F1 Raceweek: Hamilton and Haas looking to bounce back in Bahrain

Lewis Hamilton will be determined to bounce back from an underwhelming start to the Formula One season as he goes head to head with title rival Sebastian Vettel again in Bahrain.

Vettel came out on top in the Australian Grand Prix a fortnight ago, pitting under the virtual safety car as Hamilton squandered a lead held from pole position.

Mercedes later attributed the failure to win the race to a software bug, but there can be no excuses when the teams return to the track in Sakhir.

The Bahrain Grand Prix has returned to second in the race calendar, having been third in the schedule last year when Vettel was victorious ahead of Hamilton.

The Ferrari driver has won a joint-high three times here, giving him the opportunity to build a lead at the top of the standings early in the campaign in a bid to mount a serious title challenge.

Daniel Ricciardo, fifth in 2017, will also be hoping for a strong weekend after enduring a difficult start in his home race, being punished with a grid penalty that prevented him from reaching the podium.

The 28-year-old later reflected that his Red Bull car feels close to Ferrari's pace and he will relish the opportunity to take on Vettel and Hamilton.

TALK OF THE PADDOCK

While Hamilton suffered disappointment in Melbourne, that paled next to the problems suffered by Haas in the season opener.

Both Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean were retired as a pair of "freak" pit stop incidents saw both drivers released with their wheels not safely attached, having been well placed to return points.

And things have not improved for Haas in the subsequent weeks, with McLaren's Fernando Alonso among those to accuse the team of replicating Ferrari's title-challenging car.

"I know that we are not doing anything wrong," insisted team principal Gunther Steiner in response.

Grosjean, meanwhile, has referred to the car as "one of the best I've driven" and there will undoubtedly be plenty of attention paid to how Haas perform in Bahrain.

STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 25
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 18 (-7)
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 15 (-10)
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 12 (-13)
5. Fernando Alonso (McLaren) 10 (-15)

Constructors

1. Ferrari 40
2. Mercedes 22 (-18)
3. Red Bull 20 (-20)
4. McLaren 12 (-28)
5. Renault 7 (-33)

RACEWEEK SCHEDULE (all times local)

Friday

FP1 (14:00-15:30)
FP2 (18:00-19:30)

Saturday

FP3 (15:00-16:00)
Qualifying (18:00-19:00)

Sunday

Race (18:10)

F1 FACT

Ferrari have not won the opening two races of a season since 2004, when Michael Schumacher triumphed in Australia and Malaysia.

PREVIOUS WINNERS

2017: Sebastian Vettel
2016: Nico Rosberg
2015: Lewis Hamilton

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