Sebastian Vettel roared into the chequered flag signaling the end of the 13th Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir. The win gave Scudderia Ferrari an indomitable lead over Mercedes. The Ferrari win has ended the victory run that Mercedes enjoyed at the Bahrain circuit. Mercedes won every year since night racing began in 2014.
Placed third on the grid when the lights went green, he finished the 57 lap race in one hour and 33.53374 minutes. His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince and First Deputy Prime Minister, Deputy Supreme Commander of the Bahrain Defence Force and Chairman of the Bahrain Economic Development Board gave away the winning driver’s trophy to the Ferrari driver.
The Bahrain win, helped Vettel climb seven points to complete the leadership for Ferrari.
Much as the win gave Ferrari a moment of joy, the circuit itself created history of sorts with a record 33,000 crowd gathering to watch the match, according to Arif Rahimi, Chairman of the circuit.
His third place start on the grid helped the Ferrari driver take advantage of the errors that both Valteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes committed.
The Ferrari podium finish was charted and sealed by the deploying of the safety car when the Mercedes cars, which were ahead, were in the pitlane. Vettel had pitted early in the race and was piling pressure on Bottas, when an accident occurred. In addition, Vettel also had faster lap timings.
Hamilton, seemed well in position to lead, before he impeded Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo, getting into the pit lane. The move earned him a five-second penalty. He finished the race behind Vettel.
Valterri Bottas, fellow Mercedes driver, had the pole position as the lights went green. But he was the most unhappiest man, finishing a second runner-up, 20.397 seconds behind Vettel. The awards for the two were presented by Gulf Air CEO Maher Salman Al Musallam, Minister of Youth and Sports Affairs Hisham Al Jowder and Bahrain Motor Federation Vice-President Shaikh Salman bin Isa bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa.
The security car was deployed with Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz ramming into the side-pod of the William’s car driven by Lance Stroll, early into the race.
Although Bottas had a good start off the grid and continued to maintain it, his run was sealed with a generator problem, which resulted in wrong tyre pressures. Toto Wolff, the Mercedes team boss confessed to the generator breakdown.
Bottas made a clean getaway at the start and seemed to have his way, using the pole position to advantage. But the lack of poise of his teammate, Hamilton, was quite evident at the turn one. This gave the Ferrari the chance to fit into the second position.
The Mercedes driver called it a tricky race. He added that his pace was slowed in the absence of tools on the steering wheel and therefore was oversteering all through the race.
Vettel pitted earlier for a tyre change, forcing Hamilton to try and stretch the gap or take the alternative of a one-stop.
With fresh new rest in the nick, the Ferrari was a second faster over the Mercedes. After Hamilton pitted, he managed to close the gap with the Ferrari, but the attempt was a trifle too late. Bottas, who eventually finished third was told to make way for his teammate. Ferrari’s Kimi Rakkonen finished fourth finishing 22.475second from his teammate, He followed by Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo (+39.346s) in fifth and Williams’s Felipe Massa (+54.326s) in sixth.