Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Vettel delighted to survive Mercedes ‘checkmate’ move



Vettel delighted to survive Mercedes ‘checkmate’ move

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel kisses the trophy on the podium after winning the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Sakhir circuit in Manama on Sunday night. AFP
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel kisses the trophy on the podium after winning the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Sakhir circuit in Manama on Sunday night. AFP

Vettel delighted to survive Mercedes ‘checkmate’ move

Sebastian Vettel said he feared Mercedes had pulled off a tactical “checkmate” move in Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix, before he hung on for a nail-biting win by six-tenths of a second.

The four-time world champion, who now leads Lewis Hamilton by 17 points in the embryonic 2018 title race after two races, said he feared Ferrari’s gamble on worn tyres would not pay off.

“Them going onto the medium tyre . . . I thought that was checkmate as we had to come in again,” he said. “That was the original plan, but we diverted again and tried to make them last and to nurse them as much as I could. And it worked, but only just.

“There wasn’t much left! Valtteri [Bottas] had a bit of a sniff, but fortunately he ran out of laps so I am really happy.”

As his Ferrari teammate Finn Kimi Raikkonen stuck to his two-stop plan before being forced to retire by a bungled pit-stop that saw a Ferrari mechanic run over, Vettel simply drove on and hoped.

It was his 49th career victory and his second in a row to start the season.

“It put us under a lot of stress and pressure, but we had nothing to lose trying, at that point, to stay out and to win, or finish third,” he said.

“I feel really pleased. If you manage to get the win under these conditions, it tastes even better.

“I came on the radio with 10 laps to go and said I had everything under control – and that was a lie.

“There was nothing under control. When they told me the pace of Valtteri at that time, I said no way I can do that.

“So I did the maths in the car and I thought he was going to catch me.”

Wolff relieved with double podium

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was relieved more than satisfied after seeing Bottas and Hamilton finish on the podium.

Wolff conceded that his team’s relative success came as a result of both Red Bulls and Raikkonen in the second Ferrari being forced to retire.

“We need to stay humble,” he said. “We weren’t great Friday or Saturday, but we take P2 and P3, benefiting from Red Bull and Raikkonen. For me it’s just not great.

“I think it will vary from track to track. The heat is not something we like. We’ll come back strongly in China hopefully.

“Red Bull would have been there with us and Ferrari fighting. That is 100 percent clear in my opinion. Today it was two cars interacting with each other, but next time it could be six.”

The Mercedes chief also said he felt that defending champion Hamilton had not done anything amiss in the early collision with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen that preceded the Dutchman’s retirement.

“I think it was a racing incident. Max dived on the inside, a good manoeuvre, but a bit aggressive,” he said. “I think anyone would have done it and it cost him the race.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Angkor Beer, 30 Years of Prestige and Still Counting

    Let’s celebrate 30 years of prestige with Angkor Beer. In this 2022, Angkor Beer is 30 years old and has been staying with Cambodian hearts in all circumstances. Head of core beer portfolio, EmYuthousaid, “We have been with Cambodians for three decades now. We, ANGKOR Beer, pride

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,