Bottas baffled by Bahrain struggles

The 29-year-old four-time champion came home seven seconds ahead of three-time champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes, who made a late charge for victory after collecting a five-seconds penalty for a pit-lane misdemeanour.

"So yes I see the point, but still it's tough when you're on pole and trying to win a race". "The factory has come alive and hopefully the success in the last few races helps us".

"They did a great job and we have to make improvements". "It didn't start out the best, but the pit lane was really my fault and so apologies to the team for losing the time there", Hamilton said.

"Stint one, we can explain the performance with the tyre pressures being just way too high", Bottas said.

Hamilton will hand over to team-mate Valtteri Bottas for the second day of the test on Wednesday and switches his attention to the Russian Grand Prix at the end of the month, although tyres should have less of an impact there as they did in Bahrain. He did fare better than Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen, however, the Dutch teenager retiring early with brake failure. Then I lost position at the start.

Hamilton would eventually fall short after twice passing Bottas following instructions from the pit wall, even though the Finn out-qualified the three-time world champion on Saturday to prove he has the pace to rival his more successful teammate. "All I can say is that I gave it everything I could".

- Only one of Vettel's five wins for Ferrari has been from pole (Singapore 2015).

In lap 14, a collision between the cars of Lance Stroll and Carlos Sainz prompted the safety vehicle to come out, but the Mercedes cars could not get back on track right away.

But despite arguments over who was actually quickest, it's clear Vettel has the measure of Hamilton, and that Bottas and Raikkonen are fighting for third and fourth places at the moment.

"Valtteri's problem was pretty clear, he was struggling in the first stint and that was clear, and afterwards you just need to have the tyres in the right window and obviously with Valtteri's auto we weren't able to have that".

Both Mercedes drivers used the safety auto incident to pit for new tyres, but Hamilton held up Ricciardo.

Vettel took victory at Bahrain by over six seconds from Hamilton, with Bottas third.

With Hamilton closing what had started out as a 19-second gap by anything up to 1.5 seconds per lap, a grand-stand finish looked in prospect.

"I'm really grateful for giving me the opportunity to drive here in Bahrain".

  • Eleanor Harrison