Vettel struggles to finish sixth in Bahrain (VIDEO)

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Sebastian Vettel has spoken about his struggles during a difficult Bahrain Grand Prix that saw him finish in sixth place, and lose more ground to the Mercedes drivers in the championship race.

The German driver missed out on Q3 yesterday and started down in tenth place, but a poor start and lack of pace meant that he was never really in the hunt for big points. In fact, sixth was a somewhat fortuitous result for the four-time world champion after a safety car period scuppered Williams’ hopes of a double top-five finish.

“I think it was a busy race today, especially at the end after the safety car, but it’s a shame we couldn’t get further up,” he explained. “Daniel proved that there was a little bit more to get from the car today, I couldn’t really get to that bit, so I’m not so happy with my day.”

Vettel faced the ignominy of being told to allow teammate Daniel Ricciardo past, sparking wry smiles and jokes of “Multi 31”, before being passed on track once again by the Australian driver in the dying stages of the race.

“For some reason we seemed to be really slow on the straights, and not just against the Mercedes,” he said. “Merc has a stronger package, so there’s work ahead of us. It was straight forward with Daniel today, we worked well together as a team and we raced well, but surely I would like to have finished higher up.”

The German driver now trails championship leader Nico Rosberg by 38 points, and will be hoping that the team can rediscover its title-winning form sooner rather than later.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.