The Associated Press SAKHIR, Bahrain (AP) — Sebastian Vettel just held on to win a dramatic Bahrain Grand Prix from pole position on Sunday, while his Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen accidentally broke a team mechanic’s leg after a botched tire change cost him a podium spot.
Lewis Hamilton profited from Ferrari’s mishap to finish third behind Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas. Both Red Bulls failed, with Max Verstappen retiring moments after Daniel Ricciardo, facilitating Hamilton’s transition from ninth on the grid to the podium.
It could have been even better for Mercedes.
Bottas almost overtook Vettel on the last lap, but Vettel made a crucial blocking move and won by only 0.6 seconds. It was the four-time F1 champion’s 49th career win in his 200th race start.
“The last five laps were really difficult,” Vettel said. “I thought Valtteri would catch me. I nursed the tires and it worked, but only just.”
Vettel followed up his win at the season-opening Australian GP two weeks ago by staging a nerve-wracking rearguard.
Although the German driver looked steady behind the wheel, his mind was racing almost as fast as Bottas’ Mercedes behind him.
“I was doing the maths in the car: 10 laps to go, with that pace he’s going to catch me,” a relieved Vettel said. “I just really tried to keep it as clean as possible.”
No driver has won the opening two races and then failed to win the title since Keke Rosberg in 1982.
Ferrari totally botched 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 ran over and broke a mechanic’s left leg.
“A bit sad because one of our mechanics got injured,” Vettel said. “A mixed day overall.”
Raikkonen had been given the green light to go despite work still continuing on the rear left tire. After knocking the mechanic, named only as Francesco, to the ground, Raikkonen stopped his car 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.