Sebastian Vettel defended Ferrari from criticism of their strategy despite a late pit stop which potentially cost him a podium finish.
Vettel was running in third place with 20 laps to go when a pursuing Lewis Hamilton pitted before him and used the ‘undercut’ to jump ahead.
Ferrari realised the were at risk of losing the position soon enough to switch Vettel to a set of soft tyres when he made his final pit stop on the next lap. But he was unable to mount an attack on Hamilton, and dropped back from the Mercedes as the stint wore on.
“We tried to go on the softer tyre in the end, which initially we thought would work well, but then we had too much degradation and we were falling off this group,” said Vettel.
“It is always easy to criticise, and I am sure there are many ‘experts’ that knew better, but on the pit wall as well as in the car, I was keen to go for this strategy so to extend the second stint.”
Vettel dropped almost 15 seconds behind Hamilton at the end of the race, and was unable to take advantage when the Mercedes driver went off at the chicane on the penultimate lap as he tried to pass Max Verstappen.
Ferrari’s strategy worked better for Kimi Raikkonen, who was able to jump ahead of Daniel Ricciardo through his final pit stop. He used hard tyres for his 27-lap final stint.
2016 Japanese Grand Prix lap chart
The positions of each driver on every lap. Scroll to zoom, drag to pan, click name to highlight, right-click to reset. Toggle drivers using controls below:
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2016 Japanese Grand Prix race chart
The gaps between each driver on every lap compared to the leader’s average lap time. Very large gaps omitted. Scroll to zoom, drag to pan and right-click to reset. Toggle drivers using controls below:
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