To compound matters further, the defending world champion has been hit with a five-place grid penalty for an unauthorized gearbox change in the Australian Grand Prix, meaning he will start ninth in Bahrain. Kimi Raikkonen's auto hit a team mechanic after a faulty wheel change.
Sebastian Vettel held off Valtteri Bottas during a thrilling Bahrain Grand Prix as he made it back-to-back wins, Ferrari's first since 2010, to continue his flawless start to the new season.
Sebastian Vettel has claimed his second successive win after holding off Valtteri Bottas in a thrilling race at the Bahrain Grand Prix. "These tyres were done - they were done for the last 10 laps". "I was not in control".
"The vehicle feels OK, but we still need to find some pace, especially for a single lap", Bottas said.
"Going into the corner I was ahead and then of course you always try to squeeze each other a bit", said the 20-year-old. Hopefully we'll see more overtaking than at the first round in Melbourne two weeks ago. "It meant that I spent the beginning of the second session searching for the balance of the auto", Verstappen said. Obviously, I don't know what shape he is in. "But it wasn't quite enough".
Verstappen was unable to take part in Q2, which began with the Ferraris out early and Vettel topping Raikkonen before Hamilton, on softs, split them by taking second.
The pitcrew member was tasked with fitting a new left rear tyre to Raikkonen's auto but, following a problem with the removal of the wheel already on it, he was still in position and had not moved when Raikkonen was released.
The mechanic was taken away on a stretcher and is being examined at the time of writing.
Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel celebrated his 200th career start by winning the Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix today.
"A very disappointing weekend", Verstappen said. "A mixed day overall".
Frenchman Pierre Gasly was ninth in his own Honda-powered Toro Rosso together with Fernando Alonso, a three-times victor at Bahrain, rounding out the best 10 in his own McLaren.
Both have won four championships and, this season, are battling to secure an historic fifth title. He was under serious pressure from the faster auto of Bottas, who was on better tires, but did not crack.
Vettel whooped with joy as he crossed the finish line, although his team's celebrations were more low-key than usual following the mechanic's hospitalization.
Drama in the pits, when team mate Kimi Raikkonen was brought in to test the strategy, decided Ferrari in favor of keeping Vettel out.
Ferrari identified a small electrical fault with Vettel's auto after FP3, but he was ready to go again in time for qualifying under the lights at the Bahrain International Circuit.
Ferrari later tweeted that the mechanic, Francesco, had suffered a shinbone and fibula fracture.