Sebastian Vettel reveled in his fifth Formula 1 victory for Scuderia Ferrari in Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix, saying the SF70H was “a pleasure” to drive under the lights at Sakhir.
Vettel charged from third place on the grid to beat the Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, with Ferrari’s superior race pace lifting the German to his second win of the year.
“Really great day. Don’t know what to say,” Vettel said on the podium. “It was, the last half of the in-lap when all the fireworks were there and the track was lit up, I just love what I do. I didn’t find any words. It was really great.
“Team effort today, right off the start I could feel that we’re quick, we can have a word. Really tried to put Valtteri under pressure. He didn’t do any mistakes, it was difficult down the straights to get near him, but then we obviously went for the undercut and did the early pit stop, worked fantastic, very good job.”
Vettel feared that the advantage of pitting early and attempting the undercut was lost when the safety car was deployed just three laps later following a crash between Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lance Stroll, handing the Mercedes drivers a chance to take a free stop.
However, an error on one of Bottas’ tires allowed Vettel to emerge ahead of the Finn on-track, moving into a net lead that he would retain through the race on cycle.
“When the safety car came initially I was like ‘not again!’,” Vettel said, having lost the chance to win in China due to a mistimed caution.
“I think I was lucky because the others were just close to the pit lane so they couldn’t really benefit, let’s say. I don’t know. I was a bit surprised when I came out ahead of all of them because with the safety car I thought I might have lost the advantage.
“But after that it was good, the car was really amazing to drive. I had a good feeling yesterday so for many laps I felt it worked well. It was just a pleasure. I could control the pace at the end.”
With two wins and one second-place finish in the opening three races of the year, Vettel has made the strongest start to a season by a Ferrari driver since Michael Schumacher in 2004. Schumacher won each of the first three races en route to a record-breaking title success.