Manama, Bahrain – Sebastian Vettel celebrated Lewis Hamilton’s lucky number on Sunday, the Ferrari driver taking his 44th Formula One victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix to go top of the standings, while the man in car 44 kicked himself for costly errors.
Hamilton, who has been upbeat about the battle of champions and the fight his Mercedes team have on their hands, appeared more subdued as mechanics cleared the paddock.
“Over the years, nothing changes in terms of (how) I feel pain in my heart,” said the triple champion.
“People go, like, ‘you finished second, you should be happy’. That’s not what why we exist. So if anyone ever thinks that any driver, or I, should feel happy with second... I don’t know what to say.”
After three races,
The 32-year-old Briton said he had felt good on the podium, where he was joined by Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, but the mood had changed as the evening wore on and he relived what went wrong.
A five-second penalty for driving too slowly as he entered the pits for his first stop, a move that prevented Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo getting ahead while the Mercedes pair queued up, was his own fault.
“Supposed to have a five-second gap and I think I had a four-second gap. Just a misjudgement from myself,” he said.
“I lost half-a-tenth out of the last corner. I should have easily been on pole,” he said. “Today, I lost position at the start. Solely my fault. Then the time lost in the pit lane. You practise and practise and practise, but you only have 20 opportunities this year and if you mess up, it’s painful.
“There’s no other way of saying it... I try to handle it the best way I can, but it eats you up a little bit inside, and you’ve just got to end up trying to cope and move forwards.”
“It’s small percentages now,” he said of the difference between success and second. “Which I think is what racing should be about.”