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Vettel holds off charging Bottas in Bahrain

Vettel holds off charging Bottas in Bahrain

Vettel holds off charging Bottas in Bahrain

Lewis Hamilton profited from Ferrari's mishap to finish third behind his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

"My job is to go when the light changes". I couldn't have possibly realized that there was an issue with the rear left wheel, then I saw someone had got hurt and, immediately, I was told to stop by the team.

Bottas's team mate and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton, who had started ninth after a five place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change, finished third.

It looked as though it could get even worse for Hamilton, pictured, after Max Verstappen's less than ideal start to the season took another troubled turn following a collision with Hamilton on lap two. With the VSC on track, Verstappen managed to crawl back into the pits.

The incident resulted in a forced retirement for Raikkonen who was confused by the miscommunication in the pits.

A virtual safety vehicle period to recover the retired Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo paused the race, and after the re-start Hamilton swept past Fernando Alonso's McLaren on the pit straight before - seemingly with the braking zone fast approaching - deciding to dive past both Ocon and Hulkenberg into the first corner.

Toro Rosso-Honda's Pierre Gasly took a brilliant fourth place.

Gasly raced to a highly-impressive fourth place ahead of Magnussen, Hulkenberg, Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne.

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Up front, Vettel built a lead of 7.5s over Bottas, with Hamilton a further 9.1s back in third.

Carlos Sainz Jr. finished 11th for Renault after suffering on his Soft tyres, having completed 40 laps on the set he crossed the line on. Vettel was nearly overtaken by Bottas on the last lap but made a crucial blocking move and won by only 0.6 seconds for his 49th career win.

Between lap 49 and lap 54 Bottas closed the gap to Vettel from five seconds to one and on the final lap had the use of the DRS on the pit straight.

The German beat Valtteri Bottas to the win by less than a second after Mercedes appeared to have outsmarted Ferrari at the pit stops. The team said the mechanic, named only as Francesco, had sustained a shinbone and fibula fracture.

This follows the €5,000 ($6,100) penalty the team received Friday after Raikkonen left a pit stop during practice without one of his wheels being properly attached.

When asked by Motorsport.com whether his performance was more down to Mercedes' not being at the same level as in Australia, or Ferrari's own gains, Vettel replied: "It's a hard one". "I thought Valtteri would catch me". But Vettel held him off and just about retained his advantage. Marcus Ericsson secured Sauber's first points in the season with an impressive drive to ninth ahead of Force India's Esteban Ocon.

Raikkonen got passed on the first corner by Bottas, but Vettel held his ground.

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