Sebastian Vettel won with Scuderia Ferrari, but at the moment, the thoughts of everyone in the team are with the mechanic who was injured during Kimi Raikkonen’s pit stop, the Finn stopping and retiring immediately after in pit lane. As for the Grand Prix, it was closely contested right down to the final corner and the win came courtesy of a well thought out strategy and the abilities of the driver who managed to make a set of Soft tyres last 38 laps no less, on a track that is one of the hardest on tyres.
Vettel took his 49th win in his 200th Grand Prix start. He’s the fourth driver to win on the milestone, following Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button
As the mechanic – later confirmed to have suffered a shinbone and fibula fracture – was tended to, Raikkonen was instructed to stop the car just metres from his pit box, after what was his second unsafe release of the weekend, following on from the one in practice.
Sebastian Vettel: “Obviously, this is a great way to start the season and it wasn’t expected. Obviously Australia was a different race and if you compare these two races, here we had the pace and won on our own. So, I think it’s been much better, but it was a very tough race. It took a while for the adrenaline to go, but for the next week we are not sure where we are going to be. It is difficult to predict with everything changing so much. In China it will be a different track and a different challenge, but we have to improve our car and work on it. We still need to improve the balance. However, if we should have a similar feeling like here, then I think we should be in a good shape. We were losing a little bit at the end and Bottas was getting closer. We couldn’t wait and see what he was doing. So, in response to that we had to come in first to protect the track as much as I could. We had targeted two stops and that’s why we had chosen Soft tires. But then we had to change strategy; the tires were already wearing out, but then it seemed everything was ok. But after 10 or 12 laps, the tires got worse and the last five laps were very tricky. It feels better winning here than in Australia, because here we had the pace. So, I am very happy, even though it’s sad to see one of our guys getting injured. I wish him to get well soon, I know he’s in very good hands now.”
It was so close in the end, it’s a shame I couldn’t win. When it’s so close, you start to think about every lap and every corner after the race, trying to figure out if there is something you could have done better. But I feel like I did a good race, I didn’t make any mistakes and I gave it everything I had. I didn’t try the Medium tyres before the race, but it went well and we managed to do a really long stint. Only in the last three laps I started to struggle with the tyres and once I got close to Sebastian everything got more difficult. The pace today was better than expected so that we could put some pressure on Ferrari. It’s very close and it’s going to be an interesting season. We still have work to do, especially for conditions like here in Bahrain. I think we can see some positives, but the main thing for us is to really learn from this weekend.
It was not an easy race, but one that I feel quite happy with now that I’ve cooled down. 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 dice 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. 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.