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Sebastian Vettel: Beating Lewis Hamilton into Turn 1 'crucial' for Bahrain win

Sebastian Vettel says a "crucial" moment in his Bahrain Grand Prix victory was splitting the Mercedes drivers at the start by getting ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

Mercedes locked out the front row on Saturday, with Vettel a distant 0.4s off Valtteri Bottas' pole time. With strong long-run pace evident during Friday practice a fast start seemed vital for Ferrari and Vettel obliged, passing Hamilton around the outside of Turn 1 to claim second position early on.

Vettel then sat between the Mercedes drivers for the opening stint before peeling into the pit-lane for his bold early stop on lap 10, though he thinks the start was as important as Ferrari's strategy call.

"It was crucial for us to get between them to not allow them to get in front and pull away and do their thing - upset them a bit," Vettel after the race. "We all had more or less the same start, and Lewis stuck with Valtteri so I could take a risk under braking and get the move done [around the outside of Turn 1].

"After a couple of laps, I was on Valtteri's gearbox for the first stint and not falling back too much. It was a good start -- pace was key today to win. In the final stint we had quite a decent gap, plus the safety margin of Lewis's penalty. I tried to control the gap -- he was very fast when he came out, I expected him to be quicker but not that quick!"

The German admits the win removed any question-marks over Ferrari's pace after a below-par showing in qualifying.

"It wasn't very good yesterday and I was a bit down because the gap was so big. I think we could have been a bit closer. But something inside me told me we had a good car and we can do well. So yeah, right from the first lap I felt the car was there.

"I think the Easter Hunt was on! They were hiding some eggs, but it looks like we found them today!"