Bahrain Grand Prix – Sebastian Vettel has taken his second consecutive win for Ferrari by claiming victory at Sakhir.
The championship leader started from pole position, holding the lead into the first corner as teammate Kimi Raikkonen lost out to Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas. Pulling away slightly through the first stint of the race, he pitted on Lap 18 to swap his used SuperSofts for a fresh set of Softs, with the obvious intention of a two stop strategy.
When Valtteri Bottas pitted, he took on the Medium tyre, indicating that both he and Lewis Hamilton were intending to make a single stop. This appeared to hand the initiative to Mercedes as the pace of the Medium tyre looked the match of Vettel’s Soft tyres and with the bonus of longevity as Vettel needed to get through 40 laps on the Soft tyre – a seemingly impossible task as Pirelli claimed the compound was only good for 30 laps.
However, Vettel managed to eke out his pace to only lose significant time in the closing ten laps as Vettel appeared to run out of grip. Vettel’s lead shrunk with every corner, and he was within DRS striking distance with two laps to go. Bottas had a look up the inside of the Ferrari into Turn 1 on the final lap but Vettel managed to just get across the finishing line 0.6 seconds ahead of Bottas. Lewis Hamilton finished just 6 seconds behind Bottas, having run a long stint on the Mediums just like his teammate, but an excellent recovery from his gearbox penalty after qualifying.
Pierre Gasly finished P4 for Toro Rosso Honda, with Kevin Magnussen P5 for Haas and making up some of the disappointment of the team’s double retirement in Australia. Nico Hulkenberg finished P6 for Renault, with the McLarens finishing P7 & P8 with Alonso ahead of Vandoorne. Marcus Ericsson claimed P9 for Sauber’s first points of the year, with Esteban Ocon P10 for Force India.
Both Red Bull drivers retired, with Daniel Ricciardo’s car switching itself off with technical trouble on Lap 3. Max Verstappen suffered a puncture while overtaking Lewis Hamilton on Lap 2 and, while he managed to pit for a fresh tyre, the damage was too much and he was forced to retire.