The top ten midway: Vettel, Bottas, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Gasly, Magnussen, Hulkenberg, Alonso, Vandoorne and Ocon.
Hamilton took advantage of a virtual safety auto period, following the retirement of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, to overtake Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Ocon and Nico Hulkenberg in the first five laps.
Verstappen suffered a rear-left puncture after making contact with Hamilton as he tried to pass the Briton, and limped back to the pits.
“But I think there was still enough space on the left”.
Moments later, there were heads on hands in the Red Bull garage as Ricciardo’s race was ended. “My job is to go when the light is green”.
Vettel said it was normal for a driver to react emotionally in high-pressure situations.
Driver of the day: This can go to one of two drivers.
“That would have really been hard”. Fearing Mercedes’ strategy would play out as predicted, Ferrari ditched Vettel’s second stop, keeping him out on soft tires originally meant to survive a far shorter stint. Hamilton stopped a lap later, swapping his soft tyres for mediums.
The Ferrari worked superbly across the weekend in Bahrain – well-balanced, with great pace and working its tyres well in the high temperatures and Vettel made the most of their advantage.
Vettel led right from the start.
Ferrari drafted Raikkonen into the pits at the end of Lap 35 to put him onto a set of Supersofts, hoping their added performance would give him the chance to jump Hamilton. The Finn hit the gas before the left-rear had been changed and struck a mechanic’s leg. Raikkonen stopped in the pitlane with three new tyres and the unchanged old one on his vehicle and retired. However, following his first pit stop, he lost his track position to Hamilton, only to regain it by passing the Brit halfway through the race.
Back at the very front, Vettel tried to pull away from Bottas but could only build up a gap of just over four seconds.
Ferrari said the mechanic on the left rear wheel, named only as Francesco, had been taken to hospital with a suspected shin bone and fibula fracture.
Ferrari has also been handed a significant fine of 50,000 Euros for the unsafe release, with the FIA saying the team released the auto in a risky manner that put personnel into peril.
“I was doing the maths in the vehicle: 10 laps to go, with that pace he’s going to catch me”, a relieved Vettel said. There was confusion over the radio as a peeved Hamilton claimed he was “driving to target” times in a bid to catch Vettel, but he finished six seconds off the pace in the third. Valtteri Bottas pitted two laps later, instead opting for the medium compound for a comfortable one-stop strategy.