Published: Tue, April 10, 2018
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Bahrain Grand Prix: Vettel fend off Bottas to take victory

Bahrain Grand Prix: Vettel fend off Bottas to take victory

Raikkonen, 38, was forced to withdraw from the race moments after and could only watch as team-mate Sebastian Vettel stormed to his second victory of the season.

The incident occurred during the Finn's second pitstop. Hamilton, out of position on the grid following an unscheduled gearbox change, failed to make any ground on the opening lap before losing a place to Fernando Alonso.

Verstappen suffered a rear-left puncture after making contact with Hamilton as he tried to pass the Briton, and limped back to the pits.

The racing continued to flow, with Hamilton in the thick of it. Kevin Magnussen finished 5th in the Haas ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in the Renault.

Magnussen was quickly passed for P5, which turned to P4 once Gasly was dealt with.

"I am 17 points down already after just two races". McLaren's Alonso is fourth in the standings with 16 points.

Vettel and Ferrari had been planning a two-stop strategy initially with the German switching onto the soft tyres when he pitted on lap 19.

Vettel, Bottas, Raikkonen and Hamilton ran line astern before a strategic chess game ensued. He re-emerged in P3 place with Hamilton inheriting the lead from his teammate.

Mercedes struggled to match Ferrari's pace in the heat at the Bahrain International circuit with the Scuderia locking out the front row of the grid.

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. When Bottas came within a second of Vettel, and Vettel made a mistake at Turn 1, it made the race very close indeed.

Making his second pitstop in the race, Raikkonen had come into the pits for the tyre change when there was a problem at the left rear tyre of the vehicle.

Mercedes' decision to go for the more durable medium tyres and a one-stop strategy, compared to Ferrari's move to bolt on softer rubber in anticipation of a two-stop race, brought the evening alive.

The man was taken to hospital and Ferrari later confirmed a broken leg - a shinbone and fibula fracture. Ferrari has been fined 50,000 euros by race officials for an unsafe release.

Between lap 49 and lap 54 Bottas closed the gap to Vettel from five seconds to one and on the final lap had the use of the DRS on the pit straight. It was Kimi Raikkonen who led the way through the practice sessions while Vettel upped his game when it mattered the most - in qualifying and in the race.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was relieved more than satisfied after seeing Bottas and Hamilton finish on the podium.

Honda enjoyed its best result since returning to the championship after rookie Pierre Gasly took fourth in just his seventh grand prix, and Marcus Ericsson claimed his first points finish since 2015. They pushed Ferrari onto a one-stopper with not the preferred combination of compounds and that set the race up.

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