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Vettel on Verstappen clash: He defended too late

Japanese Grand Prix – Sebastian Vettel’s hopes of keeping himself in championship contention were hampered by an early-race collision with Max Verstappen.

Having progressed from eighth to fourth in the opening couple of laps, Vettel was challenging Red Bull’s Verstappen for third place after an early virtual safety car period.

He made a move on the inside into spoon corner, but the two came together and Vettel spun, sending him to the back of the field.

He recovered to sixth place but, speaking after the race, felt that the Dutchman had defended unnecessarily hard.

“His battery was clipping, I saw that, I had a good exit because I was saving mine and I was boosting all the way,” explained Vettel.

“He was trying to defend, which is fine. I saw the gap, I went for the gap, but then – and it’s a bit of a trademark for him as soon as he sees somebody close – he’s tries everything to stay there, sometimes too late.

“We were side-by-side but then I can’t go anywhere. I can’t turn even further on the inside because I’ve already got two wheels on the kerb, and then he needs to just give way and fight back on the corner after.

“I’m sure I wouldn’t have got a great exit out of spoon [corner]. It wouldn’t have been over there, but like that it was.”

When asked about his championship challenge, Vettel all but accepted defeat: “It’s a bit of a hand-over, in the last couple of races it’s been very easy for them. We’ll see, we’ll do our best, but obviously we need something to happen to them. We’ll go to the next race and go from there.”


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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