Bahrain: Vettel strikes with brilliant victory in spectacular Bahrain Grand Prix
BIC, Sakhir – Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel roared to a brilliant victory this evening in the 2017 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) once again provided the perfect setting for a sizzling motorsport spectacle.
After splitting the first two races of the season with Mercedes’s Lewis Hamilton, Vettel was eager to strike back and it was the star pair once again battling in the end for all the glory. This time it was the scarlet red of Ferrari taking the chequered flag as a brilliant series of fireworks lit up the night sky above Sakhir.
His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister presented Vettel the winning driver’s trophy.
Gulf Air CEO Maher Salman Al Musallam also handed over trophies, as did Minister of Youth and Sports Affairs Hisham Al Jowder and Bahrain Motor Federation Vice-President Shaikh Salman bin Isa bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa.
Vettel’s win ended the recent run of success for Mercedes in the Kingdom, as they had won every year since the event was switched to a night race. But Vettel had other plans and he claimed his third triumph in Bahrain after previously winning twice with his former team Red Bull Racing, while also securing the 44th triumph of his career.
The German gained the lead from pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas during a safety car period early on in the race. At the re-start, he managed to stave off his rival and eventually built a comfortable advantage of over 10 seconds from the rest of the pack.
But Vettel was made to sweat a bit over the final 10 laps as a charging Lewis Hamilton was closing in from behind. It was too much of a task, however, as Vettel had built a big enough lead to cruise to the chequered flag.
Vettel crossed the finish line with a winning time of one hour 33 minutes 53.374 seconds. Hamilton, who had been given a five-second time penalty for impeding Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo in the pit lane, had cut the gap to 6.660 seconds by the end. Bottas had to settle for the final podium place 20.397s back in third.
“The car was really amazing to drive and I had a good feeling yesterday,” said Vettel during his post-race interview on the podium.
“For many laps it really worked well. It was just a pleasure. Lewis was threatening towards the end, and with the traffic you never know. But it was a very controlled race, and the car was simply a dream today.”
Ferrari’s Kimi Rakkonen finished fourth 22.475s from his teammate. He was followed by Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo (+39.346s) in fifth and Williams’s Felipe Massa (+54.326s) in sixth. Force India’s Sergio Perez (+62.606s) was seventh and Haas’s Romain Grosjean (+74.865s) rounded out the top eight. Nico Hulkenberg of Renault and Perez’s teammate Esteban Ocon were the last two to claim points.
Classified 11th to 14th were Pascal Wehrlein of Sauber, Daniil Kvyat of Toro Rosso, Jolyon Palmer of Renault and Fernando Alonso of McLaren.
Not classified were Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson, Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz, Williams’s Lance Stroll, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, Haas’s Kevin Magnussen and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne.
The Bahrain Grand Prix was the third round of the 2017 FIA Formula 1 World Championship. Racing resumes on April 30 with the Russian Grand Prix.
Following the conclusion of the 2017 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, Arif Rahimi, Chairman of the Bahrain International Circuit, said: “I offer our congratulations to Sebastian Vettel and Scuderia Ferrari on a superb victory under the lights here at the BIC. With another record crowd of 33,000 today and 93,000 over the weekend, all our main stands were completely sold out, as well as Paddock Club and corporate boxes for the first time ever. We have now broken our race day attendance records every year since we began racing under lights and expect that to continue for many years to come, as we continue to benefit from the ever-growing interest in Formula One in the region.“As the sport enters a new era under the ownership of Liberty, we look forward to working closely with them as we share new ideas of how to make the race weekend even more spectacular for fans. It is clear to us that they share a similar vision for the future of the sport and we will work hard alongside them in making that happen.
“I offer my sincerest thanks to those who have contributed to the success of the weekend, from the team here at the BIC, to the race teams, our colleagues at the FIA and Formula One Management, and of course the fans.”
“Putting on a race weekend of this nature is a major undertaking and I thank all those involved for making it such as success. I particularly thank the huge support from the Government ministries, my team here at the BIC, as well as our partners and sponsors.”
Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Chief Executive of the Bahrain International Circuit, added:
“The crowds here have yet again been treated to an incredible weekend of motorsport. The spectacle of racing under lights in the desert has without doubt been made even better with the new faster cars, combined with a hugely competitive field.