Sebastian Vettel has taken his second win in three races in the 2017 season after Ferrari bettered Mercedes on strategy at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Valtteri Bottas, racing for Mercedes, started on pole position for the first time in his F1 career on Sunday at the Bahrain International Circuit and led the field into the first turn while Vettel passed Hamilton for second.
Bottas led a train of four cars behind him for the opening two laps until Lap 10, when Vettel finally decided to make his first scheduled stop.
Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen, also in the train, pitted one lap later on Lap 11 but crashed out due to a brake failure the next lap.
Verstappen wasn’t the only driver to retire from the race, as Stoffel Vandoorne failed to make the start with a power unit issue, Kevin Magnussen came to a stop on track due to a mechanical problem, and Carlos Sainz and Lance Stroll collided in Turn 1 bringing out a safety car. Marcus Ericsson and Fernando Alonso also broke down in the closing stages.
The safety car, which was deployed soon after Verstappen had retired, brought Bottas, Hamilton and Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo into the pits.
Knowing he would be held up in his box behind Bottas, Hamilton slowed down and held up Ricciardo entering the pits. This backfired against him in more ways than one.
First off, Bottas had a slow stop, so Hamilton found himself behind Vettel, Bottas and Riccicardo for the restart as he still had to wait for Bottas in the pits. Additionally, for holding up Ricciardo on pit entry, Hamilton was handed a five-second penalty.
On the restart, Ricciardo quickly dropped back through the field, moving Hamilton up to third. Hamilton then caught up with his Finnish teammate and Bottas was asked by Mercedes to let Hamilton by to try and catch Vettel. Bottas obeyed.
All of the top three drivers pitted one more time in the closing stages, with Hamilton’s penalty dropping him back to third behind Bottas.
With fresher tires in the closing laps of the race, Hamilton passed Bottas again and then started to run down Vettel but he fell just a few seconds short.
Unofficial race results:
1. Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari
2. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes
3. Valtteri Bottas – Mercedes
4. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari
5. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull
6. Felipe Massa – Williams
7. Sergio Perez – Force India
8. Romain Grosjean – Haas
9. Nico Hulkenberg – Renault
10. Esteban Ocon – Force India
11. Pascal Wehrlein – Sauber
12. Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso
13. Jolyon Palmer – Renault
14. Fernando Alonso – McLaren (DNF)
15. Marcus Ericsson – Sauber (DNF)
16. Carlos Sainz – Toro Rosso (DNF)
17. Lance Stroll – Williams (DNF)
18. Max Verstappen – Red Bull (DNF)
19. Kevin Magnussen – Haas (DNF)
20. Stoffel Vandoorne – McLaren (DNS)