Sebastian Vettel felt he had more than enough pace to win the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday but his afternoon unravelled on the opening lap after contact with championship rival Lewis Hamilton at turn four.
The Scuderia Ferrari driver had already attempted to take the lead away from team-mate Kimi Räikkönen at the first turn and heading into the Variante della Roggia but moving to the inside of the track allowed Hamilton to get a run on his outside, and the two clashed at the chicane.
Vettel lost part of his front wing and suffered other damage to his car in the incident and fell to the back of the field, but he made use of the superior pace of his SF71H to climb to fifth at the chequered flag, which became fourth when Max Verstappen took his five-second time penalty.
“At the beginning I tried to overtake Kimi in Turn 1 and 4, but I couldn’t,” said Vettel. “He opened the brakes, which he had the right to do, so I moved aside and opened a gap to Lewis.
“Then I had room left and no chance anymore. So, when I touched Lewis, I span around and that was unfortunate, as my car got quite some damages. It could have gone differently, but obviously it wasn’t the case.
“Unfortunately, our race was compromised and it was a shame, but then I tried to do my best and had a decent recovery from the back. All in all, it could have been even worse. It’s disappointing of course, because we had the pace and we definitely could have won.”
Vettel now sits thirty points behind Hamilton in the championship heading into the final seven Grand Prix of the season, and he feels there is still time to fight back and give the faithful Tifosi something to cheer about this season.
“There are many points to win back now in the championship, but we still have time to improve and we have the margin to recover,” said Vettel.
“I am sorry for our Tifosi because they just deserved a different result today.”