Vettel revels in Bahrain win, makes best start for Ferrari driver since Schumacher

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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.

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”