Valtteri Bottas believes it would have been possible to challenge Sebastian Vettel even if the Ferrari hadn’t taken a second pit stop.
Bottas narrowly missed out on taking second during the first round of pit stops, when a slow stop put him behind Vettel.
He was gifted another opportunity when the Ferrari was forced to take a second stop late in the race, dropping Vettel back to fourth, but Bottas believes he had the pace to challenge Vettel on track.
“I felt like I had a lot more pace all through the race,” he said.
“As everyone knows, its extremely difficult to overtake here and I could always put pressure on him when we needed – but you need such a big gap between the pace to get through.
“We were waiting for the next opportunity as we missed the first opportunity during the first pit stop, waiting for the second pit stop if we could have done anything.
“I think there would have been a chance and I think with the strong car we had today, there would have been opportunities later.”
Both Bottas and Vettel pitted early in the race as both teams planned to run a two stop strategy. But Mercedes switched to a one stop after seeing the pace Max Verstappen and Red Bull showed in an extended first stint.
It meant Bottas ran almost 50 laps on the medium tyres, which he didn’t expect to last the remainder of the race as well as they did.
“We honestly never thought it would be possible to do the race quickly with one stop, but the conditions changed and the tyres were behaving better than expected today, then it was possible,” he said.
“I’m happy the team was so reactive and we could spot that, and maybe Ferrari didn’t. I think we have good racing intelligence today.”