The Bahrain Grand Prix is the'”one that got away‘, according to James Allison, Technical Director at Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport.
Valtteri Bottas qualified in third place, whilst team-mate Lewis Hamilton started in ninth following a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change. This set up a strategic battle in the race, with Mercedes opting to run on the harder compound Soft and Medium tyres whilst race rivals Scuderia Ferrari ran with the Supersoft and Soft tyres.
Their strategy seemed to work as Hamilton was able to fight his way into third place (helped by a retirement from Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen), whilst Bottas chased down leader Sebastian Vettel, who was struggling on older tyres. Despite Vettel’s hampered pace, he was able to hold off Bottas for the win by under seven tenths of a second.
This narrow loss represents a missed opportunity, says Allison, who admits the team now needs to put the defeat behind them and look towards claiming their first win of the season in China.
“This is a Grand Prix that has to go down in the category of “one that got away,” said Allison. “But after a difficult qualifying session yesterday, it was encouraging to see our long run pace was extremely competitive, especially because this is what let us down so badly one year ago at this track.
“We cannot help but wonder what might have been for Valtteri given another lap on Sebastian’s tail, or indeed had Lewis started the race without the handicap of his gearbox penalty. But we must put those speculations behind us and head to China determined to claim our first win of the 2018 season.“