Sebastian Vettel - The key was to 'upset' Mercedes early on

F1 Vettel wins Bahrain Grand Prix

Lars Baron Getty Images

MANAMA, April 16 Sebastian Vettel celebrated Lewis Hamilton's lucky number on Sunday, the Ferrari driver taking his 44th Formula One victory to go top of the standings while the man in auto 44 kicked himself for costly errors.

The result sees Vettel take a seven point lead over Hamilton in the drivers' championship and Ferrari move three points clear of Mercedes in the constructors'.

Hamilton's Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas was third after leading from his first pole position, struggling with his tires and twice respecting team orders to allow the faster Briton through.

"Lewis was a threat towards the end and, with the traffic, you never know", said Vettel, who also won the season-opener in Australia. The 19-year-old Verstappen, who had driven so well from 16th place on the grid to finish third in China last weekend, climbed out and kicked the barriers in frustration.

Hamilton dropped to third behind Bottas and Vettel at the start, and then picked up a five-second penalty for going to slowly into the pits under the safety auto, holding up Daniel Ricciardo.

Hamilton was handed a five-second penalty for a pit lane infringement which ultimately cost him dearly. The team have generally been making really great choices this year. I think we could have been a bit closer. "The factory has come alive and hopefully the success in the last few races helps us".

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.

With Bottas losing power in his rear tires, Vettel sensed it was the right time to pit for new tires on lap 11.

Max Verstappen, who started in sixth, was running well until his Red Bull inexplicably had a brake failure shortly after the teenager had pitted on lap 12.

The safety vehicle 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.

Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari was in fourth, while Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull finished in fifth.

Both Mercedes drivers used the safety vehicle incident to pit for new tires, but Hamilton held up Ricciardo.

Hamilton accepted it was his mistake although he appeared confused as to why he had been penalised.

This put Bottas in second place, but he then backed off to let the quicker Hamilton through to chase Vettel down.

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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