Sebastian Vettel said the late race rain at the Sochi Autodrom caught out the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team as they missed out on points despite being in contention for them all day long.
Vettel gambled on staying on track in a bid to gain position, but the rain worsened with three laps remaining, meaning the gamble did not pay off and he fell out of the top ten.
He also survived a late-race clash with team-mate Lance Stroll as the two found themselves fighting over the same part of the track, but Vettel was disappointed to leave Russia with a twelfth place result.
“In the early part of the race it was not easy to make much progress in the train of cars, but when the rain came in the final few laps the race became a lottery,” said Vettel. “It felt like a 50/50 call as to whether we should pit for Intermediate tyres.
“It felt like the rain would stay light, so we stayed out, but then it became much heavier and caught us out. So we had to pit in the end and fit Intermediates, which dropped us down the order. When you have rain late in the race it can give you a big opportunity, but it did not go our way today.
“I think it was an entertaining race for the fans and I am happy for Lewis [Hamilton] to have won his 100th Grand Prix: a huge achievement and well deserved today.”
“The change in weather cost us a strong chance of a good result” – Lance Stroll
Team-mate Stroll also left Sochi without a point, with the Canadian also earning himself a ten-second time penalty for causing a collision with Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda’s Pierre Gasly at turn two as the rain began to fall.
Stroll made a good start and was running fourth in the early laps, but he fell down the pack as he made a relatively early pit stop, although he was able to jump ahead of Williams Racing’s George Russell.
However, the hard tyre was a challenging one for Stroll, and he ended up fighting for the minor points, only to lose out in the shuffle in the final laps as the rain fell, ultimately finishing eleventh.
“It is a real shame that the change in weather cost us a strong chance of a good result and plenty of points,” said Stroll. “In hindsight, stopping one lap earlier for Intermediates could have changed our race, but it is always hard to judge when the conditions are evolving.
“I made the call for us to stay out and try to make it to the end, so it is down to me. It is even more disappointing considering we made a great start and got up to fourth in what was a really enjoyable battle in the first few corners.
“We made the undercut on George [Russell] later on, which worked out nicely, but the second stint on the Hard tyre was made more challenging by the DRS train of cars ahead, which always hurts the tyres, and then it rained.
“It became very slippery out there and I did not see Sebastian alongside me. We will learn from today and move on to Turkey in a few weeks’ time.”