BIC, Sakhir: After splitting the first two races of the season with Mercedes’s Lewis Hamilton, Vettel was eager to strike back and it was the star pair once again battling in the end for all the glory. This time it was the scarlet red of Ferrari taking the chequered flag as a brilliant series of fireworks lit up the night sky above Sakhir.
His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister presented Vettel the winning driver’s trophy.
Gulf Air CEO Maher Salman Al Musallam also handed over trophies, as did Minister of Youth and Sports Affairs Hisham Al Jowder and Bahrain Motor Federation Vice-President Shaikh Salman bin Isa bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa.
Vettel’s win ended the recent run of success for Mercedes in the Kingdom, as they had won every year since the event was switched to a night race. But Vettel had other plans and he claimed his third triumph in Bahrain after previously winning twice with his former team Red Bull Racing, while also securing the 44th triumph of his career.
The German gained the lead from pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas during a safety car period early on in the race. At the re-start, he managed to stave off his rival and eventually built a comfortable advantage of over 10 seconds from the rest of the pack.
But Vettel was made to sweat a bit over the final 10 laps as a charging Lewis Hamilton was closing in from behind. It was too much of a task, however, as Vettel had built a big enough lead to cruise to the chequered flag.
Vettel crossed the finish line with a winning time of one hour 33 minutes 53.374 seconds. Hamilton, who had been given a five-second time penalty for impeding Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo in the pit lane, had cut the gap to 6.660 seconds by the end. Bottas had to settle for the final podium place 20.397s back in third.
“The car was really amazing to drive and I had a good feeling yesterday,” said Vettel during his post-race interview on the podium.
“For many laps it really worked well. It was just a pleasure. Lewis was threatening towards the end, and with the traffic you never know. But it was a very controlled race, and the car was simply a dream today.”
Ferrari’s Kimi Rakkonen finished fourth 22.475s from his teammate. He was followed by Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo (+39.346s) in fifth and Williams’s Felipe Massa (+54.326s) in sixth. Force India’s Sergio Perez (+62.606s) was seventh and Haas’s Romain Grosjean (+74.865s) rounded out the top eight. Nico Hulkenberg of Renault and Perez’s teammate Esteban Ocon were the last two to claim points.
Classified 11th to 14th were Pascal Wehrlein of Sauber, Daniil Kvyat of Toro Rosso, Jolyon Palmer of Renault and Fernando Alonso of McLaren.
Not classified were Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson, Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz, Williams’s Lance Stroll, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, Haas’s Kevin Magnussen and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne.
The Bahrain Grand Prix was the third round of the 2017 FIA Formula 1 World Championship. Racing resumes on April 30 with the Russian Grand Prix.