Saturday, 21 July, 2018

Lewis Hamilton apologises for pit-lane error in Bahrain Grand Prix

Nellie Chapman | 20 April, 2017, 06:03

Hamilton passed Ricciardo and went on to catch up with his team mate, who followed the team orders and let the British driver pass on Lap 29.

A bold early pit stop paid off for Vettel, a week on from a similar strategy in China falling foul of the safety vehicle. "Lewis was a threat towards the end and with the traffic you never know".

Victory in Bahrain saw Vettel open up a seven-point lead in the championship with 17 races remaining.

"We just have to make sure we keep it going. A great job done by Sebastian and this young dude here (Max Verstappen)". Then I had to really take everything out of the tyres and the tyre life was shorter.

Third place in the championship standings now rests with the other Mercedes driver, Valtteri Bottas on 38 points. It was his 11th podium. Sebastian and Lewis were putting on quite a lot of pressure and I couldn't control the race. "I was oversteering all through the race".

Bottas made a clean start but Hamilton was beaten for pace by Vettel, who overtook him heading into the first corner. Him running third, what could've been or what his pace would have been we don't know. I tried to put Valtteri under pressure. "We fight hard against each other but afterwards can have a beer together. I apologise to the team for losing that time there..."

Mercedes by contrast completed 97 laps and Hamilton was fastest on the day at 1min 31.358sec ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi for Ferrari at 1min 31.984sec and Daniel Ricciardo for Red Bull at 1m 32.349sec.

It was 24 degrees Celsius (75 Fahrenheit) with a refreshing breeze when the race started at 6 p.m. local time (1500 GMT) and finished under floodlights. However, the German driver managed to get past Hamilton in turn 1 and then started challenging the race-leading Mercedes.

Hamilton had missed out on a seventh successive pole on Saturday, with Bottas beating him to it. That the margins are so minimal means Mercedes need to act now, believes the former driver John Watson, who raced in F1 between 1973 and 1985.

The safety auto appeared on track after 18-year-old Canadian newcomer Lance Stroll, suffering his third retirement in three races, turned into Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz as the Spaniard left the pits.

Bottas, in three races to date as Rosberg's replacement, does not seem to be at the level required to chase the title and at one point in Bahrain was holding up the quicker Hamilton. Bottas lost time in the pits, coming out behind Vettel.

There was some frantic action behind the leaders, with Fernando Alonso battling it out in midfield.

"It was a odd race for me missing so much pace - it's not so easy for me to explain".

Near the end of the Bahrain GP, Hamilton had good pace on Vettel, but the gap was just too wide and there was the penalty to consider as well.

While Hamilton, and Mercedes, were working on 2017, Vettel was already testing the 2018 tyres on Tuesday before returning to the present rubber on Wednesday.

Hamilton came in with 15 laps left - and took his time penalty.

Lewis Hamilton finished second behind Vettel with Valtteri Bottas in third.

But with Vettel back ahead in the drivers' championship, Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff says his team may reluctantly have to operate differently from now on.