Vettel on Bottas clash: “It was my mistake”

Ferrari driver loses championship lead after chaotic race

French Grand Prix – Sebastian Vettel has accepted blame for the first corner incident between himself and Valtteri Bottas.

Going into the race as the championship leader, Vettel dealt a blow to his title ambitions with a collision between himself and Bottas on the opening lap of the race.

Using a softer tyre than both Mercedes drivers, Vettel had a stronger getaway from the lights and was running right behind the Mercedes cars into the first corner.

However, he braked too late for the corner and ran wide, understeering into Bottas and damaging both cars.

With the race under a safety car, Vettel recovered back to the pits for a change of front wing and fresh tyres, whilst Bottas suffered a puncture and floor damage.

From there, both drivers had to recover through the field, with Vettel finishing in fifth – despite a five-second time penalty – and Bottas in seventh.

Speaking after the race, Vettel admitted fault, but added that he probably fell victim to his own strong launch off the grid.

“My start was too good, then I had nowhere to go,” said Vettel.

“It was my mistake. I tried to brake early and get out of it, but I had no room. I had no grip, with being so close to the car in front, and also next to me.

“Obviously Valtteri tried to get his position back, which is fair enough, but I had nowhere to go. The turn goes left, and I tried to slow down, but with that little grip I unfortunately made contact with Valtteri.”

Bottas would’ve hoped to challenge Vettel after the race restarted, but excessive floor damage affected the pace of his Mercedes W09.

“We were going side-by-side to the braking zone with Seb, and then I went to the outside,” said Bottas.

“I think I braked quite a bit later and left enough room for him to be inside still, but I think he just went wide and hit me.

“I got a puncture. From the puncture I got a decent bit of damage on the floor, which really compromised the race.”

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Luke Murphy

As an FIA-accredited motor sport journalist, degree-level Motorsport Engineer and amateur karter, Luke's passion for motor sport is evident. He is one of the editors at FormulaSpy and one of the longest-standing members of the team.

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