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Published: Mon, April 17, 2017
Medical | By Garry George

Formula One: Sebastian Vettel wins Bahrain Grand Prix ahead of Hamilton

Formula One: Sebastian Vettel wins Bahrain Grand Prix ahead of Hamilton

"Happy for all you guys at merc that Valtteri is going well", tweeted Nico Rosberg, whose decision to retire after winning the 2016 world title led Bottas to Mercedes this season.

Vettel now has 68 points to Hamilton's 61. On the restart, Vettel pulled away after initially defending from Bottas and then both the Finn and Ricciardo struggled, with Hamilton one of three cars - also including Raikkonen and Massa - to pass the Red Bull. Raikkonen's move was particularly impressive as he went around the outside of Turn 13 at high speed.

The renewed optimism is in contrast to previous year, when Ferrari did not even win a race and where Vettel drew more attention for his frustrated outbursts during actual races rather than his driving.

Valtteri Bottas's pole in qualifying yesterday in Bahrain does not represent a huge change to this culture, particularly as Mercedes still appear to have the fastest auto, but at a time when everybody is all too keen to latch onto the next F1 fight to the death - Hamilton v Vettel, it is a timely reminder that F1 is not binary: not just about two teams in a tunnel, two men slugging it out a ring, with little regard given to the undercard.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen had already crashed out by then, blaming brake failure after he trekked across the gravel into the tire barrier on lap 12. Bottas moved out of the way at Turn 14 with 10 laps remaining to allow his teammate to chase the win, but despite Hamilton closing a gap of almost 20 seconds after his stop to just five at one stage, Vettel managed the gap to secure the win.

Ferrari eventually made the call for Vettel on Lap 33, timing the stop perfectly so he emerged from the pits ahead of Ricciardo and with only teammate Raikkonen ahead on-track in the gap to Hamilton.

As news filtered through that Hamilton was given a five-second time penalty for holding up Daniel Ricciardo on pit-lane entry, Renault rather mischievously offered a helping hand to their rivals.

Sebastian Vettel clinched a third win at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sunday's race.

Hamilton's Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas was third, after starting on pole position for the first time in his career. "It was a team effort", said Vettel.

"The pit lane situation was really my fault, so apologies to the team for losing time there", said Hamilton.

"But for now the team has done a really, really great job", Vettel said.

It was a valiant effort by Hamilton after his error in the pit lane, but ultimately Ferrari had the pace to beat Mercedes and the mistakes made under the safety auto proved costly for the world champions.

Ultimately, Vettel crossed the line six seconds clear of Hamilton but the Mercedes appeared to hold a strong pace advantage over the Ferrari in the final segment of the race.

The delay for Bottas ensured Vettel led behind the Safety Car, but the leading pair were on supersoft tires compared to softs for Ricciardo and Hamilton behind. He came in on lap 41, served his five-second penalty, and came out P3, 10s behind Bottas. This is Vettel's second win in three races in the 2017 season. "I was oversteering all through the race".

"You've got the pace to win this", said Hamilton's race engineer Pete Bonnington.

Meanwhile, Alonso retired one lap from the end.

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