Vettel Admits Surprise at Opening Practice Crash: “I didn’t expect to spin”

by Paul Hensby

Sebastian Vettel admitted his practice spin into the barriers at the Yas Marina Circuit caught him by surprise, but the Scuderia Ferrari driver was lucky to only suffer minimal damage to his SF90.

Vettel spun into the outside wall at turn nineteen after losing control of his car, but the damage was limited to the rim of this tyre, with the German able to resume running straight away at the start of the evening session under the lights in Abu Dhabi.

The German had ended the first session with the fifth fastest time before improving to fourth in the afternoon, 0.435 seconds adrift of the best time of the day set by Mercedes AMG Motorsport’s Valtteri Bottas.  Vettel feels they are still lacking some performance in the medium to low speed corners at Yas Marina, but he still believes they can have a strong final race weekend of 2019.

“In the medium low speed corners of this circuit we are still lacking speed, compared to our rivals,” said Vettel.  “Sector three is the one that really hurts us, we are struggling with the tyres getting hot, and the car is difficult to drive.

“Of course when you drive on the limit, any car will be more difficult to drive, and this what we are here to do. We will try our best to have a solid weekend, we can improve the set up and then see if we can fight well on Sunday.

“Today I hit the barriers: I was caught out a bit by surprise as I didn’t expect to spin. I knew going in that I would have to catch the rear, but it didn’t quite work, which was a bit unfortunate, but the only damage was to the rim.”

Team-mate Charles Leclerc ended the morning session down in seventh after struggling with the balance of his SF90, but the Monegasque racer moved up to third in the evening after improvements were made. 

Leclerc agreed with Vettel that the final sector at the Yas Marina Circuit was their weakest, but work will be done overnight to see if they can find some pace and bring them into contention for pole position on Saturday.

“The first session was quite challenging for us,” said Leclerc.  “The balance of the car was not great, but we took a very good step forward and returned to FP2 with a better performance.

“This is positive, as the track conditions were far more representative of what we can expect during qualifying and the race, considering that they both take place during the night in Abu Dhabi.  Tyre degradation is quite an important factor here.

“We seem to be fast in the first and second sectors, however still have some work ahead in optimising how we perform in sector three, so we will focus on that and try to make some further improvements. 

“Our competitors may very well be stronger than what they have shown in FP2, so we will see how things stand tomorrow.”

Charles Leclerc ended the evening session third fastest – Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

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