Brazilian Grand Prix – Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel had his race ruined by an errant sensor on his car, which prevented him from fully utilising the pace available.
Vettel had a rather anonymous race on Sunday, which was somewhat surprising given his pace throughout Friday & Saturday. Having qualified on the front row, less than a tenth behind polesitter Lewis Hamilton, and with the added advantage of starting on the better race tyre, Vettel faded immediately as he lost position to Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes on the first lap. Then, a small error allowed Kimi Raikkonen to pounce. Max Verstappen also got past shortly after, while a late race pitstop due to worn tyres meant that Vettel was consigned to P6 by the chequered flag.
Afterwards, team boss Maurizio Arrivabene explained that a sensor issue hit Vettel’s car on the formation lap, which was the cause of Sebastian’s slow getaway from the dummy grid. While he was able to get the car going, the issues prevented him from fully using the engine and ERS system’s full potential with Arrivabene saying that the race settings had to be changed throughout.
Vettel, ending up in front of Raikkonen after the pitstops, willingly played ball with team orders when asked to move aside for the quicker Ferrari, with Kimi eventually able to pass Valtteri Bottas and take the final podium spot. However, P3 & P6 for the red cars meant that Mercedes wrapped up the Constructor’s Championship with one round to go, leaving Ferrari as runners-up yet again.
“Unfortunately, even though Kimi finished on the podium today, we were unable to reach our goal, which was to keep the battle going for the Constructors’ title.” said Arrivabene afterwards. “Right from the formation lap, we became aware of a problem with a sensor on Seb’s car. This meant that, for the whole race, he had to run different settings to those we would have normally used and that made the car difficult to drive. Congratulations to Mercedes on taking the teams’ title.”
“Obviously, this was not an easy race and I am not happy with sixth place.” a downbeat Vettel said in the press pen. “I tried to do my best, but the car was difficult to drive and I even struggled to drive on the straights. However, I am happy that Kimi got to the podium, because it is a good result for us, even if we didn’t win the Constructors’ Championship. Honestly, I don’t think it was an advantage for us to start on Soft tyres, because the Supersofts lasted longer than expected, but that’s how it was.”
“The first part of my start was going well, but then the second was not that good, as I had nowhere to go with Lewis in front of me. I think we just didn’t have enough grip in the second part of the “esses”, Lewis and Valtteri worked together and I had no chance. Also, Lewis was a little bit quicker on the brakes to give Valtteri the outside line and then in lap 2 or 3 Max passed us as he was faster. There’s not much to say as this year Mercedes has been stronger than us and we can only congratulate them.”