Formula 1 F1 – Bahrain Grand Prix – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – April 8, 2018 Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley in action during the race REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah
April 8, 2018
By Abhishek Takle
MANAMA (Reuters) – Ferrari’s Formula One world championship leader Sebastian Vettel held on to win a nail-biting Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday in the German’s 200th race start.
The win was the 49th of the four-time champion’s career.
Finland’s Valtteri Bottas was second for Mercedes, a mere 0.699 seconds behind after chasing down Vettel over the closing laps, with team mate and reigning champion Lewis Hamilton third.
“These tires were done, done, in the last 10 laps,” a jubilant Vettel told his team over the radio after he took the chequered flag.
He had earlier told his team that everything was under control but that, he recognized later with a smile, was not the reality.
“With Bottas’ pace I thought he would catch me. I tried to keep it as clean as possible. Our plan worked but just, Bottas had a bit of a sniff but ran out of laps,” he said.
Vettel had led from pole position, with Bottas slotting into second place at the start from third on the grid, but ended up having to battle the Mercedes pair alone.
A disastrous pitstop for team mate Kimi Raikkonen left a Ferrari mechanic injured on the ground and forced the Finn’s retirement.
Hamilton meanwhile came from ninth, after a five place grid penalty, to secure a record-equaling 27th successive points finish.
“I started ninth so third is not bad at all,” said the Briton. “It’s damage limitation.”
Both of the Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo retired, but the energy drink company’s other team Toro Rosso celebrated a remarkable day with fourth place for French driver Pierre Gasly.
That represented a best result of the V6 turbo hybrid era for Honda, Toro Rosso’s engine partners after three nightmare years at McLaren.
There were also celebrations at Sauber, with Sweden’s Marcus Ericsson finishing ninth for his first points since 2015 and the Swiss team’s first of the season.
(Writing by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)