Published: Fri, April 21, 2017
Sport | By Ellis Neal

Sebastian Vettel: Beating Lewis Hamilton into Turn 1 'crucial' for Bahrain win

Sebastian Vettel: Beating Lewis Hamilton into Turn 1 'crucial' for Bahrain win

The 2017 F1 World Championship is shaping up, as Ferrari's (NYSE:RACE) Sebastian Vettel took charge at Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix.

Hamilton's chief rival Sebastian Vettel is now the sole leader of a championship which has all the ingredients of becoming a classic after claiming his second win from the opening three rounds.

Bottas, who started from pole and led the early stages of the race, let Hamilton by for strategic reasons around mid-distance, and then again 10 laps from home when it became clear that the Briton was the team's best chance of catching race leader Sebastian Vettel.

By the halfway point, Vettel's lead was six seconds over Hamilton, who had just passed Bottas.

At the start Vettel jumped into second place, with Hamilton slipping down to a third. If anyone ever thinks I should feel happy with second, then I don't really know what to say.

In a congested pit lane, Hamilton was deemed by race stewards to have driven "unnecessarily slowly" in front of Red Bull Racing's Daniel Ricciardo.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said such orders were "a call you don't like to make", with the team's two drivers officially assured of equal terms and treatment despite their track records. "I was oversteering all through the race".

Vettel admitted after qualifying that the gap to the Mercedes drivers left him feeling "down" as he was happy with his auto, and after taking victory he suspects the good handling of his vehicle played a part in his strong race performance. To stop teams gaining an advantage in such circumstances, drivers must remain within five seconds of the vehicle in front under the Safety auto, and as Ricciardo almost went into the back of Hamilton as the entered the pit lane, Hamilton exceeded that limit and was hit with a five-second penalty. Losing points for a team, particularly when you could have won the race, is definitely painful but I gave it everything I could.

"It's small percentages now", he said of the difference between success and second.

"But something inside me told me we had a good auto and we can do well so right from the first lap I felt the vehicle was there and the Easter hunt was on". The incidents were coming fast, with 18-year-old Lance Stroll hit from the side on lap 13 by Carlos Sainz Jr. - forcing the safety auto to come out.

Hamilton backed off significantly on pit entry to avoid having to wait behind Bottas in the pits, but held up Ricciardo in the process.

The five-second penalty would hang over Hamilton for the rest of the race and hamstrung his chances of mounting a fight back.

"A challenging weekend", said Hamilton.

It was yet another frustrating day for former world champion Fernando Alonso in his McLaren.

Like this: