Bottas led away from pole position, the first of his Formula One career, but was unable to shake the attention of Sebastian Vettel and the train of cars made up of teammate Lewis Hamilton and the Red Bulls behind. Still struggling with oversteer but much less than in the first one, and then the last stint, again, used the tools I had to adjust the vehicle balance but still couldn’t get the rear end to work.
Eventually the decision was made to prioritise Hamilton but he could not make up the gap to leader Vettel and eventually finished second.
Despite issuing team orders in Bahrain in Lewis Hamilton’s favour, Toto Wolff insists Mercedes will give both drivers “equal opportunity” – at least at the start of the race.
Hamilton had pitted behind Valtteri Bottas, who had started on pole but finished third, and because both Mercedes drivers came in under the safety auto at the same time the Briton had to wait while his team-mate took new tyres.
“I was told there was a problem with the tyre pressures from the start, and that’s why I was sliding around from lap two and Sebastian could put me under pressure”.
“It was completely my fault”.
“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”.
The 32-year-old Briton said he had felt good on the podium, where he was joined by Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas, but the mood had changed as the evening wore on and he relived what went wrong. The auto was really unbelievable to drive and I could control the race in the end. I think there was also some traffic as well because the stop was slow. I was a bit down yesterday because the gap to Mercedes was so big and we could have been a bit closer. I think that’s exciting and I think all of us – and I speak for all of us in that team – need to be operating at our maximum, week in and week out. “I know that gap can not come from driving, so I’m sure we’ll find some reason for why I struggled more than Lewis”.
“The vehicle was a dream today … the last half of the in-lap with the fireworks the track lit up, I just thought I love what I do”, he added.
“You know, honestly, as a racing driver it is the worst thing you want to hear”, said Bottas.
Bottas finished third approximately 20.0 seconds back. I knew what he was doing.
“Ferrari did a better job in Bahrain, so I’m leaving with a bit of a unusual feeling because I don’t know why the pace was so poor”.