“Honestly, to get back to second it’s huge for us and I will definitely take it, of course, and I’m happy with the drive that I did”.
Hamilton secured pole 24 hours earlier, but his getaway here was slow and it was not long before Vettel had passed the Brit for the lead with Bottas following suit.
More frustration followed on Turn Three when Raikkonen locked up and crashed into Hamilton, leaving the reigning World champion to rejoin the contest in 18th position.
The Australian did not have the use of the DRS on his first run, which team principal Christian Horner attributed to a glitch with the system the governs when it can and cannot be used.
That triggered a safety auto on lap 32 of 52 and Ferrari reacted by pitting Vettel but Mercedes told Bottas to stay out and claim track position.
Vettel leads Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton by a single point after nine races. “I guess I wanted to give a boost to England”, he said.
All the leaders would pit for the Medium compound based on Kimi’s pace, but Hamilton would wait for several laps before stopping in the hope of making up places later on. Vettel pitted from the lead, but Bottas stayed out, to lead on lap 34, as did Hamilton.
This prompted the deployment of a Virtual Safety Car (VSC) after which Vettel took over on top of the times on softs, the two Mercedes men having remained in their garage at that time.
When Hamilton and Mercedes’ comments were put to Vettel and Raikkonen in the post-race press conference, the duo ruled out any malice. “I kept fighting – that’s how it goes”.
After the Sauber wreckage was cleared, the race resumed only for Romain Grosjean to collide with Carlos Sainz at the high-speed Copse corner.
Bottas actually defended against Vettel fairly well around lap 42 when the Ferrari started getting into striking distance.
Raikkonen was adjudged to have been at fault with the stewards meting out a 10-second penalty.
Vettel entered the race one point ahead of Hamilton in the drivers’ championship standings.
Although frustrated by the first period of the race, Wolff said Mercedes did the right thing in not pitting during the first safety auto period, even though it left Valtteri Bottas exposed in the lead as other drivers took fresh tyres. In fifth place finished the race Daniel Riccardo from “Red bull”, but his teammate and the victor of the last stage in Austria, Max Verstappen to the finish line is not reached.
The Australian would go on to try and fight Bottas but couldn’t get close enough on the straights to make a move.