Sebastian Vettel may have made the win look easy at the front in Bahrain, but the defending world champion has admitted that he did not expect to be so strong today.
The Red Bull driver took the lead from Nico Rosberg early on before pulling away from the rest of the field to win the race by around 10 seconds, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean.
“I surely did not expect that. I think it was pretty dominant today, which was certainly not the expectation,” Vettel said on the podium after the race.
The Red Bull driver admitted that he knew he had to get ahead of Rosberg, and that from then on it would be his race to lose.
“It the beginning it was quite tight racing. I knew it was crucial to get in the lead if I could as then I could have a margin to look after and manage the tires from there. I felt I could pull away. Once you settle in, it is difficult to overtake.”
The need to pull away was increased by the high winds in Bahrain, which accentuated the use of DRS.
“There was a strong headwind down the straight so the advantage for DRS was bigger than usual.
“I think we could have had a strong race even if I had not been in the lead immediately. But I preferred it that way for sure.”
The win sees Vettel surpass three-time world champion Jackie Stewart’s total of 27 wins, and he is now just three behind Fernando Alonso and Nigel Mansell, both of whom have graced the top step of the podium 31 times.
Vettel also increases his lead in the drivers’ championship to 10 points, with Kimi Raikkonen currently being his closest challenger. Lewis Hamilton, in third, is 27 points behind the Red Bull.
Gabby Chaves is set to return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International later this month.
The Columbian-American driver, who last competed in IMSA in 2016 – with the DeltaWing outfit – will sub for the injured Joao Barbosa – he hurt his wrist in a cycling accident earlier in June – in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
Chaves will partner Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac.
Chaves expressed gratitude for being asked to fill in, but kept his enthusiasm muted, noting that he is getting the opportunity ultimately because another driver got hurt.
“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao having his injury,”said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”
Chaves added, “I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there. I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”
Chaves’ most recent IMSA event was the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, when he finished seventh in the Prototype class.
The No. 5 Action Express Cadillac currently sits tied with the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr atop the IMSA standings, though Barbosa’s hopes of a driver’s championship are set to take an enormous hit with him missing Watkins Glen.