Sebastian Vettel has got off to a flying start this F1 campaign with two wins from the opening two races, but he is now also receiving plaudits off the track.
Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne praised Sebastian Vettel by saying he drove like "a real champion" in his victory at Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix, and the omens are indeed good that Scuderia could celebrate it's first driver's title since 2007. The mechanic was immediately attended to by the medical team and was taken to the hospital, while Kimi stopped in the pit lane ultimately retiring from the race.
Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne gave McLaren, now with Renault engines, a second successive double points finish in seventh and eighth respectively to lift the team to third overall. Marcus Ericsson secured Sauber's first points in the season with an impressive drive to ninth ahead of Force India's Esteban Ocon. Hamilton avoided damage, but the same could not be said for Verstappen as he sustained an terminal left-rear puncture.
"Obviously, this is a great way to start the season and it wasn't expected", said Vettel. Verstappen would crawl past his stricken teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who retired from the race with an electrical failure around the same type that Verstappen burst his own tire.
Vettel started on the front row with Raikkonen, and Bottas started third.
Verstappen lunged underneath Hamilton on the 220mph turn 1 charge before inadvertently colliding with the Mercedes auto.
Ferrari triggered its own response by calling Raikkonen in on lap 36 - but it went horribly wrong. A Virtual Safety Car was deployed.
Vettel, Bottas, Raikkonen and Hamilton ran line astern before a strategic chess game ensued.
It is against the regulations for a vehicle to have a mismatched set of tyres, which is why Raikkonen was instructed to stop in the pitlane.
Hamilton now led but Vettel, on the fresher tyres, sailed past on lap 26. He began reeling in the scarlet auto, and as Vettel's tyres began to expire in the final 10 laps, the Mercedes's rate of progress increased to a second a lap. Starting from second place, Kimi Raikkonen looked blazingly fast all weekend, having narrowly missed out on pole himself. Now it all depended on whether the two Ferraris could pull out sufficient gaps to fit in their remaining single pit stop apiece without losing positions to the Silver Arrows.
Unaffected, Vettel pushed to make the most of an emergency one-stop strategy, resisting Bottas all the way to the flag.