Sebastian Vettel has revealed that he “struggled to drive on the straights” during the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix which saw him drop from second to sixth and Scuderia Ferrari’s championship challenge come to an end.
Vettel had been favourite the win the season’s penultimate race, starting on what was widely considered to be the optimum tyre strategy. The once championship challenging German lost out at the start however, dropping to third behind both Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport cars.
From there Vettel was uncharacteristically slow – later revealing costly sensor issues within his car – losing out to Max Verstappen and running wide to allow his team-mate Kimi Räikkönen through.
“Obviously, this was not an easy race and I am not happy with sixth place,” said Vettel post-race. “I tried to do my best, but the car was difficult to drive and I even struggled to drive on the straights.
“However, I am happy that Kimi got to the podium, because it is a good result for us, even if we didn’t win the Constructors’ Championship.”
Ferrari had appeared to deliver a masterstroke in qualifying at Interlagos by getting both cars through Q2 on the yellow-striped Soft tyres. The theory gave Ferrari an edge come race-day but unexpected longevity on the alternative Super Softs left them behind their competitors and handed Mercedes the constructors’ title for the fifth year in a row.
“Honestly, I don’t think it was an advantage for us to start on Soft tyres, because the Supersofts lasted longer than expected, but that’s how it was. The first part of my start was going well, but then the second was not that good, as I had nowhere to go with Lewis in front of me.
“ I think we just didn’t have enough grip in the second part of the “esses”, Lewis [Hamilton] and Valtteri [Bottas] worked together and I had no chance. Also, Lewis was a little bit quicker on the brakes to give Valtteri the outside line and then in lap 2 or 3 Max passed us as he was faster.
“There’s not much to say as this year Mercedes has been stronger than us and we can only congratulate them.”
With nothing left to play for in 2018, Vettel and Ferrari will look to end the year as they started it; with victory in the final race in Abu Dhabi.