Russian Grand Prix – Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel says he tried being as fair as possible while battling Lewis Hamilton on track in Sochi,
Vettel and title rival Lewis Hamilton engaged in an on track battle immediately after their pitstops during the race at the Sochi Autodrom. Vettel had been directly behind the Mercedes driver prior to the stops but pitting two laps earlier than Hamilton, combined with fast pace on his fresh tyres, meant that Vettel was able to get ahead of Hamilton when the British driver made his stop.
This state of affairs didn’t last long, however. Hamilton quickly caught back up on the Ferrari to apply pressure on Vettel, with Sebastian then making a slight error by locking up into the third last corner. This put him out of DRS range of the leader Valtteri Bottas, and within striking distance of Hamilton. Lewis was then able to use his DRS to slipstream the Ferrari and attempt a move up the inside into Turn 2. Vettel, spotting this, blocked the Merc in what was a questionable second manoeuvre before Hamilton went around the outside of Turn 3 to pass Vettel in the braking area of Turn 4. Vettel’s defensive move was looked at by the race stewards, who deemed it OK.
Speaking after the race, Vettel & Hamilton were both asked their opinions regarding their on track skirmish, with Vettel explaining how he had approached the fight as fairly as he could: “Obviously, we undercut him which was good. Then, I think it was clear that Valtteri was dropping back to make life difficult, I guess, so they played well together as a team.”
“Then I had a bit of a wobble into Turn 13, a lock up and Lewis was quite close so he got DRS down the straight. I saw him coming, it was very difficult to see with the mirrors but I thought I moved before the braking, so I wanted to make sure I covered the inside. Didn’t mean to be – how do you say? – an irritation at any point. I saw that he was somewhere on the outside but then I think you also need to be at some stage fair enough and give
room, even if I didn’t want to, but I had to, to make sure that it remains fair, tough or hard but fair, but then he obviously got past.”
“I couldn’t see him for a very very long time and then just saw his tyres and I knew that he was then somewhere there and I didn’t want to be a complete arse by pushing him into the dirt and potentially into the wall so I wasn’t quite sure where he was and then at some point I had to give in. I thought I could maybe get it back out of turn four but I had to give him the entrance otherwise, you know, at some stage it just becomes silly.”
Hamilton didn’t seem to have minded Vettel’s defence, as he felt that Vettel’s second move was only a response to his own second movement: “I don’t feel anything… in the heat of the moment, it always feels one way. I’m sure if we watch afterwards you might watch it and say yes, I moved twice.”