Lewis Hamilton 'deflated' after costly Bahrain GP pit-stop error

Hamilton's chief rival Sebastian Vettel is now the sole leader of a championship which has all the ingredients of becoming a classic after claiming his second win from the opening three rounds. Personally, it is tough, but that is life.

Hamilton came in for a tyre change soon after and took his time penalty. Ferrari did a better job.

"We don't like that", Wolff stated.

Finland's Kimi Raikkonen, Vettel's 2007 champion teammate who has yet to stand on the podium this season and not been on pole since 2008, slipped 34 points behind - half as many as the German. "Losing points for the team is definitely painful".

"It's the second time I've double stacked and lost out", Hamilton said. It was only in the closing stages, once Hamilton had taken his second set of tyres and the Mercedes team had asked Bottas, who continued to struggle for pace despite his qualifying triumph, to move aside for his team-mate, that the Ferrari driver came under any pressure. The two Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo also showcased good pace in the starting laps. I tried to extend the first stint but I couldn't keep up with the pace. Ferrari then opted for an aggressive strategy, pitting Vettel on lap 10 in the hope of leap frogging the sluggish Mercedes with some quick, unimpeded laps.

A decisive moment in the race came a lap later when the safety auto was deployed for a collision at Turn 1 between Williams' Canadian rookie Lance Stroll and Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz.

Hamilton also finished second to Vettel in the Australian opener, before winning in China, and he said that defeat had not been due to any "massive fault of my own" but rather due to heavy tyre wear. "And then in the second and third stint still the pace wasn't there and the vehicle didn't feel as it did yesterday, so we'll have to find out what the problem was".

If Mercedes AMG Petronas didn't already know it, they do now.

"It is great to know we have a strong auto and be able to fight for wins", the four-time champion said.

It was Vettel's third victory in Bahrain and the 44th of his career, a signal that Ferrari not only have a fast and competitive auto again, but also that the team has rediscovered its confidence.

Hamilton was the new race leader, but with more than 20 laps to go, a time penalty still to take, and with Vettel on new tires, it was a precarious lead.

Vettel received intense pressure from Bottas on the restart but defender the spot well and quickly put a gap between him and the Mercedes.