Sebastian Vettel took his second victory of the 2017 Formula One season to take the lead of the championship by seven points over Lewis Hamilton.
The German got a good getaway from third on the grid to immediately get past Hamilton and put pressure on maiden pole sitter Valtteri Bottas.
It was not an as good of a start for McLaren‘s Stoffel Vandoorne who did not make the start after the team suffered their fourth MGU-H failure of the weekend, the third to strike the Belgian.
Kimi Raikkonen also experienced some issues on the grid with Ferrari seeking permission from the FIA to cable tie a loose connection. The Finn was able to start without issue but found himself dropping positions rapidly off of the start, finding himself down in seventh place after being passed by Daniel Ricciardo and Felipe Massa.
Bottas led as Vettel and Hamilton clung on to the rear of the Mercedes over the opening laps.
Kevin Magnussen was the first retirement from the race itself after his Haas stopped at Turn 8.
Deciding to take a gamble by rolling the dice, Vettel pitted for new super-softs – indicating he would be two stopping – coming back out in 12th place.
Max Verstappen, who had been telling his team over the radio he wanted them to do something like Ferrari, followed Vettel into the pits for super-softs as well.
The elation of having fresh tyres quickly wore off for Verstappen as he found himself in the barrier after his brakes failed.
Out front Hamilton was all over the tail of his team-mate but was not able to attempt a move due to yellow flags as a result of the Dutchman’s incident.
The safety car was called out after Lance Stroll and Carlos Sainz made contact as the Spaniard rejoined the track after making his pitstop. Sainz was handed a three-place grid penalty for Sochi following the race.
Bottas, Hamilton and Ricciardo used this opportunity to take their mandatory pitstops, handing the lead of the race to Vettel.
Hamilton was given a five-second time penalty after the stewards deemed he had intentionally held up Ricciardo as they entered the pitlane, which allowed Mercedes to service Bottas and then Hamilton without having to stack the pair.
It was a difficult restart for Vettel as he had Bottas on his tail immediately with the pair going side by side, they fought it out until Turn 4 where Vettel managed to edge out the Finn to break clear.
After a number of laps and seeming to only fall further off the pace of Vettel, Mercedes decided to switch their drivers in the hopes that Hamilton could catch and pass the German. However, the Briton was not close enough to his team-mate to get the move done, only serving to allow Vettel to put more ground between himself and the Silver Arrows.
Fernando Alonso remained unhappy with his McLaren, reporting over the radio “I’ve never raced with less power in my life…”
Having been complaining that he was unhappy with his tyres Bottas took to the pitlane to strap on a fresh set of soft tyres to see him through to the end of the race.
In clear air Hamilton chipped away at the gap to Vettel, but the German came in for new tyres before the challenge from behind arrived – with Vettel rejoining just in front of Ricciardo and behind team-mate Raikkonen.
Hamilton held the lead until he came in himself, for new tyres and serve his penalty, handing the lead of the race back to Vettel.
Marcus Ericsson found himself added to the list of retirements after suffering a gearbox failure. Alonso soon joined him after suffering yet another engine problem, after spending much of the race trading places with Jolyon Palmer and Daniil Kvyat.
Out front, Hamilton was continually cutting the gap between himself and the race leader as they maneuvered the backmarkers but it was too late for the Brit to forge a genuine attempt for the lead of the race.
Vettel took the chequered flag in what was a fairly surprising victory, with Hamilton and Bottas joining him on the podium. Raikkonen came home in fourth, with Ricciardo completing the top five. Massa, Sergio Perez, Romain Grosjean, Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Ocon rounded off the top ten.
2017 Bahrain Grand Prix – Race Results
|5||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull Racing||+39.346s|
|7||11||Sergio Perez||MEX||Force India||+62.606s|
|10||31||Esteban Ocon||FRA||Force India||+95.711s|
|11||94||Pascal Wehrlein||GER||Sauber||+1 lap|
|12||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Toro Rosso||+1 lap|
|13||30||Jolyon Palmer||GBR||Renault||+1 lap|
|16||55||Carlos Sainz||ESP||Toro Rosso||DNF|
|18||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Red Bull Racing||DNF|