Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Spa-Francorchamps, 2017

Vettel’s admits restart was ‘too good’ after failing to pass Hamilton

2017 Belgian Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel believes his attempt to take the lead late in the Belgian Grand Prix was compromised by getting ‘too good’ of a run at the restart.

Vettel chased Hamilton hard throughout the race, managing to get into the Mercedes’s slipstream along the Kemmel Straight on both the opening lap and the restart.

Hamilton was able to successfully defend the attacks however and Vettel says he believes his proximity to Hamilton at the restart may have been more of a hindrance than a help.

Esteban Ocon, Force India, Spa-Francorchamps, 2017
Belgian Grand Prix in pictures
“It was a tricky one,” says Vettel. “I knew I had an advantage with the softer compound. If I had to do it again, maybe I would do it a little differently. I had too good of a restart, probably, and too good of a first corner.

“I tried to open a gap, but we are a bit down on straight line speed so it’s playing with fire. If you open too much [of a gap], then it’s just silly because you can’t get back and then it’s like ‘why the hell did you lift?’. If you’re too close, then something like what happened can happen. At the top of the hill, I had to already get out of the tow. Then it was a drag race and even though I had momentum on him, then still a long way and there we’re missing a bit. So nowhere to go after that.”

Vettel says he was frustrated to have missed his opportunity to snatch the lead of the race away from his championship rival.

“I was super annoyed and angry in that moment,” he says. “I was trying to stay there but it was really difficult in that moment. I was surprised how well we could stick with [Mercedes] the whole race.

“Overall it was a fun race. I would’ve loved to maybe use that half a chance but I certainly learned something for the future.”

After Lewis Hamilton closed his lead in the drivers’ championship to seven points, Vettel says the key for Ferrari over the end of the season will be to maximise their qualifying performance.

“We are pushing flat out. Yesterday, if you look at the comparison to Mercedes, obviously I had a bit of a tow, but before that we were losing about three or four tenths in the straights. So that’s maybe what we’re missing.

“But it’s not a big secret that they’re very, very strong in qualifying and they’re still very strong. Plus Lewis is doing a good job so you can’t take it away from them. We simply have to get better, nail the laps, find more performance no matter where to qualify in front. As we saw today, if we had got out in front, I think we had the pace to stay there. In the end, we weren’t. So we have to live with second.”

2017 Belgian Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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  • 25 comments on “Vettel’s admits restart was ‘too good’ after failing to pass Hamilton”

    1. He might have lost 3 or 4 tenths on the straight, but he obviously gained more on the twisty section. So maybe he should blame his setup choices then.

      Hamilton had to nail Q3 and the start(s). Which he did. After that it was odd that he could so easily hold a faster car behind. Probably because Ferrari went for too much downforce and perhaps incorrect low gearing.

      Still, Ferrari made quite a step forward to be so competitive on a high speed track. Although they might have done as well at Silverstone too if hadn’t messed that one up so royally.

      1. @patrickl I’m fairly sure the Ferrari was not the faster car today. If it had been first through T1 I’m also quite certain Hamilton would’ve been able to get past in the same scenario thanks to the extra few ponies.

        The way I see it is that Hamilton continues to build on his own strength on saturdays thanks to a very quick Mercedes over one lap, something Bottas fails to extract. Starting in front, and going first through T1 is 80% of the job. I was more impressed with Vettel his P2 than Hamilton his P1 really,…

        Either way, nice win for Hamilton, expecting him to win Monza too, and then we have others like Malaysia, Mexico, Abu Dhabi, Austin, and Brazil which will suit the Mercedes too. I’ll be at Monza too so honestly I just hope a Ferrari wins for the experience. Think Vettel will win at Singapore and Suzuka but that won’t be enough.

        1. Suzuka has lots of change of direction. That was where Lewis was doing the damage in Silverstone and SPA throughout qualifying. To be honest, there is a video that shows that Seb gained 0.358 in the last sector on Qualifying only because of the tow. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4fwhgQz5GCA

          1. @krichelle I’m sorry but that video proves exactly nothing. It surely helped but I think it’s quite naive to believe it resulted in a 0,358s difference. If that was the case this would be reoccurring much more often, especially at tracks like Spa or Monza.

            Fact Hamilton has only won from pole this season, and very likely would’ve in Melbourne and Baku too (from pole) really does show well what I’m saying,…

        2. I’m fairly sure the Ferrari was not the faster car today

          Im fairly sure it was .. or at least an equal to Merc. Ferrari hampered themselves by shoving extra downforce on over Merc (as was evident all weekend).

          1. There is no point in comparing two cars *if one has a different setup than it actually had*… That’s like saying I’m fairly sure the Sauber was the fastest car if it had a V12.

            1. I’m not saying it was equal to Merc had they done a different setup I am saying they were equal to Merc to full stop. My point is only that had they not put so much downforce on the car compared to Merc they could have won the race (by not topping out on the straights)

            2. @flatsix, It’s not even Ferrari. Only Vettel had way too much downforce on his car. I guess he likes it that way. Raikkonen was much faster on the straight than Vettel. Same engine.

            3. @patrickl
              And he was nowhere in the race and couldn’t even attack Ricciardo at the end. If Vettel had opted for Raikkonen’s setup Mercedes would have had a 1-2.

        3. You were more impressed with Vettel’s P2 that was the result of a tow, more than Hamilton’s near-perfect P1 lap? Odd.

          1. Yes, that single tow for not even a 100 metres resulted in that lap. Bottas should’ve been P2 with that car, it’s that simple. The Mercedes had enough of an advantage in Q for him to be expected on P2.

            1. Remember Vettel last year in Abu Dhabi complaining of Lewis giving a tow to Nico? And Nico was within 2 seconds. It is within 2 seconds that he got the tow. Here is another video:https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4fwhgQz5GCA

              You can see that near Blanchimont, Kimi was ahead of Seb and you can see Seb constantly gaining on Lewis as soon as Kimi was within sight, just right after the second right corner of Stavelot. Without Kimi, that sector would have been all emerald color.

            2. Ferrari said themselves the tow was significant.

        4. @flatsix, I’m pretty sure Raikkonen would have had Vettel in Q3 if they had given Raikkonen tyres that worked.

          1. @patrickl I’m not so much into the ‘tyres that worked’ part but I also do think Kimi had the chance of being on the front row. However, he ruined his own lap as he said so himself. That in all only makes Vettel his performance better, at best he was looking at P4 so the pressure was onto him to perform better, which he once more did.

          2. @patrickl
            Or the talent that Vettel has.

    2. Nice to see Hamilton improving his brain, and demonstrating some highly effective defensive cunning.

      1. That brain was always there, did we miss Bahrain ’14, Monaco ’16 and all the others?

    3. Watching the race I got the same feeling as Vettel described at the restart. He got too close too soon. That meant Vettel didn’t fully tool advantage of the tow. It’s a fine line, was happy to see that he could keep up with the Merc during the first stint.

    4. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
      28th August 2017, 8:03

      Hamilton gives a better explanation of what happened at the restart

      “I broke away but didn’t have the right power mode so he started catching me up,” Hamilton said. “Initially it felt like a mistake but in actual fact it was a really good thing because if I had gone into that last corner with that gap and gone into Turn One with that gap, he would have had the momentum being three or four car lengths behind to really propel, really get a good tow. so it worked out perfect.

      “He was on the gas before me (out of the La Source hairpin). I could hear him. And then as we were going down that straight I didn’t keep it full lit the whole way. I was 90% throttle to keep him close because I knew he wasn’t going to come by because he knows I would overtake him at the top part of the straight with the tow.

      “So as we were going up Eau Rouge, that’s when I really gunned it and had maximum power and got to the top and he had no space to propel himself so he just pulled out alongside.

      “It was a cool battle and it was really great to go into Turn Five having just done enough.”

      That’s a racing brain par excellence.

    5. Interestingly it seams that he was too close due to Hamiltom slightly slowing.
      (according to port race interview.

      1. @ootony see @thegrapeunwashed comment above in Hamiltons own words, it wasn’t slowing but a well thought out defensive throttle application, combined with millimetre perfect braking at the end of Kemmel straight. In fact it was perfect braking from both of them with no sign of a lock up, which represents how both of them drove for the entire race.

        1. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
          28th August 2017, 10:51

          @ju88sy Mark Hughes supplies another fascinating insight in his race report: cars are configured to de-rate towards the end of the Kemmel straight because there is so little to be gained (the electrical energy is more useful coming out of Pouhon), but Mercedes has a driver override for extreme circumstances as at the race restart – so Vettel de-rated approaching Les Combes but Hamilton remained at full beans until the braking point; by such fractions are races won.

          Great driver-centric engineering from Mercedes, in stark contrast to Honda, de-rating when Alonso unexpectedly took Pouhon flat!

        2. Well thought?
          Based on Lewis’ own words it seems more like a lucky mistake to me:
          “I broke away but didn’t have the right power mode so he started catching me up,” Hamilton said. “Initially it felt like a mistake but in actual fact it was a really good thing because if I had gone into that last corner with that gap and gone into Turn One with that gap, he would have had the momentum being three or four car lengths behind to really propel, really get a good tow.”
          It wasn’t a deliberate choice of his, it was a mistake that happened to work out fine for him!

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