Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel picked up his second victory of the young F1 season in Sakhir, holding off Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton. The win puts him back on top of the driver's championship standings after three races.
Hamilton put in a tremendous late charge in the final laps of the Bahrain Grand Prix to set up a thrilling finish, but it wasn't enough to get past Vettel, as the German registered his second win in three races.
Hamilton's five-second time penalty early in the race for driving too slow in the pit lane may have cost him the race. The Briton, who was more than 10 seconds behind Vettel at one point, was catching the race winner on every lap, but ran out of time.
"I tried my hardest to catch up. We will pushard together, keep fighting," said Hamilton, who added that the penalty was "his fault".
Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, who started in pole position for the first time in his career, completed the podium in third. He was passed twice to let Hamilton pass as the former champion tried to close the gap.
Vettel's second victory puts him back in front in the driver's championship and was his 44th win of his career. Winning in Sakhir is a good omen for Vettel for each of the last five winners of the Bahrain Grand Prix have gone on to win the title.
"It was a really great day," said Vettel. "It was on the last half of the out lap when all the fireworks were going off and I was like 'I love what I do'."
Engine woes continue for McLaren
Stoffel Vandoorne was not able to start the race a year after his F1 debut due to engine problems. McLaren said their rookie, who qualified 17th, had been ruled out with a power unit problem, one similar to those he suffered in practice Friday.
Meanwhile, two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, who started 15th, did not finish the race after having engine trouble in qualifying Saturday. McLaren are last in the standings after failing to register a point in the first three races.
dv/mp (AP, Reuters, dpa)