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Bahrain GP: Post Race press conference


Podium Interviews - Conducted by David Coulthard

Sebastian, you had to work for that one!
Sebastian Vettel: Yeah, I think I came on the race with about 10 laps to go, "I have everything under control". I don't know if they broadcast that. That was a lie; there was nothing under control. When they told me the pace of Valtteri at that time, there was no way I could do that. I was making the maths inside the car with 10 laps togo, at that pace, he's going to catch me! I tried to keep it as clean as possible. Both Mercedes at the end of their stints were very strong, already in the first one. I think by going onto the prime... obviously they saw what we did, but going onto to the medium tyre, I thought that's check mate, because we had to come in again. That was the original plan, but then we diverted obviously, and the tyres, I tried to make them last, nursed them as much as I can, and it worked. But just! There wasn't much... I guess at the end of the straight for Valtteri, he had a bit of a sniff, but fortunately he ran out of laps, so very happy.

Well, it's great - your 49th victory from your 200th start. I'll just bring Valtteri in here: so give us the mind set inside the car? You're hunting him down, so you've got the gap within DRS, what were you saying in your mind as you got up close to the Ferrari gearbox?
Valtteri Bottas: I was seeing red.

I get that! There was a lot of red. You just ran out of laps there, but the emotion in the cockpit?
VB: Yeah, you know, I knew that because we were on the harder compound that he would struggle in the end, and he started to struggle, so I was just trying to get every corner perfect, every lap perfect, trying to catch him, but it was just not quite enough. But you are focusing on making everything perfect.

So, Seb, you feel you had him completely under control, you were making a race of it?
SV: Yeah, well, as I said, obviously coming out I knew we would have quite a gap because I pitted one or two laps sooner but then I wasn't sure what they were on about. As I said, they were on the harder compound, meaning there is no stop necessary for them and it turned it out to be a greater strategy - it put us under a lot of stress and pressure. I think we had nothing to lose at that point, trying to stay out, trying to win, or I guess finish third. It worked - just. So, really pleased. If you manage to get the win under these conditions it tastes even better, so really happy.

Quick message to Seb for next time. Are you going to get him? You can look him in the eye, you don't need to look at his gearbox.
VB: Well, you know, being second with such a close margin and having good pace at the end is extremely disappointing, so for sure I will try to get them next time.

OK, well done. Lewis, congratulations on the podium, difficult weekend. We heard you frustrated in the car, there were some radio communication issues. We could hear what you were saying, but somehow your team couldn't. Talk us through that. You should be happy with a third place, but you seem a bit disappointed?
Lewis Hamilton: No not at all, I'm happy! Firstly, congratulations to Sebastian and Valtteri did an exceptional job this weekend. I'm really happy to have... I started ninth, so third is not bad at all. It's damage limitation. I think there were some frustrating points during the race where they couldn't hear me, so I had to choose particular points during which I could speak to them. So communication was really difficult. When you're trying to catch Sebastian who was 25 seconds ahead, to know exactly what you need to do in order to not kill your tyres but make it so that you can catch him at the end, it's difficult and if you're not getting that feedback, it makes it kind of frustrating.

Quick message to your fans here?
LH: Big thank you to ebveryone in Bahrain, all the British flags here, thank you for coming out and supporting us, I appreciate it.

Seb, coming back to you, leading the championship. I think we have to go back to something like 1982 since the guy that won the first two races of the season didn't win the championship. You're all about stats...
SV: Well, they had less races in 1982, so probably... I don't believe in all those things. Sometimes they work for you, sometimes against you. It doesn't matter - we won and it's a great feeling tonight. Bit sad, because I think in the pit stop with Kimi one of our mechanics got injured, so send him the best regards, I'm sure the guys are looking after him. Overall, a mixed day, knowing that, then one car retiring, but fortunately we managed to stay ahead of those two.

Press Conference

Q: (Louis Dekker - NOS) Lewis, I believe, if my ears are correct, you used the word 'dickhead' after the race concerning Max Verstappen and the overtake and the contact. Is that correct? And more importantly, is there an opinion you have on the contact you had with Max in the beginning stages of the race? Who was wrong, or was it just a racing incident?
SV: Can I answer that question?

SV: I think it's not fair... I mean, I don't know what Lewis did. We've all been in that situation, we fight someone, we go sometimes wheel-to-wheel, it's close and you have a lot of adrenalin going, do you think comparing to football, if you have a microphone on a football player's mouth, that everything he says is something nice and is a nice message when the guy tackles him and maybe sometimes he fouls him or not. So I don't think it's justified to give us these kind of shit questions and making up a story out of nothing, if we are just racing and we are full of adrenalin and sometime we say these things. I mean if I hit you in your face, you're not going to say "oh, Sebastian, that wasn't nice". It's a human reaction. Sometimes I feel it's all a bit blown up and artificial if we have these questions, trying to make a story out of nothing. So, it's not personal, don't take it personal. So I think we should cut it right there, so now if Lewis can answer.

I'll just apologise for any colourful language in Sebastian's answer there. Now over to you, Lewis.
LH: Honestly, I don't really remember it. I think maybe it was when we were talking afterwards? Ultimately, I had a coming together with Max and it was an unnecessary collision. There needs to be a certain respect between drivers and ultimately... maybe I need to go and watch the manoeuvre again, but it didn't feel like a respectful manoeuvre, but ultimately it was a silly manoeuvre for himself, because he didn't finish the race. And obviously he's tending to make quite a few mistakes recently, so it was just unnecessary for him to do that. I can't really remember at what stage of the race it was or why we were even in that position, but yeah, I don't really care to be honest.

Q: (Heikki Kulta - Turun Sanomat) Valtteri, after Australia, does this result put your championship fight in the balance or would you have needed that victory?
VB: It's difficult to say about the balance in terms of championship, title fight because it's only race two out of 21 so obviously, I got some points today but Sebastian, who's leading the Championship definitely got more points. It's early days - but anyway a lot better than two weeks ago. And even today, the race pace we had was actually slightly better than we expected coming into today. So, that was positive. I think this weekend has really opened up our eyes in terms of how much we still have work to do with the car in certain conditions. It's really fast - but like yesterday we could spot some weaknesses of the car and even today. It's been an important weekend. We need to make sure we keep improving those negatives we have to Ferrari.

Q: (Scott Mitchell - Autosport) A question for Sebastian. Do you think that the performance for this weekend is... how much of it is down to improvements that you've made with Ferrari and how much is it maybe not quite being at the same level as in Australia.
SV: It's a difficult one. I can't speak for them but I think it's always a combination of things. You try to put so many things together and sometimes you succeed more than other times. I think probably the circuit came our way. I think mostly the fact I had a better feel with the car, we worked on the setup helped us to extract more. It was more consistent on one lap but also in the race. So, I felt just healthier and more in control. So, as I said, how much they struggled, I don't know. I think they looked pretty handy at the end of the stints, at least, and in qualifying the gap wasn't massive. So, I think overall it's been close but obviously, it's good to be just ahead.

Q: (Arrackal Alexander - Gulf Auto Zone) Congratulations on the win. My first question to Vettel is: what have you to say about the car you won with and going into Shanghai are you confident with this car. The second question is to Bottas, it is you had a problem coming in where you almost caught up with him and there was a lot of smoke coming out through the front. What exactly was that? And did it have a problem. Did it have anything to do with being in second. And third one to Lewis Hamilton. Coming in from ninth and going all the way up to third congratulations - but what happened to the car and what one gathers from your conference earlier there was some problem with communication. What did that have to do with just coming in third, and what are your plans going into Shanghai?
SV: You start, otherwise we won't remember.

LH: That was a long question. Communication, it was just the helmet radio so they could hear wind but they couldn't hear my voice. Obviously, there's turbulence in the car, that's what they could hear rather than my voice. So, that's an area we need to improve - but it's not always the case. Just must have been something busted this weekend. Yeah, luckily we go from here with good points still and a good finish. I'm really, as I said, happy with third but going into Shanghai, it's a good track for me in general. So, I'm hoping to turn the tables a little bit that weekend - but it's going to be obviously hard. The Ferrari's have shown incredible pace the last couple of races, so yeah...

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