Vettel provides big boost to Ferrari

Paola Ditto
Aprile 20, 2017

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel forged seven points clear at the top of the Formula One standings on Sunday after winning a Bahrain Grand Prix thriller that saw Lewis Hamilton penalised for underhand tactics.

Hamilton had pitted behind Valtteri Bottas, who had started on pole but finished third, and because both Mercedes drivers came in under the safety auto at the same time the Briton had to wait while his team-mate took new tyres.

As Sunday's race was drawing to a close under floodlights, Hamilton was catching fast but ran out of time and finished nearly seven seconds behind. The three-time world champion discovered pace on fresher tyres during the latter stages and as a result Bottas was ordered to allow the Briton past so he could put pressure on Vettel. Hamilton, who won in China last weekend, crossed the finish line 6.6 seconds behind.

A safety vehicle, brought out following a crash involving Lance Stroll and Carlos Sainz, threatened to nullify Vettel's threat but Mercedes were forced to pit their two drivers at the same time.

"The vehicle was a dream today ... the last half of the in-lap with the fireworks & the track lit up, I just thought I love what I do", the German added. This forced Mercedes to pit their drivers at the same time, and after a rather slow pit stop from Bottas slowed both drivers' stops, Vettel claimed first in a rather easy fashion.

Ricciardo's Red Bull team-mate 19-year-old Max Verstappen crashed out of the action after a brakes failure. Despite pitting later to serve his penalty and switching to a fresh set of soft tyres, it only helped him get back his second place but not take the win. Those last 20 laps or so, really exchanging times.

"The pitlane was really my fault". But with the five-second penalty, that made it twice as hard than it was already going to be.

After claiming the first pole position of his career, Bottas said the fight for the championship was now a three-way battle, but the Finn will be desperately disappointed here after he finished a distant third.

After exiting the pits, Hamilton reduced a 19.0-second gap with Vettel to just 5.8 seconds by the 54th lap. The incidents were coming fast, with 18-year-old Lance Stroll hit from the side on lap 13 by Carlos Sainz Jr. - forcing the safety vehicle to come out.

"I got hit from the side", the Williams rookie exclaimed.

"Of course today and when I had the second before [in Australia], we had a strong good fight and I felt good on the podium, but then you think about certain things. But the early pit stop worked", said Vettel.

"Firstly, congratulations to Sebastian, he did a fantastic job today and also a big thank you to Valtteri for being a gentleman out there".

Hamilton's teammate Bottas finished third ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo. Nico Hulkenberg was ninth for Renault, while Esteban Ocon rounded out the points in P10 for the third race in a row.

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