Valtteri Bottas believes Mercedes would have “deserved” victory at the Chinese Grand Prix had it not been for the unfortunate timing of the safety car mid-race.

Bottas, who started third on the grid, elevated himself into second-place on the opening lap and found himself in a two-way scrap with race leader Sebastian Vettel for first position during the early phase.

Mercedes pitted Bottas earlier than the four-time world champion to try and undercut the Ferrari, the Italian outfit crucially left Vettel out a few laps longer, which allowed the Finn to take over the lead of the grand prix thanks to a series of quick outlaps.

However, a safety car for debris at Turn 14 halted Bottas’ chances to control the pace at the front and was deployed too late for Mercedes to pit him for fresh tyres.

Red Bull were able to make the most of the safety car period to double-stack both of its drivers, with Daniel Ricciardo launching an assault on Bottas for the lead at Turn 6 heading into the final stages of the race – leaving the Mercedes driver ‘disappointed’ to see victory slip out of his grasp.

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“The race was going pretty well for us, we were looking strong and until the safety car stop,” said Bottas. “Then we were in trouble with Daniel and nearly with Kimi in the end.

“It is disappointing. We were giving everything we had and it felt like we deserved the victory but not today.”

The three-time grand prix winner feels he had the speed to cover any attack from Vettel before the safety car changed the complexion of the race.

“It felt like everything was under control, I had no major drop off in the end so I think we could have done it.

“This is racing and these things happen.”