Despite being forced to settle for second in the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday, Sebastian Vettel was happy with the result, and the German admitted to having a lot of fun during the race at the Shanghai International Circuit.
The Scuderia Ferrari driver ended up just 6.250 seconds behind race winner Lewis Hamilton, but did so after running fifth in the laps after the safety car, when he was caught up by its timing having already stopped for slick tyres during the virtual safety car a few laps earlier.
Being out of position meant Vettel was forced to make some aggressive looking moves to gain positions, passing team-mate Kimi Raikkonen into turn six, and then a few laps later former team-mate Daniel Ricciardo on the exit of the same turn, with the two banging wheels in the process.
He then caught Max Verstappen and got ahead when the Dutchman made a mistake at the hairpin, but the gap to Hamilton at that point was too much for him to close down, and despite not relenting with his pace, was forced to settle for second.
“We can be happy with today’s results,” insisted Vettel. “The race was a lot of fun, very entertaining. Conditions were tricky at the start, you never know what can happen in those moments, so I was perhaps a bit too conservative.
“Then we chose to change tyres since the track was quickly drying out, so that we could take advantage from the slicks; but luck was not on our side as the safety car came in right after. I can’t say how much this affected the final result, it was still a long way from there to the finish, but I think it had an effect.
“From then I had to work my way through the field, and I had a tense wheel-to-wheel fight with Ricciardo. I like this way of overtaking, when gaining position comes at a price and not simply by opening up the DRS.
“At that moment though, the gap to Lewis had widened, and I kept pushing to keep some pressure on him, while asking my engineer what pace was needed for me to catch him.
“I think that pace-wise we were a match today, sometimes he was faster, sometimes I was: if we can fight with Mercedes also in Bahrain that will be again good news. We can still improve.”