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Bahrain GP: Vettel holds off Bottas to win, disaster for Red Bull

10 April 2018

In a chaotic race, both Red Bulls retired early on and then Kimi Raikkonen suffered a disastrous pit stop - running over a mechanic - to leave Vettel exposed.

Sebastian Vettel, victor at Australia and last 12 months in Bahrain, was fifth quickest ahead of past season's pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas who was first sixth for Mercedes.

The German raced to the victory by a mere 0.699s ahead of Valtteri Bottas and for the final 10 laps, it looked as if it was the Mercedes driver who would take it.

Red Bull's junior team Toro Rosso afforded it reason to be cheerful though: Pierre Gasly was an incredible fourth place for Toro Rosso on only the team's second start with Honda power.

Kevin Magnussen survived a close scare with off-strategy Haas team-mate Romain Grosjean to take fifth, somewhat making up for the squad's Australia woes, while Nico Hulkenberg was sixth for Renault.

The main surprise of the first segment of qualifying was the failure of max Verstappen - pilot "Red bull" broke the vehicle at the end of the first session and couldn't get back on track.

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Red Bull's race unravels early: Red Bull's race went south pretty quickly. Tracks such as Sakhir play more to the driving style on the Finnish driver, and out qualifying his Mercedes teammate in Lewis Hamilton would give him a confidence boost after a crash at Melbourne.

Verstappen's auto lost power and stopped on the track in the first session.

That should theoretically allow him to go longer in the race before needing to pit, opening up strategic possibilities Mercedes might be able to exploit in the event of a safety vehicle, like Ferrari did in Australia.

At the previous race in Australia, Ferrari's rivals Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport demonstrated a clear pace advantage, but on the smoother Bahrain International Circuit, Vettel suggests that Ferrari now fully understands their vehicle.

Raikkonen, however, faced a post-race investigation into a possible "unsafe release" of his auto, by Ferrari, following a routine pit-stop late in the session.

The mechanic was taken to the circuit medical centre with a suspected broken leg. The team subsequently tweeted that he had been transported to a nearby hospital for further treatment.

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A frantic start saw Vettel hold the lead but Raikkonen got passed on the first corner by Bottas. Mercedes' decision to go for the more durable medium tires and a one-stop strategy, compared to Ferrari's move to bolt on softer rubber in anticipation of a two-stop race, brought the evening alive.

Vettel's win pushed him up to 50 points in the drivers' standings, 17 ahead of Hamilton, with Bottas third on 22 points.

The Australian was 0.3 seconds quicker than Bottas and 0.4 seconds faster than Raikkonen.

Force India's Esteban Ocon managed to have a respectable top ten place on the grid while teammate Sergio Perez will be starting eleventh.

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Bahrain GP: Vettel holds off Bottas to win, disaster for Red Bull