Vettel executed a miraculous one-stop strategy to move 17 points clear of Lewis Hamilton in the championship race, but his triumph was marred after team-mate Kimi Raikkonen ran over a Ferrari mechanic.
The mechanic, named as Francesco Cigorini, was taken to a nearby Bahraini hospital on Sunday night with a fractured tibia and fibula on his left leg following the dramatic incident on lap 36.
Raikkonen, who was pitting for a second time, was not at fault for the collision. He was instructed to leave his marks after a green light was issued by his Ferrari team, but his left-rear tyre was yet to be fitted.
In the confusion, Raikkonen mowed down the Ferrari crew member as he pulled away at speed. The mechanic was laid flat out on his back in agony. Raikkonen stopped in the pit lane seconds later and retired from the race.
Thanks everybody for the thousands of messages you sent to Francesco. He had a surgery last night and he is ok. He is now recovering with the best assistance. #ForzaFrancesco #BahrainGP pic.twitter.com/e2j4urBK0g— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) April 9, 2018
Formula One’s sporting federation, the FIA, later fined Ferrari €50,000 for “releasing the car in a manner endangering team personnel and causing injury”.
A Ferrari spokesperson confirmed the mechanic underwent surgery. Ferrari also said that they will launch a full investigation into the harrowing incident.
Unaware of the pit-lane flashpoint befitting of a chaotic race, Vettel held off a late challenge from Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas to win for a second time in as many grands prix.
Meanwhile, Hamilton, who recovered from ninth to third, pulled no punches in his damning assessment of Max Verstappen after branding the Red Bull driver a “dickhead” following a second-lap collision.
The Red Bull driver had sensed blood in his pursuit of the Brit, but his no-holds-barred move cost him dearly.
Verstappen tried to pass Hamilton on the 220mph turn 1 charge before inadvertently colliding with the Mercedes car. Hamilton lived to fight another day, but Verstappen sustained a left-rear puncture which would end his race.