Sebastian Vettel revealed he was convinced Valtteri Bottas would beat him to victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix, admitting he felt he “had nothing under control” in a tense finale. 

Vettel led from pole position and opened up a healthy buffer over Bottas during the opening stint, before Mercedes opted for an alternative strategy to Ferrari, pitting Bottas later than Vettel and putting him onto the medium compound, while Vettel switched onto softs. 

It led to a fascinating strategic battle for the remainder of the race in Bahrain, as Vettel deified the odds to preserve his tyres and pull off an unlikely one-stop strategy, with the Scuderia prioritising track position over fresh rubber. 

Despite being on tyres that were over 30 laps old, Vettel held on to cross the line just 0.6s clear of Bottas and seal his 49th career win in his 200th Grand Prix. 

“I think I came on the radio with ten laps to go saying I had everything under control but that was a lie. I had nothing under control,” Vettel admitted on the podium.

“When they told me the pace of Valtteri at that time I was thinking there was no way to do that. I was making the maths inside the car and with 10 laps to go, that pace, he’s going to catch me. I really tried to keep it as clean as possible.”

The German, who extended his championship lead over Lewis Hamilton to 17 points, said he thought Ferrari had lost the race once he realised Mercedes had moved onto a different strategy. 

“Both Mercedes at the end of the stint were very strong and well I think by going onto the prime they saw what we did by going onto mediums. I thought that was checkmate because we need to come in again.

“That was the original plan and then we diverted and the tyres I tried to make them last and nurse them as much as I can, and it worked. But just. At the end of the straight Valtteri had a bit of a sniff but fortunately he ran out of laps.

“They were on the harder compound, meaning no more stop was necessary for them and it turned out to be a great battle for strategy,” he added. “It put us under a lot of stress and pressure. I think we had nothing to lose by staying out trying to win, rather than finishing third. It worked just, so really pleased. To get the win under these conditions is great.”

 

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