Daniel Ricciardo scored 10 valuable points for the team with a measured drive at the Sakhir Circuit, but the Bahrain Grand Prix bit Max Verstappen, with the Dutchman failing to finish after a rear brake pressure issue saw him slide into the barriers after just 11 laps.
When the lights went out at the start, Max, sixth on the grid, made a lightning quick getaway to fly past Ferrari's fifth-placed Kimi Raikkonen. Ahead, Daniel's chances of progress were stalled by Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton who made a slow start. With Max drawing alongside, Daniel was blocked from moving to a wider line and the Dutchman stole into fourth place ahead of his team-mate. At the front meanwhile, polesitter Valtteri Bottas kept his lead but Sebastian Vettel had made a good start to get past Hamilton.
The opening 10 laps of the race were extremely tight, with just three seconds separating the top five, and eventually Ferrari made a strategic gamble, pitting Vettel for a replacement set of supersoft tyres on lap 10. Max was quickly on the radio asking for a similar attempt at an undercut and on the following lap he, too, pitted.
However, almost as soon as he emerged from the pit lane he was off track, locking-up under braking and sliding straight off into the barriers at Turn 4.
Moments later there was more dramas as Carlos Sainz and Lance Stroll collided in Turn One, bringing out the Safety Car. Race leader Bottas pitted and Vettel moved into first place. Mercedes opted for a stacked pit stop, with Hamilton heading for the pit lane to queue behind his team-mate, but the Briton slowed dramatically, backing up Daniel who was also headed for a tyre change while the SC circled.
• Daniel starts fourth and finishes fifth.
• Max suffers first DNF since US GP in 2016
• Team now has 47 points in the Constructors' Standings.
• Sebastian Vettel wins race for Ferrari
The incident was noted by the stewards and eventually led to a five-second penalty for Hamilton, who was punished for driving unnecessarily slowly in the pit lane.
When the leading quartet emerged, supersoft-shod Vettel led from the similarly equipped Bottas, while Daniel and Hamilton, both now on softs, were in third and fourth respectively. Daniel was struggling for pace on his new softs, however, and he was soon passed by Hamilton, Massa and Raikkonen.
At the front, Vettel began to eke out a gap to Bottas and by lap 26 the German had 4.8s in hand over the Finn and a second more over Hamilton. On lap 27, though, Hamilton surged past Bottas to claim P2. Daniel's tyres, meanwhile, were coming to life. Raikkonen had passed Massa and on lap 29 Daniel did the same, breezing past the Brazilian under DRS and under braking through Turn One.
Daniel made his final stop on lap 39, for supersoft tyres, and now equipped with the quickest compound set off on what has become a trademark late-race blast. He began to close on fourth-placed Raikkonen but the Ferrari driver appeared to have matters under control. As the race wore on Daniel's pace faltered and he eventually finished more than 16s behind the Finn in fifth place.
At the front, Vettel took on a final set of soft tyres on lap 34 and then began to catch Hamilton who had inherited the lead. The Briton then made his final stop, again for softs, on lap 42. Emerging nine seconds behind Bottas and 19 behind Vettel, the Mercedes driver began to scythe into the gap, first dismissing Bottas and then lapping up to 1.5s quicker than Vettel.
The German, though, was comfortably in control, managing the pace and threading his way through traffic with minimal effort to take his 44th career win with 6.8s seconds in hand over the Mercedes driver. With Bottas third ahead of Raikkonen and Daniel, sixth place went to Massa. Force India's Sergio Perez put in a great performance to rise from P18 on the grid to seventh at the flag. Romain Grosjean was eighth for Haas ahead of Renault's Nico Hulkenberg and the final points position was taken by Esteban Ocon in the second Force India.
OUR RACE IN NUMBERS:
- 4 – Bahrain points finishes in a row for Daniel with Red Bull Racing (P4, P6, P4, P5).
- 47 – points for the team in the Constructors Standings.
- 5 – races since Max's last DNF, at the 2016 US Grand Prix.