Vettel holds off late Hamilton charge to win Bahrain GP

Vettel holds off late Hamilton charge to win Bahrain GP

Mercedes took advantage of the SC but had to stack their drivers with Lewis Hamilton behind Valtteri Bottas.

"Valtteri didn't make any mistakes".

SAKHIR, Bahrain (AP) - Sebastian Vettel is back on top of the Formula One standings and his Ferrari team is bursting with ambition again.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel won his second race of the season on Sunday when he edged out Mercedes title rival Lewis Hamilton at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

"We don't know what the outcome would've been if Lewis had been at the front early on", said team boss Toto Wolff.

"On the restart, out of the last corner, it felt like the tyre just wasn't switched on".

Fighting talk from Ferrari, at long last.

The result sees Vettel take a seven point lead over Hamilton in the drivers' championship and Ferrari move three points clear of Mercedes in the constructors'.

Mercedes, who won the race a year ago with Rosberg, have taken five successive poles in Bahrain.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen leaving the pit garage in Bahrain.

"We finally have a competitive auto to count on and it is important to recognize the speed with which we implemented the developments", Marchionne said.

"Right from the first lap I felt the vehicle was there and the Easter hunt was on", said Vettel.

He said: "It was a real shame because the target today was a lot lot higher".

Hamilton accepted the blame for his race-wrecking penalty, imposed by the stewards after the Mercedes deliberately held up Ricciardo. It was his 11th podium. I just didn't have enough pace today and we need to find the reasons for that.

"It was definitely costly -- the pit lane incident", said Hamilton. As I said, losing points for the team, particularly when you could have potentially won the race is painful, but it is what it is. Meanwhile, Vettel went ahead to win the Bahrain GP 2017, his second consecutive win of the season.

Vettel, who was held up behind Bottas early on was the first of the major players to pit and when Ricciardo's teammate Max Verstappen suffered rear brake failure on the 12th lap and crashed it unleashed a chain of events. The 19-year-old Verstappen climbed out and kicked the barriers in frustration.

The safety vehicle came in at the end of lap 16 and Hamilton - eager to make amends - was on the move straightaway as he nailed Ricciardo at turn one.

Vettel drove a composed and professional drive to take the win but the British driver compromised his own effort, having been given a penalty for slowing on entry to the pit lane.

Valtteri Bottas was demoralised after being told to let through Hamilton late on in the race so his team-mate could try and catch Vettel.

He went on to pass the Australian before serving his penalty during his second pit stop before finally overtaking Bottas in the closing laps and finishing behind Vettel.

Hamilton came in for a tire change soon after and took his time penalty. Bottas, Hamilton and Ricciardo used this moment to pit, but the Brit lost his place due to queueing delays, Ricciardo jumped him in the process.

"You've got the pace to win this", said Hamilton's race engineer Pete Bonnington.

Meanwhile, there was more misery for McLaren.