Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel beat the two Mercedes in Bahrain, reassuring president Sergio Marchionne that the Italian team’s resurgence really is true.
“We are now completely confident that our victory in Melbourne wasn’t just a one-off,” he said.
Indeed, Mercedes’ Toto Wolff thinks the silver and red cars are closely matched for ultimate pace.
“I think we are about equal,” he said. “Perhaps over one lap we have a slight advantage, but the Ferrari works a little better with the tyres.”
Still, team chairman Niki Lauda thinks Mercedes could have won on Sunday.
“There were several factors that prevented us from doing more,” he said. “We had a problem in the pitstop, Lewis had the five-second penalty, and Valtteri had too much pressure in his tyres.
“But there is no discussion — Vettel was the best and Ferrari had the best strategy. We seem to have a really exciting world championship,” Lauda added.
And not just that: it seems Red Bull is pushing to make it a three-team battle in 2017 as well.
“I don’t know what happened to them but I was expecting them to be faster in the race,” said Vettel. “It’s great that, unlike the last few years, there is now a fight for victory.”
And that sentiment is echoed up and down the paddock — even by Fernando Alonso, who left Ferrari a few years ago to join troubled McLaren-Honda.
“We are all happy to see Ferrari win,” the Spaniard is quoted by Italy’s Mediaset. “Mercedes was too used to winning so it’s good news to see them (Ferrari) ahead now.”
I feel pain in my heart – Hamilton
Four-time world champion Vettel taking his 44th F1 victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix to go top of the standings, while the man in car 44 [Hamilton] kicked himself for costly errors.
“Over the years, nothing changes in terms of (how) I feel pain in my heart,” said the triple champion.
“People go, like, ‘you finished second, you should be happy’. That’s not what why we exist. So if anyone ever thinks that any driver, or I, should feel happy with second… I don’t know what to say.”
The 32-year-old Briton said he had felt good on the podium, where he was joined by Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, but the mood had changed as the evening wore on and he relived what went wrong.
“Supposed to have a five-second gap and I think I had a four-second gap. Just a misjudgement from myself,” the Brit added.
Not our day, but P2 and P3 is another double podium 💪
Congrats to Seb and @ScuderiaFerrari ! We go again in Sochi 👊
📸 x Etherington pic.twitter.com/icp5HoyzRu
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) April 16, 2017