Sebastian Vettel leaves the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir with a seven point lead in the 2017 world championship after a hard fought win in the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. The German withstood a late charge from Lewis Hamilton to take the win by just over six seconds. Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas completed the podium.

Sebastian Vettel won his second race of the 2017 season in Bahrain

Sebastian Vettel won his second race of the 2017 season in Bahrain
Image courtesy Ferrari Media

Kimi Raikkonen brought his Ferrari home in fourth with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo in fifth. Felipe Massa (Willaims) ended the day in sixth ahead of Sergio Perez (Force India) and Romain Grosjean (Haas). Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) and Esteban Ocon (Force India) rounded out the top ten.

Polesitter Bottas took full advantage of his grid position to grab the early lead while Vettel grabbed second from Hamilton at the first corner. They were joined by the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Ricciardo. Vettel was the first to stop, gambling that the undercut would pay off when he came in to change tyres after just ten laps. Verstappen followed a lap later but things went wrong for the Dutchman in turn 4 when suspected brake failure saw him crash out.

A lap later Carlos Sainz (Torro Rosso) and Lance Stroll (Williams) came together in turn 1 after Sainz had rejoined the track after a pit stop. Sainz was subsequently handed a three-place grid penalty for the next race in Canada for his misdemeanour. With both cars in dangerous positions and a lot of debris on the track, the safety car was deployed which saw almost all of the drivers who hadn’t already stopped diving into the pits.

Hamilton, who had to stack behind Bottas while the Mercedes mechanics serviced the Finn’s car, was adjudged to have hindered Ricciardo by entering the pits slower than was necessary and was handed a five second penalty. Once the safety car came in and racing resumed it was Vettel who led the way from Bottas, Ricciardo and Hamilton. It didn’t take long for Hamilton to pass the Aussie and set off after his teammate. Bottas moved over to let the clearly quicker Hamilton through just after half distance and the Brit took the lead for the first time in the race when Vettel pitted to fit another set of soft tyres.

Hamilton remained in front until he made his second pit stop, serving his five-second penalty at the same time. Vettel re-took the lead with Hamilton dropping back down the field, however, it did not take him long to be back behind the Ferrari and a series of blisteringly fast laps saw him cut the deficit from over 19 seconds to less than six. With just a couple of laps to go he realized that there was not enough time left to catch and pass Vettel and eased off slightly to end the race 6.6 seconds adrift. Bottas ended just two seconds clear of a fast finishing Raikkonen while Ricciardo ended in a somewhat lonely fifth place.