Fighting talk from Ferrari after Vettel wins Bahrain GP

Hamilton was the new race leader, but with more than 20 laps to go, a time penalty still to take, and with Vettel on new tires, it was a precarious lead.

Pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas finished in third position, with Kimi Raikkonen crossing the line in fourth. Massa finished sixth behind Daniel Ricciardo, with Sergio Perez delivering an excellent recovery drive from 18th on the grid to seventh.

Romain Grosjean battled through to take eighth for Haas ahead of Nico Hulkenberg of Renault and Esteban Ocon in the second Force India.

Bottas clocked a leading time of 1 minute, 28.769 seconds over the 5.4-kilometer (3.3-mile) track in Sakhir, compared to 1:28.792 for Hamilton.

Formula One's Finns have rarely been guilty of emotional overload, with Ferrari's 2007 world champion and "Iceman" Raikkonen the most famously tight-lipped of a far from loquacious bunch, but Bottas was discernibly happy.

- With two wins and a second position, Vettel has his best start to a season for Ferrari, equalling his best ever in F1 (2011 for Red Bull when he ended up winning the championship).

Surprisingly Mercedes did not bring in either Bottas or Hamilton to cover off Ferrari's strategy, but Red Bull did with Verstappen.

In the third and final practice, Verstappen narrowly beat Hamilton - but the 19-year-old Dutchman could not carry that into qualifying. Hamilton opted to pit for fresh tires on Lap 42, thus serving his penalty before the auto was serviced.

Such a scenario should have allowed Mercedes a free stop but Bottas was delayed in the pits and Hamilton came in slowly to leave a gap before being serviced himself.

The Mercedes team called in both Bottas and Hamilton and the latter slowed in the pit lane ahead of Ricciardo to avoid having to wait behind Bottas in the pits. Bottas, Hamilton and Ricciardo used this moment to pit, but the Brit lost his place due to queueing delays, Ricciardo jumped him in the process. Despite pitting later to serve his penalty and switching to a fresh set of soft tyres, it only helped him get back his second place but not take the win.

Mercedes took the opportunity to pit Bottas and Hamilton from first and second, but in doing so was forced to double stack its cars in the pit lane. You are supposed to have a five-second gap and I think I had a four-second gap.

"I completely understand the decision from the team to request that, and of course I did it".

Vettel admitted after qualifying that the gap to the Mercedes drivers left him feeling "down" as he was happy with his auto, and after taking victory he suspects the good handling of his vehicle played a part in his strong race performance.

Fernando Alonso and teammate Stoffel Vandoorne in the McLaren Hondas were unlucky, both retiring with fuel pressure problems after a particularly good showing by Alonso initially.

He added: "We will regather as a team and come back fighting". Max Verstappen, who was strong in the previous race, did not finish after an issue with his brakes in lap 11. The Briton, who was more than 10 seconds behind Vettel at one point, was catching the race victor on every lap, but ran out of time.

Vettel's win leaves him seven points clear of Hamilton at the top of the championship standings, with Bottas moving into third place, albeit 30 points off the lead.