Talking points from the Bahrain Grand Prix, including Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton

Formula 1
Hamilton and Vettel
Hamilton and Vettel

Following Sebastian Vettel's victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix, we look at the five key talking points from Sunday's race.

1. Ferrari lay down gauntlet to Mercedes

After Hamilton stormed to pole position by more than half a second in Australia, it looked as though the sport was set for another year of domination by the British driver and his Mercedes team. Yet the world champions will now head to Shanghai winless from the opening two rubbers.

The Mercedes cars were never on the pace in Bahrain. Recent history suggests hotter temperatures suits the Ferrari, but their advantage over Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas appeared greater at this venue than last year. There will be some head-scratching at Mercedes as to how their dominance in Melbourne - and indeed the two winter tests - seemingly evaporated in the space of a fortnight. But kudos to Ferrari; it looks as though we may have a title battle on our hands.

2. Hamilton finds an unlikely ally

Hamilton did not hold back in his assessment of Max Verstappen's gung-ho manoeuvre on lap two. "Such a d***head," Hamilton said as he watched a television replay of the incident after the chequered flag. Quite rightly, Hamilton was asked to elaborate on his comment by a Dutch journalist in the post-race press conference.

But before Hamilton answered, Vettel intervened. "I am not sure what Lewis did, but we have all been in that situation where we fight someone and we go wheel-to-wheel, and you have a lot of adrenaline going," Vettel said. "It is not justified to give us this kind of s*** question. If we are racing and we are full of adrenaline then sometimes we say these things."

The racing, though, had long since concluded. One wonders whether Vettel - whose radio misdemeanours have in the past landed him in hot water - was making a point to justify his own previous failings rather than defending Hamilton?

3. Bottas fails to impress

Valtteri Bottas wants to contend for the championship but did little here to prove his title credentials. Bottas may have out-qualified Hamilton but the Finn was disappointing in his pursuit of Vettel.

Vettel was on older, less durable tyres but had little trouble fending off the challenge from Bottas. The feeling was that Hamilton, Verstappen or indeed Fernando Alonso would not have let Vettel off so lightly.

4. Gasly adds to McLaren embarrassment

McLaren are running out of excuses. Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne could qualify only 13th and 14th on Saturday, effectively ranking the British outfit seventh out of the 10 teams, and despite a small haul of points there can be little reason for optimism.

McLaren have blamed Honda for their recent failings but where did Pierre Gasly's Honda-powered Toro Rosso finish on Sunday? Fourth. Indeed, in only a second race with Toro Rosso, it marked the Japanese manufacturer's best result since returning to the sport in 2015.

5. Mechanic on road to recovery

The sport held its breath on lap 36 following Raikkonen's harrowing collision with one of his own mechanics - and the correct decision by television directors not to show any immediate footage of the incident added to the worry.

But mercifully the mechanic, named as Francesco Cigarini, was pictured giving the thumbs up on Monday after successful surgery on his double leg break. Ferrari have vowed to launch an investigation, while they were also slapped with a £45,000 fine by the FIA.

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