Sebastian Vettel returned to the top of the F1 championship table after winning Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix from third on the grid.
Vettel shot himself into second place at the start of the race, overtaking a relatively slow-starting Lewis Hamilton on the run down to Turn 1.
With the Englishman behind, Vettel set his sights on pole-sitter and race leader Valtteri Bottas, but couldn’t find a way past the new Mercedes recruit.
Sensing that Vettel would only lose further time behind Bottas, Ferrari rolled the dice and pitted the German on Lap 10.
Mercedes drivers stayed out until Max Verstappen’s retirement brought out the safety car, which should have brought the race back in their favour.
However, the Brackley-based team botched both their pitstops, losing to the extent of three seconds each time.
To make matters worse, Hamilton was handed a five-second penalty for slowing down in the pitlane, in an attempt to hold Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo while he waited for Mercedes to complete Bottas’ pitstop.
As a result, Vettel led the field when the safety car came into the pits, with Bottas and Hamilton following behind in second and third places respectively.
Hamilton was allowed to pass Bottas as he was going longer on the soft tyres, but would eventually fall behind the Finn after serving his penalty during the second round of pitstops.
The battle between the two, however, was not over just yet, with Hamilton charging back after his pitstop to promote himself back into second place.
Now in fresh air, the triple-world champion tried to catch runaway leader Vettel, but the gap between the two eventually proved too big to overcome in the final 10 laps of the race.
The German eventually won by a margin of 6.7s from Hamilton, with Bottas continuing his podium streak in third.
Kimi Raikkonen was next up in fourth, while Ricciardo could finish no higher than fifth after struggling for grip during his second stint.
Felipe Massa ensured Williams finished as the best of the rest in sixth, while Sergio Perez catapulted from 18th on the grid to finish seventh.
Romain Grosjean was eighth for Haas, while Nico Hulkenberg secured his first points as a Renault driver in ninth.
Esteban Ocon completed the top 10, securing another double points finish for Force India.
by Rachit Thukral