Vettel holds off late Hamilton charge to win Bahrain GP

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany, right, steers his auto during the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix, at the Formula One Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, April 16, 2017.

Lewis Hamilton's new Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas on track in Bahrain.

The Ferrari driver took his second win of the season after jumping Lewis Hamilton for second at the first corner, and getting ahead of Valtteri Bottas for the lead by being the first frontrunning auto to make a pitstop.

Hamilton was catching the German on every lap but ultimately ran out of time and finished nearly seven seconds behind.

"Right from the first lap I felt the auto was there and the Easter hunt was on", said Vettel. There is more nuance here, fantastic drives that might end with a 7th-placed finish, the satisfaction of watching a team in the pit-lane working in ideal unison, Fernando Alonso, a world champion of unspeakable talent imprisoned in a McLaren vehicle with all the speed and reliability of an Altavista search.

The victory was Vettel's second of the season after the four-times World Champion won the opener in Australia. The Honda hole just keeps on getting deeper.

"But for now the team has done a really, really great job".

"I was at the tail end of the front pack and I could see everyone else in front of me - they were sliding and looked like they were struggling more".

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas finished third after starting from pole position for the first time. It was his 11th podium. "It was tough but I didn't have enough pace today".

"It was a really tricky race for me. I was oversteering all through the race".

Bottas came in first as the leading auto with Hamilton stacked behind him to take the soft tyres.

"The pit lane was really my fault so apologies to my team", Hamilton said. "We will regather as a team and come back fighting. Losing points for the team is definitely painful but it is what it is". With Vettel 11s behind Hamilton on lap 40 of 57, Mercedes finally confirmed that the Brit would in fact be two-stopping. Vettel immediately latched onto the back of the Finn, while Hamilton remained a lurking threat as the race began to settle in.

Vettel came from third on the grid in qualifying to first place in the early laps of the race, according to SB Nation.

Verstappen asked his team to match that strategy and he came in on the next lap. However, his race was over corners later as his "brakes failed" and he went straight on, through the gravel and into the barrier. Bottas moved out of the way at Turn 14 with 10 laps remaining to allow his teammate to chase the win, but despite Hamilton closing a gap of almost 20 seconds after his stop to just five at one stage, Vettel managed the gap to secure the win.

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.

Both Mercedes drivers used the safety vehicle incident to pit for new tires, but Hamilton held up Ricciardo.

The German has won here twice before, both times with Red Bull in 2012 and 2013, after each of which he went on to win the title.

The delay for Bottas ensured Vettel led behind the Safety Car, but the leading pair were on supersoft tires compared to softs for Ricciardo and Hamilton behind.

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

There was some frantic action behind the leaders, with Fernando Alonso battling it out in midfield. On lap 36 Vettel caught Raikkonen and the Ferraris traded position, giving Vettel a clear road to hunt down Hamilton who was still in the lead. He took on his penalty, too, to leave him back in third.

"You've got the pace to win this", said Hamilton's race engineer Pete Bonnington. McLaren had power unit issues which forced Vandoorne out of the race even before it started.