Vettel undercuts Mercedes to win in Bahrain

April 16, 2017

Sebastian Vettel has won the Bahrain Grand Prix after after executing an undercut on Mercedes and now leads the drivers' championship.

 

Starting in third, Vettel's charge to the win came as lights went out at the desert circuit and the German driver quickly slotted into second place.  

 

What became apparent as the race developed was that pole sitter then turn race leader

 

did not have the same pace which took him to the first pole in his career on Saturday.

 

Coming under pressure from Vettel and not being able to pull away, it looked apparent that there was an issue with Mercedes. What was later diagnosed as a problem with his rare tyre pressure due to a faulty piece of equipment meant Bottas has started the race with the incorrect tyre pressure.

 

With Hamilton gaining and the German unable to pass, with little discussion over team radio, Vettel pitted on lap 10. 

 

Emerging on a super soft tyres, Vettel showed his hand as he had done in Australia. Vettel's move prompted Max Verstappen and Red Bull into the pits as the Dutch-man had earlier complained to be faster and wanting to find a way past the forerunners.

 

With pit-stop completed and heading back out to the fight, Verstappen suffered break failure, which left young driver frustrated with only the tyre wall able to absorb his frustration as he punched the wall and headed  back to the pits.

 

The race soon went from yellow flag to safety car as a collision between rookie driver Lance Stroll and Carlos Sainz soon neutralised the it all. Sainz had hit Stroll's side pod as the Williams driver attempted to stay on the racing line through the apex of turn 1. 

 

Jointing the list of other drivers who failed to complete the Bahrain Grand Prix, it was a bitter end for Stroll, who is yet to finish a race in his first season inf F1. 

 

The safety car caused a rush on the pits as Mercedes looked to neutralise Vettel's undercut. Stacking both drivers, Bottas was serviced first and whilst cuing Hamilton deliberately obstructed Daniel Ricciardo.

 

Tactically it was a decision that Hamilton made to help his standing, but it his decision critically cost him 5 seconds in a drive through penalty.

 

Hamilton still emerged behind Ricciadro as Mercedes pit-crew struggled to change with the left front tyre. When the race restarted Hamilton made easy work of Ricciardo and was soon ahead of the Australian,

 

With Bottas on soft, Hamilton soon caught his team-mate and over taking on turn turn one of lap 27. Vettel's answer was to pit changing to a pair of soft tyres.

 

The question now would Hamilton go long and try to make it to the end of the race knowing that the tyres handing would fall off toward the end and still have a gap of over 5 seconds to pay for his earlier penalty.

 

With clear first and second drivers emerging between the two teams, Raikkonen put up no resistance as Vettel came up behind him in pursuit of Hamilton. With just over 9 seconds separating the two championship challengers, Hamilton pitted, served his penalty and emerged from the pits with just 16 laps to go.

 

Hamilton was on a mission and was equipped to try to chase Vettel down. When he came upon his team-mate, Hamilton dove up the inside of him, Bottas resisting with just as much effort as Raikkonen had done laps earlier with Vettel.

 

It was a multiplication of 10 that separated the first 4. Ten second from Vettel to Hamilton and Ten seconds between Bottas and Raikkonen as the minutes ticked down on the Grand Prix.

 

Hamilton's charge to Vettel though helped by traffic from the back markers ended 6.660s behind Vettel and Hamilton.            

  

 

 

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