RACE: Vettel holds on to beat Bottas in Bahrain

RACE: Vettel holds on to beat Bottas in Bahrain

Lewis Hamilton will have to do what no Formula One driver has ever done to win Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix after an unscheduled gearbox change left the Mercedes driver facing a five-place grid penalty.

His Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel, meanwhile, who won in Melbourne two weeks ago to take the early championship lead, will line up on pole.

Haas, who turned heads with their speed in the Australian season opener, could not quite repeat their dream qualifying result from Melbourne with Magnussen's team mate Romain Grosjean failing to make it past the opening 18 minutes of qualifying.

Speaking after the race, Raikkonen said he was unaware there had been a problem at the stop until he was told over the radio to bring his vehicle to a halt.

He had earlier told his team that everything was under control but that, he recognised later with a smile, was not the reality.

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I hope that Bahrain will again show us that cars can overtake especially in the DRS zones and that we have not lost any of this spectacle of motor eacing.

"I'll try and eke out every last bit of power and strength from this auto", Hamilton said. "Our plan worked but just, Bottas had a bit of a sniff but ran out of laps", said the four-time champion. The Finn had to settle for second place on the grid after having set a time that was just 0.143 seconds slower than Vettel's. In the other McLaren, Vandoorne also missed the cut along with Perez and Brendon Hartley who at least ensured that both Toro Rossos out-paced the McLarens.

Gambling on a one-stopper on the soft tyres to cover Bottas' one-stop on the mediums, Vettel ran nearly 40 laps on the yellow-marked tyres.

It was feared he would be punished for an unsafe release - because his front right wheel was not attached properly - and given a grid penalty, but instead Ferrari were fined €5,000 (RM23,767).

Hamilton could take some consolation in equaling Raikkonen's all-time record of 27 successive points finishes.

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"I started ninth so third is not bad at all", Hamilton said.

Behind the Ferraris and Mercedes it's Daniel Ricciardo for Red Bull, but team-mate Max Verstappen crashed out in Q1 and will start the race in 15th. He was left with a rear left puncture and limped back to the pits for new tyres before retiring the vehicle due to damage from the early incident. "It's a different track but if those circumstances are the same I think we'll be very close".

"But I will give it all I can".

Pierre Gasly continued his excellent showing so far this weekend by finishing best of the rest in the Toro Rosso-Honda. But they finished a lap down.

Sauber's Marcus Ericsson banked his first points since the 2015 Italian Grand Prix in ninth place after running an extremely long first stint on softs and switching to mediums to execute a one-stop strategy to good effect.

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