Vettel holds on to win again in Bahrain with Alonso in seventh

Max Verstappen's damaged Red Bull following a puncture

He re-emerged in third place with Hamilton lead. Really happy I got the second run and got it clean.

"The vehicle felt okay, but we need to find some more pace especially on a single lap".

Hamilton was only fifth and fourth respectively in Friday's two practice sessions with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen setting the overall pace. Hamilton, who voiced his frustrations over the radio on several occasions, completed the podium in third place.

"Both Mercedes at the end of the stints were very strong", said Vettel. "The auto has been excellent".

Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas will also take on a new gearbox, but - under the sport's rules - avoids a penalty as he is permitted a free change after his qualifying crash in Australia.

From the onset, Ferrari seemed to have the superior vehicle this weekend to that of Mercedes.

The race was won by Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, thanks to a stroke of luck provided by the deployment of the virtual safety auto at just the right time for the German, also a four-times champion.

Hamilton's Mercedes team revealed that the British driver suffered a hydraulics leak at the curtain raiser in Melbourne, adding that he was even fortunate to finish the race.

Moments later, there were heads on hands in the Red Bull garage as Ricciardo's race was ended.

The new vehicle bristles with exciting innovations like the blown mirrors which allow air in at the front and out of the back with clever intentions. It has been a poor start to the season from Verstappen. He spun his vehicle after pushing too hard early on in Melbourne and finished sixth.

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Verstappen will line up 15th, Romain Grosjean 16th, with Sauber's Marcus Ericsson 17th, Williams' Sergey Sirotkin 18th, Charles Leclerc 19th, while Lance Stroll put the second Williams down in 20th. Teammate Brendon Hartley, who damaged his front wing when he hit a bird early in the session, just missed out in 11th. He'd done enough to make it into Q2, however.

McLaren took seventh and eighth, with Fernando Alonso ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne, while Marcus Ericsson ran a one-stop strategy to claim ninth - his first points since 2015, and Sauber's first top 10 finish in nearly a year.

Raikkonen finished in third place in the opening race of this year's F1 calendar in Australia.

"Our qualifying performance was worse than we expected", Alonso said.

"I thought that was checkmate because we need to come in again".

Toro Rosso-Honda's Pierre Gasly took a brilliant fourth place.

"Who were those people on the left-hand side?" the British driver said.

The race stewards said they felt Ferrari had done all they could to minimise the risk of the wheel coming off the vehicle.

It was a frustrating day for Hamilton, who is vying with Vettel for a fifth world title to move level with Argentine great Juan Manuel Fangio.

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