Sebastian Vettel’s Bahrain victory didn’t come as easy as some of his past successes as the German had to overcome a strong challenge from the Lotus Kimi Raikkonen.
In the end the final tyre changes proved crucial, as RBR pulled off a quick stop and Vettel put in some quick early laps on his last set. Both drivers had new prime tires for that stint, so the Finn no longer had the advantage he enjoyed earlier in the race, when he fresher tyres.
The win was an impressive demonstration of the strength of RBR after the team bounced back from a disappointing early start to the year.
“I think we had to work extremely hard in the first couple of races,” said Vettel of his win. “We were not where we wanted to be so therefore I’m extremely happy that we had a much better weekend here. Friday morning, the first time I went out, I felt much happier with the car balance, so I think we found a reasonable package that seemed to work on this circuit pretty well so all in all, I’m very pleased.
“I think I owe this one to the team, to the boys. As I touched on, they’ve been working so hard, giving them an extremely hard time here at the circuit, back in the factory, we all try to find the best configuration. I don’t want you to look in the back of our garage, it’s pretty busy and pretty messy: a lot of work, a lot of parts. So we try to get the best package together.”
Vettel said his weekend had gone pretty much gone to plan.
“As I said, very good yesterday in qualifying and today in the race obviously crucial to get a good start. Then I was able to pull away by three or four seconds immediately which turned out to be crucial. By the time Romain got past Lewis I think he had more or less had the same pace. At the end of the stints I think we were a little bit superior and then yeah, second stint pretty much the same.
“Kimi always had new tyres so we knew he would be a danger until the last lap. Again, obviously in the beginning trying not to lose too much. I think especially that second-last stint where we were on option tyres, Kimi was on a new prime tyre, so it was difficult. I thought he would make his way past pretty easily.
“I tried to defend, one time it was really close and after that it seemed that he was running into the same kind of problems with the tyres and we were able to… not pull away but we could open a bit of a gap. So yeah, a very, very tight and difficult race.
“Obviously not too busy in terms of overtaking and wheel to wheel racing for me, but I knew that every single corner would be crucial with no mistakes allowed. I kept the car on the track at all the time which was a help and yeah, great result and very, very happy.”
Vettel said the season is very hard to predict: “I think it’s obviously very good to watch. I think those four races have been extremely tight. We had one race where it was pretty chaotic, in Malaysia, with rain etc so up and down. Small things can make a big difference over the weekend – how much tyres you might have left, lap one, gear ratios you might pick, whether DRS is effective or not and you can come back.
“I think it was a different race here compared to the last race where we had people running in a chain and not being able to pass or not being able to pass too easily. All these things make a big difference and temperature-wise, all four races were very different. Track layouts were different so I’m not surprised that we have a different result every weekend.”