<
>

Story of the race: Sebastian Vettel reigns supreme, Lewis Hamilton blunders

After Sebastian Vettel won a tense Bahrain Grand Prix, ESPN rounds up the main talking points from the third race of the 2017 season.

Shock: Watching this race fall away from Mercedes after their front-row lockout. There's no doubts about Ferrari's pace any more, and once again putting Mercedes under pressure by doing something different on strategy was key. Lewis Hamilton demonstrated at the end he had the pace to win the race and may well have done with a better start and without a penalty. This one is going to run all the way to the end of the season.

Shocker: Hamilton's hugely costly penalty meant his charge at the end was always a tall order. The Brit can have no-one to blame but himself, slowing needlessly with Daniel Ricciardo right on his gearbox. It was an uncharacteristic error and one he apologised to Mercedes for after the race. Without that penalty he still may have had to pit for fresh tyres but he would have had five seconds less to clear -- a margin he was within touching distance of at the end of the race.

But this unenviable accolade should go to Carlos Sainz -- a man we've come to expect very good drives from. Unfortunately he ended a weekend blighted by reliability issues with a big error, emerging from a pit stop and diving down the inside of Lance Stroll -- who had no chance of seeing the Toro Rosso driver -- and clouting them both out of the race.

Defence of the race: Vettel holding firm under the attack of Valtteri Bottas after the Safety Car restart turned out to be vital to his race. Bottas was all over him at Turn 1 and again at Turn 4 but Vettel stuck to the line to keep the Mercedes behind and from that point on it looked like his race to lose.

Honda watch: Another shambolic day for Honda. One McLaren didn't make the start, the other didn't make the finish. Fernando Alonso was complaining that he had "never" driven a race with such little power in his car. One lap from the finish, Stoffel Vandoorne tweeted a picture of himself on a treadmill. The Honda hole just keeps on getting deeper.

Driver of the day: Another fantastic drive from Sebastian Vettel, who looks every bit the driver we saw dominate the beginning of this decade. Hamilton deserves credit for a ferocious second and final stint, but ultimately his mistake meant this one was always Vettel's to lose -- and the German obliged with a faultless drive to re-claim the outright lead of the championship.