Vettel holds off charging Bottas in Bahrain

Vettel holds off charging Bottas in Bahrain

Hamilton took third place but the path to the podium finish was not straightforward as he and Red Bull-Tag Heuer's (Renault) Max Verstappen battled side by side and banged wheels after the start of the race that resulted in Verstappen (who started the race from 15th on the gird) puncturing his left-rear tyre and eventually retiring from the race.

The racing continued to flow, with Hamilton in the thick of it. "The auto has been excellent all weekend so far, so I am looking forward to the race".

The pit window came into play by lap 16 and Gasly managed to hold on to his P5 ahead of Magnussen, Hulkenberg and Alonso. "These tyres were done - they were done for the last 10 laps".

Vettel started on pole ahead of Raikkonen. He re-emerged in P3 place with Hamilton inheriting the lead from his teammate.

In one thrilling maneuver during the race Hamilton overtook three drivers in one go.

Unaffected, Vettel pushed to make the most of an emergency one-stop strategy, resisting Bottas all the way to the flag.

As the mechanic - later confirmed to have suffered a shinbone and fibula fracture - was tended to, Raikkonen was instructed to stop the auto just metres from his pit box, after what was his second unsafe release of the weekend, following on from the one in practice. "My job is to go when the light is green". The team said the mechanic, named only as Francesco, had sustained a shinbone and fibula fracture.

Ferrari have been fined 50,000 euros (£43,000) by race officials for an unsafe release.

Bottas had closed five seconds in five laps and was right on Vettel's tail as they entered the final lap - but a half-hearted move into the first corner was not enough and Vettel was able to hang on.

Vettel put his fresh tyres to good use, allowing him to quickly close up on the back of Hamilton for the lead before making his move into Turn 1 on Lap 26, albeit with Bottas now just five seconds behind.

Sebastian Vettel scored his 49th career victory.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was relieved more than satisfied after seeing Bottas and Hamilton finish on the podium. It was Magnussen who would have to taste defeat, with Gasly retaining fourth position, and showing early signs of a very strong race. Marcus Ericsson took ninth place for Sauber, while Esteban Ocon took tenth place for Force India. Ferrari brought Raikkonen in one lap later, also for Softs, leaving the Silver Arrows first and second.

"That was a lie".

"He knew that was his place to defend and I was maybe going to try something there so... gutted".

New Zealand driver Brendon Hartley crossed the line in 13th for Toro Rosso, equalling his best finish in his six-race Formula One starts so far. "I nursed the tires and it worked, but only just".

Bottas used his longer-lasting compound to effect by closing down Vettel during the closing stages and began the final lap within a second of his rival, though was unable to produce an overtaking chance, and came home as runner-up.

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