Formula One: Vettel wins Bahrain Grand Prix ahead of Hamilton

Hamilton, who has been upbeat about the battle of champions and the fight his Mercedes team have on their hands, appeared more subdued as mechanics cleared the Bahrain Grand Prix paddock.

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 vehicle 44 kicked himself for costly errors. "Happy for all you guys at merc that Valtteri is going well", tweeted Nico Rosberg, whose decision to retire after winning the 2016 world title led Bottas to Mercedes this season.

Vettel stopped on lap 33 for his second change of rubber to allow Hamilton to take the lead of the race.

Mercedes, who won the race previous year with Rosberg, have taken five successive poles in Bahrain.

Hamilton, who was penalised for a pit-lane incident by braking in front of Ricciardo when he slowed before stopping, congratulated Vettel and thanked Bottas, who moved over to let the Briton through in the closing laps.

Defence of the race: Vettel holding firm under the attack of Valtteri Bottas after the Safety Car restart turned out to be vital to his race.

At the end, Vettel won by a clear six seconds but Hamilton's pace set up a grandstand finish as he dramatically cut the gap, helped by teammate Bottas moving over to concede second in the final stint. Vettel pitted early, on lap 11, as the team went aggressive, looking to the undercut and taking another set of the supersoft rubber.

He charged, on the freshest rubber of the leaders, and was two seconds a lap quicker than Bottas and just over a second up on Vettel, with the team telling him he had the pace to win. In came the Dutchman, but he was out of the race only moments later after a brakes failure saw him end up in the wall at turn four.

These days the 86-year-old is the chairman Emeritus of the Formula One Group and was seen at the Sakhir Circuit mingling with drivers past and present including Vettel and former Ferrari star Jean Alesi.

Hamilton's new Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas finished third, after starting from his maiden pole position, ahead of compatriot Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari and fifth-placed Australian Daniel Ricciardo.

"Right from the first lap I felt the vehicle was there and the Easter hunt was on", said Vettel.

"A really great day", Vettel said on the podium, as per Sky Sports. As I said, losing points for the team, particularly when you could have potentially won the race is painful, but it is what it is. Bottas tried a move on Vettel around the outside of Turn 4, but the Ferrari was positioned so that Bottas would always run out of track on the exit and Vettel retained the lead. He came in on lap 41, served his five-second penalty, and came out P3, 10s behind Bottas.

Stoffel Vandoorne's race was over before it even began with his MCL32 pushed back into the garage while he stood stoically for the Bahrain national anthem.

He said: "Congratulations to Seb".

Further back, Fernando Alonso's woes with McLaren continued as he languished outside of the points, being passed by both Daniil Kvyat and Jolyon Palmer on the same lap at one point.

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