Fighting talk from Ferrari after Vettel wins Bahrain GP
20 April, 2017, 13:44 | Author: Alberta Rodriguez
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 auto and tyre alters.
Up ahead, Vettel managed to steadily increase the gap over Bottas, gaining a lead of around six seconds by the time the race had reached the halfway mark.
"Hopefully that sort of success now in the first couple of races helps us to build up some sort of momentum that maybe these guys (Mercedes) had in the past and the last couple of years, so they will be the ones to beat". The same strategy was adopted by the two Red Bulls as well. Verstappen was the second driver to pit, but was soon sent into retirement, when he rear brakes failed on his out lap, sending the Dutch driver into the wall.
On the next lap Lance Stroll in his Williams and the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz came together to bring out the safety vehicle and start a mad dash for the pits. Mercedes chief Toto Wolff had initially suggested no decision would be taken over a number one driver, but has now hinted Hamilton could be preferred.
Hamilton was now the new race leader, but with more than 20 laps to go, a time penalty still to take, and with Vettel on new tires, it was a precarious lead. The British driver chose to slow down his vehicle during pit entry, in order to give enough time to the crew to attend to his team mate.
The Briton was penalised for unnecessarily holding up Daniel Ricciardo at the entrance to the pitlane at the first round of stops as Mercedes double-stacked under the Safety Car.
Hamilton slowed nearly to a crawl as he entered the pits with Ricciardo behind, resulting in the penalty from the marshalls, which he took at his second pit stop, rejoining in third spot.
"I'm really grateful for giving me the opportunity to drive here in Bahrain".
Bottas, who finished third, behind Hamilton said the tyre pressure problem made the start hard, though he is yet to understand why he struggled so dramatically in his second and final stints.
He passed the Australian on track then served his penalty in his stop, before passing Bottas in the final stint and ending up 6.6 seconds behind race victor Vettel.
Mercedes have won the last three drivers' and constructors' titles but are now facing their biggest challenge of the V6 turbo hybrid era.
Williams driver Felipe Massa finished an impressive sixth, followed by Sergio Perez in the Force India, Romain Grosjean for Haas, Nico Hulkenberg scoring Renault's first points of the year, and Esteban Ocon rounding out the top 10.
Russian Grand Prix is the next race of the 2017 season and will be held between 28-30 April in Sochi.
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