F1 Bahrain vettel carried the day
How it all played out!
Vettel hung on ahead of the charging Mercedes on the final lap to take his second win in two races this season and one of the best of his illustrious career.
In a dramatic, strategic and unpredictable race, a Ferrari mechanic was injured when he was run over by Vettel’s team-mate Kimi Raikkonen at a pit stop.
Lewis Hamilton recovered to third place after starting ninth, including one stunning moment when he passed three cars in effectively one move early in the race.
Vettel now has a 17-point lead over Hamilton after two of 21 races this season.
Vettel’s amazing save
Vettel whooped in delight after crossing the line, his glee at winning a race he arguably should have lost clear.
“These tyres were done, done, in the last 10 laps,” Vettel told his team over the radio.
Bottas had closed five seconds in five laps and was right on Vettel’s tail as they entered the final lap – but a half-hearted move into the first corner was not enough and Vettel was able to hang on.
The German looked in total control of the race in the opening laps as he led away from pole position, after Bottas passed Raikkonen into the first corner.
But Mercedes employed clever thinking to force Ferrari into an agonising choice between hanging on with fading, fragile tyres or sacrificing the lead for a stop for fresher rubber and attacking.
Mercedes appeared to be readying to pit Bottas, but changed their minds when Vettel made his pit stop ahead of them on lap 18, with 39 to go, the Ferrari fitting soft tyres.
Ferrari mechanic in hospital
Ferrari’s decision-making was hardly made easier by a nasty incident at Raikkonen’s second pit stop.
The Finn was given the green light to leave the pits before the left rear wheel had even been removed and his rear wheel smashed into the leg of the mechanic in front of it waiting to remove it.
The man was taken to hospital and Ferrari later confirmed a broken leg – a shinbone and fibula fracture.
Raikkonen was on course for third place, ahead of Hamilton, but he had to stop the car because it is not allowed to enter the track with two different types of tyre compound fitted.
Ferrari have been fined 50,000 euros by race officials for an unsafe release.
The team, and Raikkonen, had suffered a similar unsafe release from the pits during second practice on Friday, for which they were fined 5,000 euros.
Hamilton’s amazing overtake
Hamilton had his work cut out starting from ninth, and managed to achieve the podium finish he would have been hoping for.
He made a great start and speared between the Force India of Esteban Ocon and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg in front of him, but chose to back off and play safe before the first corner and finished the first lap ninth.
A virtual safety car period to recover the retired Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo paused the race, and after the re-start Hamilton swept past Fernando Alonso’s McLaren on the pit straight before – seemingly with the braking zone fast approaching – deciding to dive past both Ocon and Hulkenberg into the first corner.
Running sixth by lap five, Hamilton then passed Kevin Magnussen’s Haas a lap later, then Gasly, and moved into fourth by lap eight.
“It is not an easy manoeuvre to pull off – it was quite risky,” said the Briton. “I tried to be cautious. I had a lot of people ahead and a long race. I was trying to take it easy, but lost a lot of ground at the start and was trying to come back.”
Its china next, so stay tuned!