F1: Sebastian Vettel wins tense Bahrain Grand Prix for Ferrari

F1: Sebastian Vettel wins tense Bahrain Grand Prix for Ferrari

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel took a fine victory at the 2018 Bahrain Grand Prix, holding off a charge from Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas to ensure his lead at the head of the championship standings.

Sebastian Vettel, who started his 200th Grand Prix from pole position, clinched his 49th career win ahead of Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton.

The Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen were out early in the race, Kimi Raikkonen drove over and broke a Ferrari mechanic's leg in the pits and Hamilton overtook three cars in one corner.

Bottas's team mate and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton, who had started ninth after a five place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change, finished third.

Although the German won the season-opening Australian GP, he stated after the race that he lacked a "bit of confidence" in his SF71H.

Ferrari decided after the race that a mechanic should join Vettel on top of the podium.

"These tyres were done, done, in the last 10 laps", a jubilant Vettel told his team over the radio after he took the chequered flag.

At that point, Vettel thought Bottas would win the race, but he didn't let on over the pit-to-car radio.

His three wins last season all came after he had led from the start. Ferrari chose the soft tyres, Mercedes the mediums.

"My job is to go when the light changes".

Bottas was drafted into the pit lane at the end of Lap 20, releasing Hamilton into the lead, and moved onto a set of Medium tyres that would take him to the end of the race. The Ferrari driver pressed throttle before the pit crew could change all four tyres.

"But I think there was still enough space on the left".

At this stage, Mercedes looked set to go to the end, with Ferrari potentially needing to pit again.

The pitcrew member was tasked with fitting a new left rear tyre to Raikkonen's auto but, following a problem with the removal of the wheel already on it, he was still in position and had not moved when Raikkonen was released.

Ferrari later tweeted that the mechanic, Francesco, had suffered a shinbone and fibula fracture.

Raikkonen was on course for third place, ahead of Hamilton, but he had to stop the auto because it is not allowed to enter the track with two different types of tyre compound fitted. This came just days after Ferrari were handed a fine in free practice for another unsafe release.

Hamilton had his work cut out starting from ninth, and managed to achieve the podium finish he would have been hoping for. Marcus Ericsson who started down in 17th place finished 9th for Alfa Romeo Sauber ahead of Force India's Esteban Ocon.

The biggest shock of the race was the twin retirement of the Red Bull Racing drivers on the same lap (No 2).

Hamilton's grinning demeanour post-race at Yas Marina, given he had already wrapped up his fourth world title beforehand, hinted at the real answer, no matter what excuses he made about it being hard to pass.

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