Sebastian Vettel admits he struggled to find a rhythm after a tough run to fifth in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Vettel started second, but made a series of off-track excursions which cost him badly, with a run wide at the final corner after his second stop dropping him behind Nico Rosberg.
The off damaged his front wing, requiring a third unscheduled stop for a fresh nose, which dropped him to fifth, behind Valtteri Bottas, where he ultimately finished.
“It didn’t seem to be the perfect day for me,” he said. “I couldn’t get into the rhythm and lost positions when it mattered not to lose them for the final result.
“In general, I struggled a bit with the rear end and exiting the corners, which made me vulnerable to Nico’s attacks and prevented me from getting as close as I needed to Valtteri to chase him down the straight with DRS. Towards the end, I was struggling to get past in the fight against the Williams.
“When it was important to be quick, I always seemed to get stuck in traffic, and thus damaged my tyres. Overall, though, I think it has been another very positive weekend.
Vettel was left to lament a potential lost podium after his trip across the run-off at the final corner.
“It’s a shame I damaged the front wing in the race and I had to come in for a new nose, otherwise I think fourth place would have been secured, or even third. Anyway, that’s how it went.
“I was trying to push, and when you’re following another car you obviously lose a lot of downforce. With hindsight, it was probably more than I expected. I think I tried a bit too hard and ran wide.
The four-time champion congratulated team-mate Raikkonen, who came home second to record his first podium since 2013.
“I am very happy for Kimi,” Vettel said. “It’s good that he was able to pass Nico towards the end. For the team, it’s obviously a great result.
“It’s a long way to go for the season and up to this point we can be very, very happy. It’s still a big surprise how good we are but there’s still a bit of a gap.”
Image courtesy of Scuderia Ferrari