Bahrain GP: Sebastian Vettel beats penalised Lewis Hamilton to victory

Bottas edges out Mercedes team-mate Hamilton in Bahrain for maiden pole

It robbed the fans of a grandstand finale to this particular race, Vettel ultimately keeping Hamilton at arms length with Bottas coming home third ahead of Finnish countryman Raikkonen.

Max Verstappen on track during Saturday's practice session.

"I tried to extend the first stint but I couldn't keep up with the pace".

For the third race in a row, Ferrari went aggressive with its strategy and pitted Vettel on lap 10 in an attempt to undercut Bottas in the lead.

In Bahrain, the Briton recognised he could have put himself in a much better position to win.

"We lost a lot of points, especially at the moment with the state the auto is, we should have taken a lot of points, and a bit unfortunate", the Dutchman said.

Two more retirements soon followed after a clash at Turn 1 between Lance Stroll and Carlos Sainz Jr, sparking a safety vehicle.

It was a steady start from Hamilton, but Vettel showed greater bravery on the brakes and passed his championship rival round the outside to move into second place.

"The pit lane (incident) was really my fault so apologies to the team for losing the time there ... but I gave it everything I could".

Hamilton backed off significantly on pit entry to avoid having to wait behind Bottas in the pits, but held up Ricciardo in the process.

Hamilton endured a far more rocky evening under the floodlights of the Sakhir Circuit as he battled his way to second spot.

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The first safety auto of the race came out when Lance Stroll's race ended.

It was a misdemeanor that cost him a five-second time penalty which he served during a second pit stop to change tires on lap 41 of the 57 race.

The stewards, however, agreed with the view of Red Bull's team principal Christian Horner, who described the tactic as "a bit naughty", and Hamilton was duly punished.

When the race began in earnest again on lap 17, Hamilton burst straight past Ricciardo into third while Vettel brilliantly defended the corner twice to fend off Bottas.

A lap later the Safety Car was out and the race order was shaken up as Lance Stroll and Carlos Sainz crashed as the Toro Rosso driver exited the pits.

Vettel was the first of the front-runners to pit, swapping supersofts for supersofts meaning a two-stop strategy, with Verstappen in shortly after. Verstappen followed Vettel's line and jumped Ricciardo and Raikkonen into fourth, with Massa also getting ahead of the Ferrari at Turn 4 and holding it up for the opening eight laps.

"It was just a pleasure, I could control the pace at the end".

"Supposed to have a five-second gap and I think I had a four-second gap". He had a 10.5s gap to teammate Bottas and a 19.7s gap to Vettel, but with his fresher tyres immediately set fastest laps and closed the gaps.

Vettel's win leaves him seven points clear of Hamilton at the top of the championship standings, with Bottas moving into third place, albeit 30 points off the lead. "We're three races down and we have always maintained that philosophy of [equal drivers]".

Upon restart, Bottas and Vettel went at it hard with the Ferrari barely managing to hold on to P1.

With eventual victor Sebastian Vettel surging clear, Bottas was asked to let Hamilton pass to give Mercedes the best chance of reeling in the Ferrari driver.

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