanted to keep track position, then Mercedes had the luxury of choosing a strategy, I guess at that point there only hope to win the race was to do something different, which they did. We couldn’t really pull away on the soft, to open a massive gap, to then walk past on fresher tyres at the end. So yeah we had to think of something else.
“It was down to me to try and make it work. Ten laps to go, the tyres went, and started to really slide. It was difficult to be consistent and keep the car on the line. It was just enough, big
1. Sebastian Vettel GER Scuderia Ferrari 57 laps
2. Valtteri Bottas FIN Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport +0.699s
3. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport +6.512s
4. Pierre Gasly FRA Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda +1m 2.234s
5. Kevin Magnussen DEN Haas F1 Team +1m 15.046s.
6. Nico Hulkenberg GER Renault Sport Formula One Team +1m 39.024s
7. Fernando Alonso ESP McLaren F1 Team +1 lap
8. Stoffel Vandoorne BEL McLaren F1 Team +1 lap
9. Marcus Ericsson SWE Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team +1 lap
10. Esteban Ocon FRA Sahara Force India F1 Team +1 lap