Hamilton takes no solace in second place

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany steers his car during the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Formula One Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir Bahrain Sunday

A delighted Sebastian Vettel moved clear at the top of the world championship on Sunday when he claimed a well-judged victory for Ferrari in the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton staged a late charge to finish second after picking up a time penalty.

Hamilton's new Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas finished third, after starting from his maiden pole position, ahead of compatriot Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari and fifth-placed Australian Daniel Ricciardo.

"More importantly, however, we are now completely confident that our victory in Melbourne (the season-opener) wasn't just a one-off and that we will be at the forefront of this world championship until the last".

Hamilton, who had been so dominant in China last weekend, was gracious in defeat but vowed to fight back.

At the start Vettel jumped into second place, with Hamilton slipping down to a third. "I don't know what to say".

Hamilton, who was penalised for a pit-lane incident by braking in front of Ricciardo when he slowed before stopping, congratulated Vettel and thanked Bottas, who moved over to let the Briton through in the closing laps.

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And the 32-year-old has called on his Mercedes team to bounce back for the Sochi race, well aware that Vettel will be ready to pounce should the sport's reigning champions put a foot wrong.

It was a misdemeanor that cost him a five-second time penalty which he served during a second pit stop to change tires on lap 41 of the 57 race. Exclusively my fault. Then the time lost in the pitlane. A generator problem on the grid meant the team were unable to bleed his tyres properly and he started the race with higher pressures than he would have liked. He had a 10.5s gap to teammate Bottas and a 19.7s gap to Vettel, but with his fresher tyres immediately set fastest laps and closed the gaps.

The safety auto appeared on track after 18-year-old Canadian newcomer Lance Stroll, suffering his third retirement in three races, turned into Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz as the Spaniard left the pits. But when I got to the pitlane it was four seconds.

"When you have a strong fight it is a great feeling so I felt good on the podium after the race".

"Lewis obviously was a very big threat again towards the end. but the vehicle was a dream today".

Germany's Nico Hulkenberg was ninth for Renault, that team's first points of the year, and French rookie Esteban Ocon bagged the final point for Force India. Fernando Alonso retired one lap from the end, while his teammate Stoffel Vandoorne did not even start because of engine failure.

Alonso could be heard on the team radio complaining about the complete lack of power his vehicle had and eventually retired at the death of the race.

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