Vettel Wins Second Race Of The Year For Ferrari At Bahrain

Mercedes Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas.- AFP

Formula One world champions Mercedes have indicated they may increasingly have to favour Lewis Hamilton over new team mate Valtteri Bottas to counter the threat posed by Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.

Lewis Hamilton has apologised to his Mercedes team after he admitted he was at fault for the pit-lane blunder which cost him a shot at victory in Bahrain on Sunday.

This put Bottas in second place, but he then backed off to let the quicker Hamilton through to chase Vettel down.

"Our generator broke on the grid and we couldn't bleed Valtteri's tyres so we were starting with the completely wrong tyre pressures on his auto", said Mercedes chief Toto Wolff. Like here, if you have two cars starting on the front row - if they run second and first, you just have to let them race.

Asked if he expected the rest of the season, and his battle with Sebastian Vettel, to be decided by such fine margins, Hamilton said: "Yes, ultimately that is what it's going to be this year. I try to handle it the best way I can but it eats you up a little inside so you have got to cope with it and move forward".

"The disappointment is there and losing points for a team, when you could have won the race, is defintly painful, but I gave it everything I could".

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits that it was hard to make a call on team orders that favored Lewis Hamilton only three races into the new season.

"When you have a problem on the vehicle, as we had (with Bottas' rear tyres), then it is a situation to consider - to swap them - but with a Ferrari in between, we couldn't".

The safety auto appeared on track after 18-year-old Canadian newcomer Lance Stroll, suffering his third retirement in three races, turned into Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz as the Spaniard left the pits.

Vettel won in Australia, finished second to Hamilton in China and was then first again in Bahrain - a race he won with Red Bull in 2012 and 2013.

Sebastian Vettel thanked his team after the victory.

"It was a really great day", Vettel said.

Mercedes' pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas struggled for pace with a tyre pressure issue on Sunday while it is accepted Ferrari have a general advantage in high temperatures - where the relationship between vehicle and tyre alters. "I don't know what to say".

"The last half of the in-lap (after the finish) when all the fireworks were there and track was lit up, it was "I just love what I do".

Jenson Button must be really looking forward to his Monaco outing.

If we consider the three who ended the weekend on the podium, Vettel made the earliest stop on lap 10 - a clear sign of Ferrari's aim to undercut the slower Mercedes. "I had a good feeling yesterday and after a couple of laps (today) I thought everything was making sense".

Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari was in fourth, while Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull finished in fifth.



Other news