Vettel holds off late Hamilton charge to win Bahrain GP

Rufina Vignone
Aprile 21, 2017

Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne said he and his team now feel "completely confident" of mounting a championship challenge following Sebastian Vettel's victory in Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix.

Hamilton's chief rival Sebastian Vettel is now the sole leader of a championship which has all the ingredients of becoming a classic after claiming his second win from the opening three rounds.

Hamilton had pitted behind Valtteri Bottas, who had started on pole but finished third, and because both Mercedes drivers came in under the safety auto at the same time the Briton had to wait while his team-mate took new tyres.

The three-time world champion took his penalty at his second stop with 15 laps remaining and rejoined in third, 18 seconds behind Vettel.

By the halfway point, Vettel's lead was six seconds over Hamilton, who had just passed Bottas.

"I didn't know if I could catch up Vettel but the penalty made it twice as hard".

Hamilton was handed a five-second penalty for a pit lane infringement which ultimately cost him dearly.

And the 32-year-old has called on his Mercedes team to bounce back for the Sochi race, well aware that Vettel will be ready to pounce should the sport's reigning champions put a foot wrong.

"I think there would have been a possibility", he said.

"The factory has come alive - hopefully the success in the last few races helps us". "Losing points for the team is definitely painful". Kimi Raikkonen took fourth for Ferrari after a poor start ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who was in the mix at the start but lost ground when he switched to soft tyres for the second stint.

Vettel admitted after qualifying that the gap to the Mercedes drivers left him feeling "down" as he was happy with his auto, and after taking victory he suspects the good handling of his vehicle played a part in his strong race performance.

"The tire felt great so I believe it was the right choice".

Red Bull's Max Verstappen had already crashed out by then, blaming brake failure after he trekked across the gravel into the tire barrier on lap 12.

The safety vehicle appeared on track after 18-year-old Canadian newcomer Lance Stroll, suffering his third retirement in three races, turned into Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz as the Spaniard left the pits.

Hamilton accepted it was his mistake although he appeared confused as to why he had been penalised.

Both Mercedes drivers used the safety vehicle incident to pit for new tires, but Hamilton held up Ricciardo.

Valtteri Bottas says he understands why Mercedes ordered him to let teammate Lewis Hamilton pass at the Bahrain Grand Prix, but admits he did not like doing it.

McLaren endured another miserable race weekend with Stoffel Vandoorne unable to start the race due to engine problems and Fernando Alonso making his annoyance clear over team radio at his car's lack of oomph.

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