Vettel Wins in Bahrain; Takes Championship Lead
SAKIR, Bahrain—Taking advantage of a Lewis Hamilton pit stop on lap 42, Sebastian Vettel held off a late charge by the Briton to win his 44th career victory Sunday night at the Grand Prix of Bahrain at the Bahrain International Circuit by 6.6 seconds. Valterri Bottas was third.
For Vettel, it is his second victory in three races this season, and now leads the world championship by seven points over Hamilton. In the constructors’ championship, Ferrari has a slim three point advantage over Mercedes.
“Really great day.” Replied a stunned Vettel. “I don’t know what to say. I didn’t find any words, and it was a great team effort today. Right after the start, I could really feel that I felt that we were quick. We went for the unusual pit stop and it was lucky because it was a good plan and nobody else could benefit from it. I was a bit surprised when I came out, because I thought we had lost the advantage. After that, the car was good and I had a good feeling yesterday, and after many laps, it really worked well today. It was a pleasure, and I could control the race.”
The lead switched between both Vettel and Hamilton for most of the race, with Vettel receiving a huge advantage when Lance Stroll was struck by Carlos Sainz Jr. going into turn one on lap 13, bringing out the safety car for a few laps.. Vettel, at the time had just pitted, suddenlyfound himself in first place. But Hamilton regained the lead on lap 34, but was penalized in his first stop for slowing Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo in the pit lane, which Hamilton served in his final regular schedueled stop on lap 42.
But Hamilton found himself returning to the track 19 seconds behind Vettel in second place, and with a clear track ahead of him, managed to cut the deficit down to just under seven seconds. But slower cars were ahead of both drivers and Vettel took advantage of this, to win his second race of the season.
But Vettel knows that there are plenty of race remaining in the season.
“It is a long year, but we are looking at it.” He said. “Really enjoying the car, and it was a good lap yesterday. But I thought that it would be a bit closer. But something inside me told me that we have a good car, and we can do well. Right from the first lap, I could feel that the car was there. And it is great that everything is coming together.”
GRAND PRIX OF BAHRAIN
At the Bahrain International Circuit, Sakir, Bahrain
Final Race Results
1 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari
2 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) AMG Mercedes +6.6 seconds behind
3 Valterri Bottas (FIN) AMG Mercedes
4 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari
5 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing
6 Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams Martini Racing
7 Sergio Perez (MEX) Force India
8 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team
9 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault
10 Esteban Ocon (FRA) Force India
11 Pascal Wehrlein (GER) Sauber
12 Dani Kvyat (RUS) Toro Rosso
13 Jolyon Palmer (GBR) Renault
14 Fernando Alonso (SPA) McLaren-Honda
15 Markus Ericsson (SWE) Sauber—gearbox- lap 52
16 Carlos Sainz Jr. (SPA) Toro Rosso- accident- lap 14
17 Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams Martini Racing- Accident- lap 14
18 Max Verstappen (NED) Red Bull Racing- brake failure- lap 13
19 Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas F1 Team- power unit failure- lap 10
20 Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) McLaren-Honda - Did not start
A 16 year veteran of writing formula one racing weekend race reports, features and team launches, Mark has worked for such companies as all-sports, e-sports, The Munich Eye newspaper in Germany, racingnation.com and Autoweek. A former member for this site four years ago, Mark now is a contributor for R.I.S.