Sebastian Vettel wins Bahrain Grand Prix, Kimi Raikkonen’s car hits mechanic

Ferrari's German driver Sebastian Vettel celebrates on his car after winning the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Sakhir circuit in Manama on April 8, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 08 April 2018
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Sebastian Vettel wins Bahrain Grand Prix, Kimi Raikkonen’s car hits mechanic

  • Sebastian Vettel makes perfect start to F1 season with two wins from two
  • Raikkonen’s car hit a team mechanic. Ferrari said the mechanic was taken to the hospital for treatment
SAKHIR, Bahrain: Sebastian Vettel just held on to win a dramatic Bahrain Grand Prix from pole position on Sunday and extended his championship lead over Lewis Hamilton, who finished third behind teammate Valtteri Bottas despite starting from ninth.
Vettel was almost overtaken by Bottas on the last lap, but made a crucial blocking move and won by only 0.6 seconds.
Hamilton was gifted a podium spot after Ferrari botched Kimi Raikkonen’s second tire change. A rear wheel was not fitted properly and, in his haste to get back into the race, Raikkonen’s car hit a team mechanic. Ferrari said the mechanic was taken to the hospital for treatment. There was no immediate update on his condition or the nature of his injury.
Vettel made it two straight F1 wins after victory at the season-opening Australian GP two weeks ago, sealing his 49th career win on his 200th race start.
“A bit sad because one of our mechanics got injured,” Vettel said. “A mixed day overall.”
Red Bull had an awful race, with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen retiring early on. In an ironic twist, Red Bull’s feeder team Toro Rosso had arguably the result of the day — with French driver Pierre Gasly driving superbly to finish a career-best fourth.
But it was determined and astute defending from Vettel, who drove just like a four-time F1 champion. He was under serious pressure from the faster car of Bottas, who was on better tires, but did not crack.
Vettel whooped with joy as he crossed the finish line, although his team’s celebrations were more low-key than usual following the mechanic’s hospitalization.
Raikkonen came in for his second tire change of the race after 36 of 57 laps of the 5.4-kilometer (3.3-mile) desert circuit, but the left rear tire was not secured properly. Raikkonen was given the green light to go but it was an unsafe release and, as he pulled away, he hit one of the mechanics.
Raikkonen’s car came to a halt a few meters later and he took off the steering wheel and dejectedly threw it into the cockpit. As he walked back through the team garage, the Finnish driver swiped away a water bottle in frustration.
Ferrari said it was “thinking about our man, waiting to know more after the treatment.”
It was a poor error from Ferrari, which was fined 5,000 euros ($6,140) for an unsafe pit release during practice on Friday.
As the sun set, tension rose on the grid as drivers prepared for their showdown under floodlights.
Vettel started on the front row with Raikkonen, and Bottas started third. Hamilton was ninth on the grid after incurring a five-place grid penalty for an unauthorized gearbox change.
A frantic start saw Vettel hold the lead but Raikkonen got passed in the first corner by Bottas.
Red Bull’s nightmare scenario made things easier for Hamilton, who no longer had two of the best drivers on the grid to contend with. But it was immensely frustrating for Verstappen. The Dutch driver had done brilliantly to jump from 15th on the grid, and fought with Hamilton on the inside heading into turn one. But he sustained too much damage after puncturing his left rear tire.
Moments later, there were heads on hands in the Red Bull garage as Ricciardo’s race was ended. He pulled over on the side of the track because of an electrical failure, prompting the safety car to come out. With the VSC on track, Verstappen managed to crawl back into the pits. He resumed the race but abandoned shortly after.


Lewis Hamilton tells rivals ‘catch me if you can’

Updated 20 February 2019
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Lewis Hamilton tells rivals ‘catch me if you can’

  • Five-time world champion feeling confident of a sixth crown ahead of new season.
  • Pre-season testing going well in Barcelona.

BARCELONA: Lewis Hamilton has warned his rivals they had better get ready to catch his dust as he is feeling “better than ever” ahead of the season.
The 34-year-old Briton enjoyed a near flawless run to secure his fifth drivers’ title last year. He won 11 of the 21 races to beat Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel with two races to spare, and he expects the Italian marque to once again keep him on his toes.
“Ferrari are very strong,” Hamilton said in Barcelona on the third day of pre-season testing.
“It appears they have a better package than last year, which means it will be a bigger challenge for us.
“In the last few years, Ferrari has looked good from the very beginning so that’s to be expected.”
But he said it would be a mistake to draw any hard and fast conclusions from the evidence thrown up by testing.
“We’ll have a better idea I guess this time next week where we stand but still then we won’t know what fuel loads everybody is on and who is showing their cars and who isn’t.”
Hamilton, with a new two-year deal that will earn him £40 million ($52 million) a season, is buzzing after the winter recess.
“I feel in the best shape that I’ve been in,” he assured his fans, as he embarks on his quest for a sixth championship and record sixth consecutive constructors’ crown for Mercedes.
On a sixth title he shrugged: “I am not even focusing on that. It’s a new season, a new year, a new chapter and we have to approach like it’s our first.
“We’re going for number one, that’s how I approach it.
“But it’s not something that I allow my peers to talk about. It’s not what we are here for to focus on that number.”
He dismissed out of hand any notion of complacency setting in at his all-conquering team.
“We are always driven to do something new and to break boundaries and do stuff that no one else has done before but we are fully aware of the work that it will take to deliver something like that and it’s by no means like ‘yeah we are going for the sixth’ like it’s a relaxed thing.
“It’s not like that.”
Hamilton’s bid for title number six begins at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 17.