Binotto: Vettel’s stop was to cover off Verstappen

Marina Bay, Singapore

Singapore Grand Prix – Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto says Vettel’s pitstop on Lap 14 was the team reacting to Max Verstappen’s pitcrew coming out.

Sebastian Vettel won the race in Singapore, having been P3 in the opening stages of the race. With the race pace slow in order to preserve their tyres as long as possible, the question mark was always which of the leading drivers would blink first as it would hand them a big pace advantage when they re-emerged.

In the end, it was Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel who pitted first when he came in on Lap 20. He was followed in directly by the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, and both men benefitted when they came back out on track. Vettel was able to jump past both cars in front of him when they pitted, gaining the lead, while Verstappen ended up in front of Lewis Hamilton.

Explaining the timing of the stop after the race, Ferrari team boss said the call to pit Vettel was made because of Red Bull coming out into the pitlane for Verstappen – a move that would have ended up with the Dutch driver jumping Vettel, at least. Vettel also confirmed after the race that he received the call to pit very late, coming over the radio as he drove out of the second last corner.

“When we stopped Sebastian, we knew Verstappen was ready to stop and we had to protect his position.” explained Binotto. “It was the best opportunity for us to try overtaking Hamilton and that was the right time to stop Sebastian, no discussion. When he went out, he went very well on the fresh tyres and simply that’s racing and that’s how he ended up in front of Charles. We couldn’t stop Charles at that stage. If you are leading the race, you won’t stop first, but it ended up being the proper window for Seb.”

Binotto said the way the victories are falling for Ferrari at the moment are giving them very little time to celebrate their resurgence, as the races are falling on consecutive weekends: “It’s a shame it’s always a back to back. Spa was a back to back with Monza and now here is back to back with Sochi. Very little time to enjoy and celebrate, but we’re obviously very happy to win here and on a very different type of track. Slow corners, slow speed – it definitely wasn’t expected but we’re very happy with the 1-2 today.”

Having gone the entirety of the first half of the season without a win, Ferrari’s recent upgrades seem to have handed them a pace advantage over their rivals as they’ve claimed three consecutive wins at both fast and slow circuits. Binotto says he feels there should have been some wins earlier in the season, but that their luck has changed: “I think we were unlucky at the start of the season and now too lucky now, on average we should have won some races we didn’t and had some missed opportunities. Now we’re lucky to get three wins in a row, and lucky that it’s been so close – so close it could go one way or the other.”

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Thomas Maher

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