Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel has suggested that Mercedes may have been ‘a bit quicker’ than Ferrari during the race.

Vettel beat polesitter Valtteri Bottas, in what was his first race victory since July’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

Bottas’ team-mate Lewis Hamilton charged from a pitlane start to finish an eventual fourth. After starting the race on the slower soft compound tyre, Hamilton set a blistering pace in the closing stages on the super-soft compound, allowing him to challenge Kimi Raikkonen for third.

Despite having taken the lead at Turn 1 and retaining top spot for the duration, Vettel has suggested that the Mercedes duo may have been quicker on the day.

“I think it was crucial to get ahead [at the start],” Vettel stated. “After that, I think it would be fair to say they were a bit quicker.

“I think Lewis had a mirrored strategy. We have seen that if you can stay out of trouble in the first stint it that strategy helps you at the end.

“I think where the circuit was at the end, the super-soft was the better tyre. Nevertheless, it was very close and a tough one. Both cars on the podium – I’m very happy for the team.”

Bottas attempted the undercut on Vettel during the race’s one and only pitstop phase. Ferrari only narrowly avoided losing the lead of the race as a result.

“[The pit crew] worked brilliantly,” Vettel added. “I was really happy with my approach the pit box. I’ve had a couple of little wobbles on the way in this season which doesn’t help the guys. But the stop was really quick so we got going.

“I was told it was going to be really close and the pit exit here is probably one of the most exciting sections of the track. It was very close but it was enough to keep the lead.”

Bottas, who sits third in the drivers’ championship, is now 22 points adrift of Vettel.

The German now needs to finish in eighth place or higher at the season finale in Abu Dhabi to secure second place in the championship.