Vettel leads in Bahrain practice, Hamilton trails

The three-time world champion was in no mood to look for excuses and admits he was fully to blame for his failure to exert pressure on Vettel. "I think the middle stint for us was crucial staying ahead after the safety vehicle, and then getting some really good and consistent laps in on the super-soft tyre".

Hamilton's new Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas finished third, after starting from his maiden pole position, ahead of compatriot Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari and fifth-placed Australian Daniel Ricciardo.

Bottas made a clean start but Hamilton was beaten for pace by Vettel, who overtook him heading into the first corner. Hamilton was catching the German on every lap but ultimately ran out of time and finished nearly seven seconds behind. Vettel then forged a healthy lead after which even a late charge from Hamilton did nothing to squash the Ferrari's hopes for a podium finish.

Hamilton, now seven points adrift of Vettel, will return to the cockpit today for the first of this week's two-day test in Bahrain.

A safety vehicle two laps later only worked in the Ferrari driver's favour as, pitstop out of the way, he jumped into the lead as the other cars streamed in.

Garcia, Rose share Masters lead
Spieth said he needs some time to regroup. "There's nothing that says I'm going to play bad or that I should play bad". Other holes at Augusta National are more famous and adorn artwork but few are more hard than the par-4 first hole.

Hamilton will have the chance to make up for his mistake in Bahrain during the fourth race of the 2017 Formula One season, which will take place in Sochi at the Russian Grand Prix on April 30. If anyone ever thinks I should feel happy with second, then I don't really know what to say. But a slow stop for the Finn forced Hamilton to back off to buy himself some time, in the process baulking Red Bull's Ricciardo for which the triple champion collected a five place time penalty.

"Ferrari did a great job, but we are going to push hard together - re-gather as a team - and come back fighting". Hamilton should probably have taken pole but made a mistake at Turn 10 on his final qualifying lap, allowing Bottas to do so for the first time in his career.

The team won all but two races last season but are no longer dominant in a championship that has for the past three years been an internal battle. Losing points for a team, particularly when you could have won the race, is definitely painful but I gave it everything I could. Vettel pitted soon after, while Hamilton led the race.

Vettel completed the 57 laps of the 5.4-kilometer (3.4-mile) track in 1 hour, 33 minutes, 53 seconds, for his third win in Bahrain after success with Red Bull in 2012 and 2013. Force India's Sergio Perez (+62.606s) was seventh and Haas's Romain Grosjean (+74.865s) rounded out the top eight.

Watch the highlights from the 2017 Bahrain Grand Prix.

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