Singapore Grand Prix: Sebastian Vettel defends Ferrari strategy

Formula 1

With Hamilton now 40 points ahead, are the championship’s top two drivers heading in different directions?

Sebastian Vettel defended Ferrari after a strategy call cost him second place in the Singapore Grand Prix.

The German slipped to 40 points behind title rival Lewis Hamilton, who won the race from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Vettel said: “It is not great when you come to the end of the championship and you are losing points rather than making up points. But we still have a lot of races left.

“If we win every race from now, we’re safe – that’s what we need to aim for.”

Vettel was favourite to win in Singapore before the race weekend but he could qualify only third with Hamilton on pole.

In the race, he passed Verstappen for second on the first lap, but an early pit stop backfired and Vettel conceded the place again, and was then left to conserve his tyres to the end rather than attack.

“Looking back, there is something we missed but at the time it felt like the right thing to do,” Vettel said.

“We went for it, we tried, but it didn’t work. If it works, great, if not, it is not great, simple as that.”

Vettel came out from his pit stop behind Force India’s Sergio Perez, who he took a lap to pass. That meant not only did he not overtake Hamilton, but Verstappen was also able to make his stop and rejoin in front of the Ferrari.

“I will always defend the team. The decision we took in the race to try and be aggressive. I believe we saw something so that’s why we went for it.

“In the car it is difficult to be sure because you can’t see where you come out.

“We had to go through traffic which cost us second, if it doesn’t work it is easy to criticise but I will always defend what we did.

“We had a very strong package but we finished third and fifth so not where the speed of our car belongs so that’s what we meant by we didn’t get the most out of ourselves.”

He added: “For sure, [I’m] not feeling good in terms of losing extra points. We can’t leave here and say we did everything right but we tried and it didn’t work.

“We started third and finished third, we didn’t lose anything but we also didn’t gain anything.”

Ferrari took the decision to pit Sebastian Vettel on lap 15 and put him on ultrasoft tyres which left him behind Perez

Vettel can win the title if he wins every one of the six remaining races with Hamilton second and the Briton said he was taking nothing for granted.

Hamilton said: “We’re just taking it one race at a time, knowing Ferrari have had quite good pace for the last two races.

“While we have finished on the front foot, we start on the back foot, but with the mentality maybe we will come out ahead.

“I am looking forward to a couple of days off. Of course it feels great but I have been here a long time and I know we can’t get ahead of ourselves.

“We need to continue to remain humble and work as hard as we can.

“Still lots of points available but with this performance and the work we have done I truly believe we can deliver impactful weekends for the rest of the season. So that’s the goal.”

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