Sebastian Vettel said the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team needed to try something different during the French Grand Prix on Sunday, and they were rewarded with both cars finishing inside the top ten.
The German made a mistake in his first stint that saw him lose a little time to his rivals, and without that, he believes he could have caught those ahead of him quicker and given him a chance of bettering his ninth-place finish.
Ultimately, Vettel finished just four seconds behind sixth-placed Daniel Ricciardo, with Pierre Gasly and Fernando Alonso also involved in the battle. But the German was pleased with the strong performance put in by Aston Martin after struggling in Qualifying on Saturday.
“I think we had to do something different with the strategy today [by pitting late] and it worked out for us quite nicely with both cars inside the points,” said Vettel. “Unfortunately, I went off the track in the first stint and lost a lot of time because I was just pushing a bit too hard.
“Without that, I would have been closer to the group of cars ahead and with fresher tyres at the end. So maybe we could have finished a bit higher up if things had been perfect.
“It was hard to be consistent in such windy conditions, which were tricky for everybody to judge. But we made the best of things and it was a strong performance by the whole team with competitive race pace.”
“It was a well-earned result and a good strategy certainly helped” – Lance Stroll
Team-mate Lance Stroll started nineteenth after failing to set a time in Qualifying, but like Vettel, he ran long in his first stint and was able to jump up to tenth at the chequered flag and score a point.
The Canadian said he felt comfortable behind the wheel of his AMR21 throughout the day at Paul Ricard, and the fact he pitted late gave him fresher tyres in the closing laps that enabled him to secure the top ten finish.
“I was comfortable in the car and we were able to extract some good pace today,” said Stroll. “Paul Ricard is normally a track with little overtaking, but I managed to make all of my passes on track.
“Conditions were a bit tricky out there because the wind was changing from lap to lap, and there was quite a bit of tyre degradation across the field. Towards the end of the race, a lot of drivers were struggling for grip and we were able to take advantage to finish P10.
“It was a well-earned result and a good strategy certainly helped. Getting both cars into the points is a decent result, especially because we started P19.
“We have made progress with our race pace, but we need to make further gains on Saturday to help continue our consistent points-scoring form.”