Sebastian Vettel drove his Ferrari to victory
Having secured his first ever pole, Valtteri Bottas made a clean getaway to win the race down to Turn One, although he went defensive onto the inside nevertheless.
His team-mate Hamilton was on the dirty side of the grid and did not move off smoothly, allowing Vettel to put his Ferrari into second place.
Tyre degradation was always going to be the name of the game in Bahrain and Ferrari went aggressive on the two-stop strategy, pitting Vettel before any of the other front-runners.
Everything you need to know about Valtteri Bottas Tue, January 10, 2017
Express Sport brings you everything you need to know about Valtteri Bottas, with the Finnish driver joining Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes after Nico Rosberg's retirement
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Express Sport brings you everything you need to know about Valtteri Bottas
The German proceeded to set vastly faster lap times than Bottas and Hamilton which would prove crucial.
A safety car looked like it might save the Brackely outfit when Carlos Sainz rammed his Toro Rosso into the side-pod of Lance Stroll's Williams.
However, it proved to be something of their downfall. Vettel had already done the damage and made the undercut stick while Hamilton, aware he would have to stack behind Bottas in the pits, slowed ahead of Ricciardo on the way into the pit-lane.
The stewards took a dim view and handed him a five-second penalty.
Lewis Hamilton was always playing catch-up in Bahrain
It meant he was under even more pressure to push the car to its limits in his penultimate stint. With Vettel having pitted earlier, Hamilton had to try to stretch the gap as much as he could or make a one-stop work.
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However, the Mercedes was not able to save the tyres until the end of the race and the Ferrari with fresh rubber was lapping as much as a second a lap faster.
When Hamilton did eventually make his final stop, Bottas was told to get out of the way and the Brit closed the gap to Vettel at a good rate, but it always looked as though it would be too much and it was the German who secured his third win in Bahrain.
"A great day. I just love what I do," Vettel said.
"It was a real team effort.
"Right after the start I could feel that we were quick.
"We wanted to put Valtteri under pressure but he didn't make any mistakes.
"It was a pleasure that I could control the pace towards the end and it was a dream today."