Sebastian Vettel: “On my defence, I was fighting hard”


GP MESSICO F1/2016 © FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER FERRARI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE). Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

Scuderia Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel is adamant that he did everything correctly during Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix, and believes the Maranello based squad could have finished higher up the order had it not been for their poor performance in qualifying.

“Today I think we did everything right, we had a very good pace. I think we could have even done better with a better position in Qualifying, but we can’t change yesterday.”

Knowing that the SF16-H definitely had the pace to challenge for the podium, Vettel was confident of coming away with a strong result ahead of the race.

The German’s hunch was proved correct, as not only did Ferrari have good pace on Sunday, but they were also able to manage the tyres perfectly, and stay out for a longer stint than most on the soft tyre.

“We were very positive going into the day today, we knew that the speed was there, so we had good confidence for the race. We made the tires last longer than anybody else.”

The final laps were where it all went wrong for Vettel however, when the German became aggrieved by the fact that Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen had not given the place back when he made an error and ran off track, whilst battling with the Ferrari.

When nothing was done to ensure the Dutchman let Vettel by, the German launched into a torrent of abuse over team radio, blasting Charlie Whiting for not enforcing what he believed to be the correct rules.

“We were quicker, so we put Verstappen under pressure: for sure it was not easy to pass, but he did a mistake, cut the track and didn’t give the position back even if he was told to do so.

Having already become incensed by the Verstappen incident, Vettel then took his anger out on the Dutchman’s team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who had closed on the German in the final moments.

Having initially left room for the Australian as he swooped in for a pass down the inside of the SF16-H at Turn 4, Vettel moved across and blocked Ricciardo, causing the pair to bang wheels as the Australian was squeezed out by the Ferrari.

Ricciardo was adamant that Vettel had broken the recently quantified rules regarding moving under braking, which after much deliberation the stewards agreed to be the case, resulting in a ten second time penalty for Vettel after the race and bumping him down the order to fifth place.

The German still believes however, that he gave the Australian plenty of room.

“About the fight with Daniel: I respect him a lot, it is never ideal when you touch. On my defence, I was fighting hard, and trying to give him some space, which I think I did.”