• Bahrain Grand Prix

Vettel expected tougher challenge from Raikkonen

ESPNF1 Staff
April 22, 2012 « Schumacher hit with grid penalty | Raikkonen disappointed not to win »
Sebastian Vettel held off Kimi Raikkonen on lap 36 but was not required to defend again © Sutton Images

Sebastian Vettel admitted that he wasn't expecting to be able to pull away from Kimi Raikkonen at the end of the Bahrain Grand Prix once the Lotus caught him.

Having led comfortably early on Vettel came under pressure from first Romain Grosjean and later Raikkonen as Lotus displayed good pace. Just before the final pit stops, Raikkonen had a go at passing in to turn one and Vettel defended well, but the race winner admitted that after seeing the pace of the Lotus coming through the field he thought he would come under sustained pressure.

"It was an incredible race, extremely tough even though sometimes we had a decent gap," Vettel said. "But still I think from the start; we had a very good start which was crucial. I was able to pull away immediately and pull away from the pack which turned out to be a big advantage because we always had to go on a new set of tyres as we used nearly all of them yesterday in qualifying. We could see Kimi was getting through; he was very quick, so was Romain. So it was a difficult race but strategy and everything seemed to work and I can only say a big thank you to the whole team and to the boys in the garage.

"I was very happy throughout the whole race to be fair so given the fact that Kimi found a dealership somewhere where he got some new tyres from which allowed him to start every stint on new tyres I think it was extremely tough to keep them behind us! Once he was very close - I thought that he would get more than just one shot but it turned out to be enough. At the end I was even pulling away a little bit and could control the last stint then. So all in all I'm extremely happy and very proud of the team."

Vettel paid tribute to the exciting racing that was being delivered in 2012, pointing out how it wasn't just the outright pace of a car that was deciding results.

"It's a very tight season, cars are very close to each other and small things can make a huge difference on a Sunday. I think we started the season saying that the McLaren is the best car by far, by quite a bit, and we've seen that on Sunday it can be a different picture. I think they still have one of the strongest packages, but as I said you need to get everything right. You need to have the right tyres, you need to treat them right, you need to find the right setup through the course of the weekend so a lot of things to look out for.

"I'm very happy we made it here, we were not quite sure how competitive we would be; I think China was a very good lesson for us to understand the weakness of the car a little bit more. Driving with two different packages, so here we focussed on the new package and pushing that forwards. On a circuit where I think you need a lot of power as well I think Renault did a fantastic job; 1, 2, 3 all powered by Renault so congratulations to them as well."