Vettel hangs onto Bahrain GP win

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel wins a very tense and breathless Bahrain Grand Prix ahead of the Mercedes duo of Valterri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton as both Red Bulls retire from the race.

08/04/18

Grid Formation

1.Vettel  2.Raikkonen  3.Bottas  4.Ricciardo  5.Gasly  6.Magnussen  7.Hulkenberg  8.Ocon  9.Hamilton*  10.Sainz  11.Hartley  12.Perez  13.Alonso  14.Vandoorne  15.Verstappen  16.Grosjean  17.Ericsson  18.Sirotkin  19.Leclerc  20.Stroll

Hamilton* was given a 5 place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

Race

The lights go out and it’s a good start for Sebastian Vettel who leads down into turn 1. It’s a poorer start for team-mate Kimi Raikkonen who is overtaken off the line by Valterri Bottas. Behind, Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg bang tyres with Magnussen going off the track and rejoining behind. Down into turn 4, Daniel Ricciardo re-overtakes Pierre Gasly for 4th as Magnussen gets back ahead of Hulkenberg. There is a car spinning around further behind and it looks like a Force India.

Lap 2, Max Verstappen, who started 15th, is now challenging Lewis Hamilton for 10th position. Verstappen goes down the inside of Hamilton into turn 1 with the Red Bull driver running Hamilton wide. Contact is made and Verstappen has got a left-rear puncture! There’s more despair for Red Bull as Ricciardo has pulled over at turn 8 and is out. The Virtual Safety Car is now active with Verstappen limping back to the pits. Verstappen get back to the pits and rejoins on the Supersoft tyre.

The replay shows that it was Brendon Hartley that tagged the Force India of Sergio Perez into a spin at turn 4 on the opening lap. The VSC ends on lap 4 and racing resumes and by lap 5 with Hamilton now on the prowl. The Brit overtakes Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon and Nico Hulkenberg down into turn 1. It’s a brave and awesome overtake for the Mercedes driver who now finds himself in 6th place.

The misery continues for Red Bull as Verstappen pulls over and retires from the race. Hamilton now overtakes Magnussen down into turn 1 for 5th place. Lap 8, Hamilton overtakes Gasly for 4th down into turn 1 but the Brit is now 9 seconds behind the lead. The Stewards have awarded a 10 second time penalty for Hartley after his coming together with Perez. Lap 11, Lance Stroll pits for a new front wing and new set of tyres.

Lap 11, Magnussen pits from 6th and onto the Supersoft tyre. Reacting to the Haas pit-stop, Alonso pits and rejoins on the Medium tyre on the following lap. Gasly and Hulkenberg pit with both rejoining on the Soft tyre. Gasly is still ahead of Magnussen, Hulkenberg and Alonso in their tight scrap. Lap 18, Vettel pits from the lead and rejoins on the Soft tyre. Lap 19, Raikkonen pits from 2nd, rejoining on the Soft tyre and behind Vettel. Lap 20, Bottas pits, rejoining on the Medium tyre and rejoins behind Vettel and ahead of Raikkonen.

As Hamilton qualified on the Soft tyre in Q2, he now leads without having made his first pit-stop. Vettel follows behind with Bottas and Raikkonen completing the top 4. Lap 25, Vettel is now within DRS range of Hamilton and by lap 26, Vettel is down the inside of Hamilton of turn 1. A crucial overtake for the Ferrari driver as he needs to build a gap to Bottas. Hamilton pits at the end of lap 26 and rejoins on the Medium tyre behind Raikkonen in 4th. Vettel leads ahead of Bottas, Raikkonen and Hamilton.

Lap 28, Magnussen pits from 6th. The Dane was on the Supersoft tyre and now rejoins on the Soft tyre in 12th. After being held up by team-mate Romain Grosjean, Magnussen overtakes Ocon for 8th on lap 32 down into turn 1. Lap 35, Vettel is now encountering traffic with the gap to Bottas just over 4 seconds. Gasly pits from 5th and rejoining  in 7th. Lap 36, Raikkonen pits from 3rd and there’s a mistake.

Raikkonen pulls up in the pit-lane and gets out of the car as there seems to be a couple of mechanics injured after the Finn was released. Raikkonen is furious and upset. The Ferrari is brought back up to the garage with medics treating a mechanic in the pit-box. There was a problem with the left-rear tyre, not getting the Soft tyre off and putting the new Supersoft tyre on, Raikkonen was released too early.

Lap 39, Ferrari tell Vettel to go to “Plan D” and tell him that Raikkonen is out. Hulkenberg and Alonso pit, rejoining in 7th and 8th with both on the Supersoft tyre. Lap 45, Mercedes try to tell Hamilton, now in 3rd, that Vettel may be going to the end of the race on these tyres and ask him to aim for a lap time for around a low 1m34s.

Lap 51, with no traffic in between, Bottas has gotten the gap down to 3.8 seconds with Vettel’s Soft tyres now “going off the cliff.” End of lap 53, the gap between Vettel and Bottas is just 1.7 seconds meanwhile Hamilton is encountering more traffic and 12 seconds behind the top two. Lap 56, Bottas has DRS on Vettel but is unable to make a pass at turn 1. The gap now – half a second. Onto the final lap, Bottas makes a pop at Vettel down into turn 1 but Vettel keeps ahead. Vettel comes out of the final corner to win – just ahead of Bottas with Hamilton 5 seconds behind in 3rd. Phew, that was close!

Race Result

  1. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 57 Laps (49th GP win on his 200th GP start)
  2. Valterri Bottas, Mercedes, +0.699s (DHL Fastest Lap Award)
  3. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, +6.512s (27th consecutive points finish)
  4. Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso, +62.234s (Fans Driver of the Day)
  5. Kevin Magnussen, Haas, +75.046s
  6. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, +99.024s
  7. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, + 1 Lap
  8. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, + 1 Lap
  9. Marcus Ericsson. Sauber, + 1 Lap (First F1 points in 50 races)
  10. Esteban Ocon, Force India,  + 1 Lap
  11. Carlos Sainz, Renault, + 1 Lap
  12. Charles Leclerc, Sauber + 1 Lap
  13. Romain Grosjean, Haas, + 1 Lap
  14. Lance Stroll, Williams, + 1 Lap
  15. Sergey Sirotkin, Williams, + 1 Lap
  16. Sergio Perez, Force India, + 1 Lap
  17. Brendon Hartley, Toro Rosso, + 1 Lap
  • Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, DNF
  • Max Verstappen, Red Bull, DNF
  • Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, DNF

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