Sebastian Vettel held off a late charge from Valtteri Bottas to claim victory in a thrilling Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Ferrari driver controlled the race from pole but faced a nervous final 10 laps as a decision to one-stop and fit soft compound rubber left him vulnerable to the medium-shod Mercedes of Bottas.
Vettel led Bottas for the opening stint as Kimi Raikkonen lost track position to his fellow Finn at the first corner.
With Bottas seemingly unable to make inroads on Vettel after the stops, Ferrari elected to abandon what appeared to be a two stop strategy for the German.
However, as the race reached its climax Bottas on the more durable rubber homed in on Vettel in the final laps, with the latter just hanging onto the victory by 0.699s at the chequered flag.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton recovered from ninth on the grid to claim the final place on the podium after Kimi Raikkonen’s race unravelled following a disastrous second stop.
The trip to pit lane was designed to mix up the strategy at the front but it backfired as the Finn left his pit bay before the left rear had been changed.
As a result, the Ferrari driver struck one of his mechanics, injuring the crew member in question, and subsequently retired from the race.
It proved to be a nightmare day for Red Bull as both Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen retired in the early laps.
Ricciardo suffered a sudden loss of power which forced the Australian, who started from fourth, out of the proceedings.
Moments earlier team-mate Verstappen made contact with Hamilton that resulted in damage to his left rear before a differential problem curtailed his day prematurely.
Meanwhile, there were celebrations at the Red Bull’s sister team as Pierre Gasly guided his Toro Rosso to an impressive fourth.
Haas F1’s Kevin Magnussen scored valuable points in fifth comfortably ahead of Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg.
McLaren was able to salvage a double points finish after their disappointing qualifying, as Fernando Alonso powered from 13th to seventh, while team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne was eighth.
The top 10 was completed by Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson and Force India’s Esteban Ocon, while Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley finished in 13th spot.
Hartley was handed a 30 second post-race penalty along with Sergio Perez for a a formation lap infringement, which dropped the drivers to 17th and 16th respectively.
“Car 11 (Perez) overtook car 28 (Hartley) before Turn 1 and then during the remainder of the formation lap made no noticeable effort to allow car 28 to regain his position,” read the stewards report.
“The driver of car 11 also admitted the driver of car 28 was not unduly delayed when leaving the grid to start the formation lap.
“In this case the stewards decided to not award penalty points as the penalty is the sufficient.
“Car 28 was overtaken by car 11 during the formation lap, failed to re-establish his position before the first safety car line and then did not enter the pits as required under Article 38.3.”
Vettel holds a 17 point lead over Hamilton in the championship ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix from April 13-15.
Result: Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix
|4||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m02.234s||57|
|7||Fernando Alonso||McLaren/Renault||1 Lap||56|
|8||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren/Renault||1 Lap||56|
|9||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber/Ferrari||1 Lap||56|
|10||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1 Lap||56|
|11||Carlos Sainz||Renault||1 Lap||56|
|12||Charles Leclerc||Sauber/Ferrari||1 Lap||56|
|13||Romain Grosjean||Haas/Ferrari||1 Lap||56|
|14||Lance Stroll||Williams/Mercedes||1 Lap||56|
|15||Sergey Sirotkin||Williams/Mercedes||1 Lap||56|
|16||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1 Lap||56|
|17||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||1 Lap||56|
|DNF||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||Collision||3|
|DNF||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||Electrical||1|