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However, his consistency could help keep Ferrari in competition for the Constructor Championship for the remainder of the season.

After battling for a points finish, the Spaniard endured the agony of having to retire two laps from the end with engine trouble.

Russian Grand Prix is the next race of the 2017 season and will be held between 28-30 April in Sochi.

Kimi Räikkönen came home 4th in the other Ferrari.

"It's important as we start the race to give them equal opportunity", he said.

"On Sundays they been slightly better than us, in the longer runs with high fuel load, but it's also very close and completely dependent on the track and on the conditions. It is all small, fine percentages that will make the difference between winning and coming second", BBC quoted Hamilton as saying.

Having based its recent campaign on ensuring equality between its two drivers with a dominant vehicle, the threat of Vettel - and the risk of losing wins because Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are fighting each other - means Mercedes may now face a tough call in terms of needing to favour one of its men.

Max Verstappen, who started in sixth, was running well until his Red Bull inexplicably had a brake failure shortly after the teenager had pitted on lap 12.

Bottas not only lost out to race victor Sebastian Vettel but also Lewis Hamilton and was twice asked to move over for his Mercedes team-mate who showed superior pace. Hamilton passed Ricciardo and went on to catch up with his team mate, who followed the team orders and let the British driver pass on Lap 29.

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"Our focus was on advancing our understanding of the tyres and also the rear of the auto so that we can improve our long runs".

"Firstly, congratulations to Sebastian, he did a fantastic job today and also a big thank you to Valtteri for being a gentleman out there".

"I am trying to prepare the best I can for the next race", Hamilton explained.

Lewis Hamilton has apologised to his Mercedes team after he admitted he was at fault for the pit-lane blunder which cost him a shot at victory in Bahrain on Sunday.

"Of course, the disappointment is there".

"I'm sorry and apologise, but we still got good points for the team and we still had a great fight". I knew what he was doing. But with the five-second penalty, that made it twice as hard than it was already going to be. It was 19 seconds.

"As a team, at least, we should have won but we didn't".

The team did, after all, see Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas finish in second and third place, respectively.


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