Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021

Verstappen should have won in Bahrain but Hamilton was smarter, says Vettel

2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel praised Lewis Hamilton’s victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix, saying he outsmarted his rival Max Verstappen.

Hamilton ran second in the opening stages of the race, but jumped ahead of Verstappen through the pit stops and resisted pressure from the Red Bull driver over the final laps. Verstappen managed to overtake Hamilton with three laps to go, but left the track while doing so, and had to hand the place back.

“I saw the highlights after the race,” said Vettel, who finished a distant 15th in his Aston Martin. “I think Max was faster, he had better tyres at the end of the race, but Lewis was smarter and drove well and kept his head down and did what he had to do.”

“I think he had, in that regard, nothing to lose and everything to win and he came out and won so it speaks for him.”

Vettel believes Verstappen, who was quickest throughout practice and scored an emphatic pole position on Saturday, should have taken the victory. “Max I think had a chance, he was faster, should have won the race, didn’t win the race and Lewis won the race,” said Vettel. “So I think in that case it’s really Lewis that won the race.”

Hamilton said his close win in the first race of the new season showed Red Bull will be difficult to beat over the rest of the year.

“I had a positive feeling, naturally with the result,” he said. “It was a very difficult weekend for us. It’s clear that Red Bull have started off really, really well and with a great package and Max is driving really well.

“It’s set up for a good season ahead. Of course we don’t know what to expect moving forwards into these next races with different temperatures and different track surfaces but it’s going to be fun one way or another.”

2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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28 comments on “Verstappen should have won in Bahrain but Hamilton was smarter, says Vettel”

  1. I believe the ‘smart’ thing was done previous races showing Verstappen that he and others will be pushed or punted off doing an outside move, which is ultimately why Verstappen didn’t dare hold his line and go for a pass within the lines.

    1. You belief completely ignores the reality that Verstappen was already ahead before he went off-track simply because he carried a little too much speed into the corner, not because he “didn’t dare hold his line“.

      1. @scbriml No. Even race control could immediately see it was a pass off the track that’s how obvious it was as they normally can’t say anything without checking for hours. Verstappen went off there to make sure he wasn’t hit by Hamilton and losing all the points like happened on this track 3 years ago. Max surely also had in mind the damage Hamilton caused to the last doing a pass around the outside like Albon. Verstappen, now in championship mode knew he would have to give a wide berth or get the treatment and risk lose all his points and that’s what he did.

        1. @balou Dude, you’re living in a parallel universe where events don’t match the reality of life here on planet Earth. Have fun!

          1. I agree with @balue, it makes sense. But your argument, not so much.

  2. Says Mercedes powered SV. Just teasing. Kudos to LH but it certainly wasn’t just him that won the race. He truly needed the team as much if not more in that race. LH did put in the laps when it mattered though, and some other stars had to line up…TW’s ‘racing gods’ as he put it. Now it is up to LH/Mercedes to prove it was no fluke, and up to MV/Red Bull to prove it was just their glitches.

    1. @robbie sure a 96 times Grands Prix winner still needs to prove to you that winning a race is ‘no fluke’! I never…….

      1. @blackmamba No need to get your knickers in a knot. I was obviously speaking under the context that RBR had the faster car, and that TW cited needing ‘the racing gods’ on their side to win that race. But of course you would ignore the compliment I offered up to both LH and the team, and that I have said RBR has something to prove yet too. Like a snake, you seem to hide away just lurking under a rock and then strike out the instant you sense the slightest movement coming near your mate, without even seeing the compliments such are your blinders.

  3. Hm, I thought it came down to tyre strategy with Merc taking the advantage, but made for a hell of an end of the race!

    1. @nanotech Of course it was. With Verstappen alone with 2 Mercedes it was the usual strategic advantage that won the race.

      1. And Hamilton driving a better race than Verstappen who didn’t win in the faster car.

        1. There’s no evidence red bull had a faster race pace than mercedes, even if you go back and look at the testing long runs, the reason verstappen was catching up in the end were the newer tyres.

          1. @esploratore there is plenty of evidence that suggested the Red Bull was the faster car that race weekend overall, you frankly must be in denial if you refuse to accept it. Verstappen had more than enough pace in hand to overtake Hamilton and just blew his opportunity. It was a conscious choice by Red Bull to drive as slowly as they did to catch Hamilton as they wanted to protect their tyre advantage rather than cut the gap quickly but have their huge tyre advantage cut.

        2. @slowmo No, the Red Bull couldn’t pull away when it mattered in the first stint to prevent the undercut. The Mercedes easily kept up and could then do the undercut with no 2nd Red Bull in the way.

          1. @balue that’ll be because Hamilton was driving his slower Mercedes faster and getting more out of his equipment than Verstappen who was lets not forget 4 tenths quicker in qualifying and also significantly quicker later in the race.

            I think it’s also fair to highlight Hamilton was probably pushing harder on his tyres in that first stint than Verstappen because he had no intention of keeping them alive for a extra 10 laps like Verstappen did in that first stint. So that first stint pace meant pretty much nothing.

          2. @slowmo All wrong. Red Bull and Verstappen would never stay in undercut range if they could help it, it’s a given fact. Red Bull has since confirmed Mercedes was faster than them on the mediums (which we even saw in Q2)

            And the qualifying gap was not really 0.4s. It was just that big because Hamilton drove a poor qualifying (which he apologized to the team for), and Verstappen nailed the lap.

            Red Bull was only faster later on in the race because of new tyres, the real gap on the hards was nothing. And on the hards, Bottas was faster than Hamilton.

          3. @balue Nope you’re wrong.

  4. Glad to see Sky on the free to air F1 Show play an uninterrupted high view from the inside of turn 4 of the complete Max overtake. You can see exactly how much room Ham gives Max.

    1. Yes, it’s funny how the only people that suggest Hamilton forced Verstappen off are the ones that either wanted to see Verstappen win or Hamilton lose.

      The fact that neither Verstappen nor Red Bull said a word about “being forced wide” tells you all you need to know.

      1. @scbriml I actually wasn’t aware that anyone within or without F1 was claiming LH forced Max off.

        1. Not within F1 (and certainly not Verstappen nor Red Bull), but there were plenty of Verstappen fans who claimed, across multiple F1 sites, that the only reason he went wide was “because Hamilton forced him off“.

          1. @scbriml Fair enough. Huge Max fan here and I immediately knew that was not on, and didn’t think LH did anything wrong and thought it was pretty obvious.

  5. That move decided the race so it was down to Hamilton. The team put the bat in his hand but he was the one that had to swing.

  6. Bah, the drivers had little to do with it. It was 100% a strategy call by Red Bull to try leave Verstappen out longer, they should have pitted him when everyone expected him to and tried to beat Hamilton coming out of the pit stop or in the couple of laps after.

    Or moreso Red Bull should have pulled their tyres out of the garage the exact second Mercedes did. They were caught napping and hence the result.

    It’s so frustrating to see so much of the result regarded as a Hamilton master strike.

    1. stroke* (oh how I long for an edit button.)

    2. @tristan it was both a team amd driver master effort.

    3. You knew why is RBR isn’t pit Max a lap after Lewis did pit is Hamilton out-lap rightly after he released from pit already made him ahead Max pit windows. It meant RBR already lost track advantage after a lap.

  7. Ah, another sign Vettel will retire soon. He is already nostalgic towards the old generation… good… make way Seb, that seat can go to someone who actually will do something with it

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