Spanish Grand Prix – Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished P2 in Sunday’s race, and says the time lost racing Valtteri Bottas played a part in him eventually losing out to winner Lewis Hamilton. Vettel started the race at Circuit de Catalunya from P2, but was able to outdrag polesitter Lewis Hamilton on the run down to the first corner. Pulling out a small lead, Hamilton eventually began chipping away at the Ferrari’s advantage. This prompted Ferrari to try anticipating a possible Mercedes undercut and brought Vettel in for a change of tyres, taking on the Soft tyre for the middle stint.
Mercedes, instead, chose to leave Hamilton out and fitted him with Medium tyres at his stop. With both men now behind Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes left the Finn out on track as Vettel was unable to get past when he caught up. While the Ferrari driver eventually did clear the Mercedes with a deft move into Turn 1, Vettel lost five seconds to Hamilton. This time lost, coupled with a second pitstop that didn’t take advantage of the Virtual Safety Car period, unlike Hamilton, meant Vettel was eventually caught and passed by his main championship rival.
While dispirited to have lost the lead, Vettel was happy to have claimed 18 points and P2, having had a nerve-wracking start to Q1 on Saturday when his car appeared to suffer a technical problem – a problem that rectified itself as Vettel kept driving.
Explaining his perspective on the race, Vettel said that he’s delighted Ferrari were able to fight Mercedes at a track that rewards a good chassis and plenty of power:
“My start was good, I saw Lewis struggle with wheelspin, and kept looking in mirror to see if anybody else had a better start. The first stint went ok, then we had to pit, otherwise they might have got us with an undercut. My second stint was also pretty good: I managed to get close to Valtteri who was all over the place with his tyres. He blocked me, in the end I managed to get past, but by then I had lost an awful lot of time.
Then in the last stint we did everything we could, the car was good, it was close with Lewis. I am happy when we have the chance to race the Mercedes cars, we can be very happy but not entirely happy today. The most important thing, though, is that we were in the fight; the team is in great form, we need to improve because we want to be ahead of them.”