Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes his team had put itself in with a 90 percent chance of winning the Bahrain Grand Prix and lost out on points that could prove decisive this season.
Sebastian Vettel led from pole position but was unable to pull away from Valtteri Bottas when the lead Mercedes switched to the medium tire at his first pit stop, with Vettel on the soft compound. Vettel had been due to pit again but stayed out and just held off the challenge of the Finn, but Wolff believes it is a race victory Mercedes should not have missed out on.
“The points you don’t make are the ones that decide the championship,” Wolff said. “The drivers’ championship, it’s seven points lost for Lewis [Hamilton] in Melbourne. I don’t think he would have been much better than P3 [in Bahrain]. It was between Sebastian and Valtteri for the race win, Lewis was too far away.
“In the drivers’ championship we lost seven points, in the constructors’ championship we lost seven in Melbourne and seven here so that’s 14 points and that can make a difference at the end.”
And the Mercedes team principal says his team forced Ferrari into a situation that seemed almost impossible for Vettel to escape as he was hunted down on ever-wearing tires.
“We had won the race already after coming out on the medium behind Sebastian with a gap we were able to close down knowing they would need to stop once again or they would run out of tyre if we were to push them. This was the moment where I would say 90 percent probability was on us winning, and we lost that.
“We realized pretty early that the medium was a good tire so we decided to go for the medium and see how it would be on our car, but stick with the option of stopping twice. Valtteri immediately had very good pace. It was clear we could make it to the end on the medium, but there was still a chance Ferrari would do the same.
“This is taking big risks because at the end, Vettel’s car was probably two seconds slower than Valtteri’s so if it had been one or two laps later, he would have lost the race. Would be is not what counts. What counts is the race result. Sebastian and Ferrari won it, very deserved. We adapted to the situation.”