2017 BAHRAIN GP: FERRARI WINS AHEAD OF MERCEDES AMG

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel took his second victory of the season in Bahrain as Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton recovered from a poor start and a penalty to finish in second place ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

At the race start, pole sitter Bottas led through Turn One. Hamilton, though, lost out and was passed by Vettel as the field streamed through the first corner. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen made an excellent start to rise from sixth on the grid to fourth by the end of lap one, the Dutchman profiting from Hamilton’s poor start and the fact that the Briton backed up Daniel Ricciardo as they went into the first corner, with the result that the Australian was demoted to fifth ahead of Williams’ Felipe Massa. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, meanwhile, dropped to seventh from fifth on the grid.

Over the opening laps, Bottas was unable to carve out a significant lead and by the time the drivers were starting their 10th lap just three seconds separated the top five drivers. With a Vettel was the first to take a strategic gamble, pitting on lap 10 to take on more supersofts. Verstappen noted it and request similar action but when he emerged from his first stop he almost immediately arrowed off track and into the barriers, reporting brake failure.

Moments later Vettel’s early stop reaped dividends when the Safety Car was called into action when Carlos Sainz and Lance Stroll collided in Turn One, with the Williams’ driver’s car stranded on track. Bottas pitted and Vettel inherited the lead. Hamilton was brought into the pits at the same time as his team-mate and as he approached the pit entry the Briton slowed dramatically to minimise waiting time in the stacked stop. The result was that Ricciardo, also on his way to pit lane, was held up badly. The incident eventually led to a five-second penalty for Hamilton, who was punished for driving unnecessarily slowly in the pit lane.

When they emerged, supersoft-shod Vettel led from the similarly equipped Bottas, while Ricciardo and Hamilton, both now on softs, were in third and fourth respectively.

When the safety car left the track, Ricciardo’s tyres appeared to be far from the right operating window and he was rapidly passed by Hamilton, Massa and Raikkonen. At the front, Vettel began to eke out a gap to Bottas and by lap 26 the German had 4.8s in hand over Bottas and a second more over Hamilton.

On lap 27, though, Hamilton surged past Bottas to claim P2. Soon after, Ricciardo was also the move. Raikkonen had passed Massa and on lap 29 the Brazilian was passed by the Red Bull driver, under DRS and under braking through Turn One. On lap 30 Bottas pitted for the final time, taking on soft tyres. Ahead Hamilton was catching Vettel, whose supersoft tyres, by lap 32, were beginning to look spent.

With the gap to Hamilton shrinking Ferrari opted to pit the German on lap 33. Vettel took on a set of softs for his final stint and rejoined in P3 behind Raikkonen. He was soon past his team-mate, however, and then he began to chase down Hamilton, lapping a second quicker than the Briton as he ate into the 15.7s deficit. By lap 39 the gap was down to 12.1s and closing. Behind them, Bottas was now third ahead of Ricciardo who had inherited fourth when Raikkonen made his final stop for soft tyres. The Australian then made his final stop, for supersofts on lap 39 and prepared for a late-race blast from fifth place.

Hamilton made his final stop on lap 41, serving his five-second penalty and taking on soft tyres. He dropped to third, 9.4s behind Bottas and 19s behind Vettel who was now looking comfortable in pursuit of his second win of the season. The race looked like it might open up again in the final stages after Hamilton passed Bottas and then began to scythe through a 13-second gap to Vettel, but the German held his nerve and applied the pace necessary to keep Hamilton at bay to take the 44th win of his career.

With Hamilton second and Bottas third, fourth place went to Raikkonen who finished 16.8s ahead of Ricciardo. Massa was sixth for Williams, while Force India’s Sergio Perez enjoyed a great evening’s work to rise from P18 on the grid to seventh place at the flag. Romain Grosjean was eighth for Haas and the final points placings went to Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Ocon in the second Force India.

2017 Bahrain Grand Prix, Sakhir.
57 laps, 308.238km., Weather: Dry/Night race.
CLASSIFICATION:
 P.    DRIVER           TEAM         TIME/GAP 
 1. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari       1h33:53.374
 2. Lewis Hamilton   Mercedes AMG   +    6.670
 3. Valtteri Bottas  Mercedes AMG   +   20.397
 4. Kimi Raikkonen   Ferrari        +   22.475
 5. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull       +   39.346
 6. Felipe Massa     Williams       +   54.326
 7. Sergio Perez     Force India    + 1:02.606
 8. Romain Grosjean  Haas           + 1:14.865
 9. Nico Hulkenberg  Renault        + 1:20.188
10. Esteban Ocon     Force India    + 1:35.711
11. Pascal Wehrlein  Sauber         +    1 Lap
12. Daniil Kvyat     Toro Rosso     +    1 Lap
13. Jolyon Palmer    Renault        +    1 Lap

Fastest Lap: Lewis Hamilton - 1:32.798        

NOT CLASSIFIED:
Driver              Team                      
Fernando Alonso    McLaren
Marcus Ericsson    Sauber
Carlos Sainz jr.   Toro Rosso
Lance Stroll       Williams
Max Verstappen     Red Bull
Kevin Magnussen    Haas
Stoffel Vandoorne  McLaren

 AFTER 3 RACES:
 DRIVERS:                  CONSTRUCTORS:      
 1. Sebastian Vettel  68   Ferrari      102
 2. Lewis Hamilton    61   Mercedes AMG  99
 3. Valtteri Bottas   38   Red Bull      47
 4. Kimi Raikkonen    34   Force India   17
 5. Max Verstappen    25   Williams      16
 6. Daniel Ricciardo  22   Toro Rosso    12
 7. Felipe Massa      16   Haas           8
 8. Sergio Perez      14   Renault        2
 9. Carlos Sainz jr.  10
10. Romain Grosjean    4
11. Kevin Magnussen    4
12. Esteban Ocon       3
13. Nico Hulkenberg    2
12. Daniil Kvyat       2


Sebastian Vettel...
Valtteri Bottas...

Max Verstappen...