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Vettel holds off late Hamilton charge to win Bahrain GP

Vettel holds off late Hamilton charge to win Bahrain GP”

A dejected Lewis Hamilton proclaimed he does not exist to finish second after a number of mistakes in Bahrain allowed Sebastian Vettel to steal the early march in this year's championship fight.

The Finn had started on pole position, a career first, but tyre pressure problems at the start and a general lack of pace left him struggling to challenge Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel after the German had taken the lead.

Hamilton eventually finished second, ahead of Bottas, but a five-second time penalty for holding up Daniel Ricciardo at the pit entry prevented him from properly challenging Vettel. Hamilton, who won in China last weekend, crossed the finish line 6.6 seconds behind.

By the halfway point, Vettel's lead was six seconds over Hamilton, who had just passed Bottas. "But there was potential for Lewis to catch Sebastian, so I understand the team's decision".

Despite seeing Vettel make the best start to a season by a Ferrari driver since Michael Schumacher in 2004, Raikkonen said it offers him not extra motivation.

"I've never raced with less power in my life".

The undercut worked to perfection with Vettel taking charge of the race - even though the safety auto was deployed moments later after hapless Canadian rookie Lance Stroll crashed into the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz - with 12 of the 57 laps gone. We will push hard together, keep fighting. Losing points for a team, particularly when you could have won the race, is definitely painful but I gave it everything I could.

Vettel completed the 57 laps of the 5.4-kilometer (3.4-mile) track in 1 hour, 33 minutes, 53 seconds, for his third win in Bahrain after success with Red Bull in 2012 and 2013.

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The safety auto appeared on track after 18-year-old Canadian newcomer Lance Stroll, suffering his third retirement in three races, turned into Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz as the Spaniard left the pits.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen had already crashed out by then, blaming brake failure after he trekked across the gravel into the tire barrier on lap 12.

Both Mercedes drivers used the safety auto incident to pit for new tires, but Hamilton made the mistake of holding up Ricciardo.

Hamilton came in for a tire change soon after and took his time penalty.

When the race began in earnest again on lap 17, Hamilton burst straight past Ricciardo into third while Vettel brilliantly defended the corner twice to fend off Bottas.

Valtteri Bottas felt the pain of Mercedes team orders for the first time at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday but said he accepted they made sense in the circumstances.

McLaren's nightmare continued with Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne failing to start and Fernando Alonso retiring on the final laps but classified 14th.



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