Lewis Hamilton has “cooled down” after a frantic 2018 Bahrain Grand Prix to be happy with third place, despite seeing his rival Sebastian Vettel take a second win in a row.
Hamilton had suffered from a lack of pace compared to his Scuderia Ferrari rivals across the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend and had qualified fourth. A five place grid-penalty for a change of gearbox saw the reigning champion start from ninth.
Hamilton made contact with Max Verstappen as he fought his way back into fourth in the early stages and his run to the podium was eased when the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen was forced to retire.
“It was not an easy race, but one that I feel quite happy with now that I’ve cooled down,” said Hamilton.
“Today was all about damage limitation and I think to get in the top three is a really great result for the team and for myself. We would prefer we didn’t have the gearbox issue that we had this weekend, but I was really happy with my race pace.
“I had a really good start but I didn’t capitalize on it. I got past a couple of cars off the line and then I went opposite to go on the inside. But the car ahead decided to dive to the right so I had to bail out and had cars pass me on the left, so I fell back on the opening lap.
“In my mind I knew that I had to get past that group of cars very early on. But by the time I did get past them the guys were 15 seconds ahead, so really the race was lost in those opening laps.”
Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas came within six-tenths-of-a-second of the race winner, but Hamilton insists that Ferrari have the early season edge over Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport.
“Ferrari have shown over the last two races that they have the edge at the moment, but it is close and we definitely have to do a better job. Shanghai has always been a good hunting ground for me, so I really hope that we can go there with some strength.”