Vettel 'forefront' of title chase, says Ferrari boss

Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne believes Sebastian Vettel's Bahrain Grand Prix win is proof that the Italian constructor can take the battle to Mercedes throughout the 2017 season.

The idea was to let them race, and let natural justice be decided on the track at the expense of harmony away from it. A demoralising drought for such a fiercely proud team, certainly, but this year promises to be different.

The three-time world champion finished 6.6 seconds behind victor Sebastian Vettel at the Sakhir Circuit, thanks largely to a five-second time penalty for driving "unnecessarily slowly and erratically" in the pit lane as he tried to prevent Daniel Ricciardo from getting past.

"After a couple of laps, I was on Valtteri's gearbox for the first stint and not falling back too much". It brought an end to their fragile and acrimonious relationship, thus denying Hamilton a chance for revenge this year. Ferrari also managed to ace its race strategy, hence the team's finish.

Eventually the decision was made to prioritise Hamilton but he could not make up the gap to leader Vettel and eventually finished second.

Hamilton had missed out on a seventh successive pole on Saturday, with Bottas beating him to it.

For Bottas, though, the team orders were far from welcome.

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"If you look at 20 races a year ago you could say five or maybe more, there's a handful that weren't flawless but then others were awesome". I try to handle it the best way I can, but it eats you up a little bit inside and you have just got to end up trying to cope and move forward. I just didn't have enough pace today and we need to find the reasons for that.

However, it's disappointing for the team to see Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari take home the race victory.

With clean air ahead of him, Vettel built up what proved to be an unassailable lead and the win puts clear daylight between himself and Hamilton in the title fight - 68 points plays 61 after three rounds.

"The pit lane was really my fault so apologies to my team", Hamilton said.

"I was expecting a lot more personally". But I completely understood it and afterwards we had a chat about it.

Mercedes never publicly declared either Hamilton or Rosberg as their No. 1 driver. "So it needs a proper analysis, what it means and where we are", he said after Sunday's race.

"[With] Sebastian running second, there is nothing we could have done, and that opened up the opportunity for them to undercut us". We owe it to them. "And it's only when the moment comes, you realize if you're not changing anything, you're going to lose the race, that is the moment when you have to make that unpopular call".

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