Vettel holds off late Bottas charge to win thrilling race in Bahrain
Ferrari's Formula One world championship leader Sebastian Vettel held on to win a nail-biting Bahrain Grand Prix yesterday in the German's 200th race start.
The win was the 49th of the four-time champion's career.
Finland's Valtteri Bottas was second for Mercedes, a mere 0.699 seconds behind after chasing down Vettel over the closing laps, with team-mate and reigning champion Lewis Hamilton third.
"These tyres were done, done, in the last 10 laps," a jubilant Vettel told his team over the radio after he took the chequered flag.
He had earlier told his team that everything was under control but in truth, he recognised later with a smile, that was not the reality.
"With Bottas' pace I thought he would catch me. I tried to keep it as clean as possible. Our plan worked, but just. Bottas had a bit of a sniff but ran out of laps," he said.
Vettel had led from pole position, with Bottas slotting into second place at the start from third on the grid, but ended up having to battle the Mercedes pair alone.
A disastrous pitstop for team-mate Kimi Raikkonen left a Ferrari mechanic injured on the ground and forced the Finn's retirement.
Hamilton, meanwhile, came from ninth, after a five place grid penalty, to secure a record-equalling 27th successive points finish.
"I started ninth so third is not bad at all," he said. "It's damage limitation."
Both of the Red Bull drivers, Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, retired, but the energy drink company's other team, Toro Rosso, celebrated a remarkable day with a superb fourth place finish for French driver Pierre Gasly.
That represented a best result of the V6 turbo hybrid era for Honda, Toro Rosso's engine partners, after three nightmare years at McLaren.
There were also celebrations at Sauber, with Sweden's Marcus Ericsson finishing ninth for his first points since 2015 and the Swiss team's first of the new season.