Sebastian Vettel secured his second win in three races as he did just enough to keep the surging Lewis Hamilton off his heels.
After qualifying third behind both of Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team’s cars, Vettel understood the importance of getting into second as soon as possible, and after positioning himself in Hamilton’s blind spot, Vettel managed to squeeze in front and set about putting pressure on Valtteri Bottas who was leading but sluggish in his drive.
“At the start, it was important for me to get second place, and I managed,” he said. “Also, we got everything right with the strategy.
“We decided to pit early and this tactics proved to be working.”
Vettel was informed by his team with around twenty laps to go that they expected Hamilton to make a late dart to the pits and try his best to come back through the field; they were right.
Hamilton made quick work of passing his team-mate Bottas before he set about taking care of Vettel. In the end, Hamilton’s earlier five second penalty proved costly enough to keep his Silver Arrow at bay.
“Towards, the end, I tried to manage the gap I had over Lewis,” he continued. “I expected him to charge through, of course I was concerned, with all the traffic ahead of me.
“But it the end it was all OK.”
Kimi Raikkonen struggled to get comfortable in his Scuderia Ferrari in Bahrain, but the opposite was true for Vettel who spoke of how good it felt and the early confidence he sensed in its ability. The German seemed to savour the win as he soaked in the atmosphere on his return to the pits.
“The car was like a dream to drive today,” he said. “I felt right from the beginning that we had the speed to win today.
“I had a good feeling yesterday already, and it was just confirmed today. The lap back to pits was so sweet, with all the fireworks around, and I really savoured it.”
Despite this success, Vettel is well aware that the fight continues and nothing much has changed with this one result. For as long as Mercedes continue to challenge on points, Ferrari cannot rest on their laurels.
“Tonight we enjoy the moment, but tomorrow we’ll be back at work,” he added. “I haven’t changed my mind: to become world champion, you must first beat the Mercedes We’ll take it race after race.“