Sebastian Vettel hangs tough to win the Bahrain Grand Prix
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News April 8, 2018 Updated: 1:03 PM PT
SAKHIR, Bahrain — Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel took his 49th career win after holding off a charging Valtteri Bottas in the closing stages of Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
Vettel grabbed his fourth Bahrain Grand Prix victory as he reached his 200th grand prix milestone this weekend. Bottas finished second after chasing down Vettel in the closing laps of the race. It looked like a simple enough task being Vettel’s tires were 37 laps old and well beyond the end of their life. However, that would not be the case as Vettel was able to nurse them to the end and keep Bottas at bay to extend his to lead by 17pts in the driver’s championship.
Happy with the victory but not getting too ahead of himself about the championship Vettel said,”It took a while for the adrenaline to go, but for the next week we are not sure where we are going to be. It is difficult to predict with everything changing so much. In China it will be a different track and a different challenge, but we have to improve our car and work on it.”
Vettel’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen was running second, but his race came to an end during his pitstop on lap 36 when the mechanic changing his left rear tire was injured. Raikkonen was told immediately to stop the car by the team, and the man was later taken the hospital.
After the incident Raikkonen said, “What happened to our guy Francesco today at the pit-stop is very unfortunate. I feel sorry for him and hope he’s going to be OK soon. It’s always a bad thing when someone gets injured but I am sure he has the best people taking good care of him and I wish him a speedy recovery.”
Lewis Hamilton finished third after starting from ninth due to a five place grid penalty for a gearbox change. Hamilton showed his pedigree during lap five grabbing onto what could only be described as a “three-for” when he overtook Esteban Ocon, Nico Hulkenberg, and Fernando Alonso on the inside of Turn 1.
Not pleased with the penalty but pleased with his result given the position he started from Hamilton said, “Today was all about damage limitation and I think to get in the top three is a really great result for the team and for myself. We would prefer we didn’t have the gearbox issue that we had this weekend, but I was really happy with my race pace. I had a really good start but I didn’t capitalize on it.”
After his unfortunate DNF he had in Melbourne two weeks ago, Pierre Gasly clearly made up for things with a very impressive result in yesterday's qualifying. He doubled down on that result finishing fourth and scoring his highest finishing position since the start of his F1 career in the second half of last season.
Overjoyed with his result, Gasly said, “Unbelievable, what an incredible day! The second race of the season with Toro Rosso and Honda, and we finish P4. It’s just amazing, I’m so happy! A big thanks to the team because the car was fantastic!”
Another impressive result was made by Haas and Kevin Magnussen who finished fifth as they continue to show their potential to move up the grid.
Nico Hulkenberg finished sixth for Renault with McLaren drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne finishing seventh and eighth respectively. It was a big result for Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, and their new partner Alfa Romeo as they scored there first points of the season with Ericsson ending the day in ninth. Sauber’s last points-scoring finish was by former driver Pascal Wehrlein last season.
Force India’s Esteban Ocon brought home the team's first points of the season in tenth with Carlos Sainz just missing the top ten and finishing in 11th. Ericsson’s rookie teammate Charles Leclerc also delivered an impressive result for Sauber finishing 12th ahead of Romain Grosjean in 13th.
Grosjean ran into some trouble later in the race when pieces of the left-side bargeboard of his car came off as he was driving down the main straight and into turn one.Williams’ drivers Lance Stroll and teammate Sergey Sirotkin finished 14th and 15th with Sergio Perez finishing 16th for Force India after receiving a time penalty for overtaking during the formation lap, the lap that takes place before the start of the race.
Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley also received a time penalty for failing to reestablish the original start order during the safety car period leaving him in 17th.
It was a disastrous night for Red Bull with both cars failing to finish the race. Max Verstappen suffered a puncture after making contact with Lewis Hamilton’s front after he attempted to overtake him on the inside of Turn 1. Daniel Ricciardo’s end incurred due to an electrical issue on lap 2.
Seventeen points separates Vettel and Hamilton, and fans won’t have long to wait for the next round as the Formula One season continues with the Chinese Grand Prix next week from Shanghai.