Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2018

Vettel says he wasn’t a threat for the win before lucky break with VSC

2018 Australian Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel says he wasn’t a threat for victory in the Australian Grand Prix until the Virtual Safety Car period turned things his way.

The Ferrari driver said his chance to win came because Ferrari left him out longer than Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen in the hope of capitalising on any opportunity which arose.

Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Albert Park, 2018
2018 Australian Grand Prix in pictures
“We did our homework pre-race looking at different strategies and what might happen and so on,” said Vettel. “We had the freedom in P3 to do a little bit what we wanted because I wasn’t really a threat to P1 and P2, to Lewis and Kimi.”

“We stayed out and waited for something to happen and something happened. There’s been plenty of examples when people didn’t do that and settled for the safer option. But we stayed out and got a reward at the end.

“It wasn’t a walk in the park, Lewis was a little bit faster and trying to put pressure but we resisted well. No problems until the end, the balance was a bit better on the harder compound so overall I think we had a strong race.”

Despite his win Vettel believes Mercedes still hold the upper hand. “It was a sprint to the first stop where we all tried to push as hard as we could,” he said. “I lost a bit the connection because I was struggling a bit with the car and the feel for the tyres in the first stint.”

“For sure the result today, we got a bit lucky with the Virtual Safety Car, but overall out pace was strong but not as strong as it has to be to fight for victory in normal conditions.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 14 comments on “Vettel says he wasn’t a threat for the win before lucky break with VSC”

    1. Lots of criticism of the VSC today – it spoiled the race, created an unfair outcome etc. I, for one, like the VSC. It is first and foremost a simple and effective safety measure that would have prevented the death of Jules Bianchi. I also like the randomness it brings to F1 as it is another variable in the big strategic game. In fact, given the lack of ‘natural’ competition in F1 right now, I would support even more ‘positive gimmicks’ such as Pirelli tyres from 2012!

      1. In this particular situation it was always going to bring out the safety car, to start with the VSC was the wrong choice.

      2. I don’t get it, SC has the same problem where drivers have to drive to a delta and you can gain an advantage in the pits (see Hungary 2014). Why all the hate on VSC

        1. Further to that, the safety car bunches up the pack. At least the VSC doesn’t do that (unless they then throw a safety car as well).

          I get the impression (and could be wrong) that most people criticising it are disappointed that Hamilton / Mercedes didn’t win – e.g. the sky commentary team.

          Gaining an advantage under safety car / VSC conditions is nothing new and is part of the game. Every driver at some point has gained or lost out because of this. They have tried banning pit stops during safety cars in the past and those methods showed time and time again they do not work

        2. There is a simple fix to this problem: close the pitlane during a VSC.

      3. @girts – the VSC is a good idea, but like most good ideas, it could do with a few tweaks in its implementation.

        Firstly, I learnt today that drivers exiting the pit lane are not bound by any speed limit until the first timing loop a little distance away. This is unfair, and they should be subject to VSC speeds across the entire circuit.
        Secondly, the FIA needs to consider if under VSC conditions, the pitlane speed limit has to be decreased. So, normal pitlane speeds are 60 km/h and under a VSC period, the pitlane speeds are 40 km/h. That might help keep the relative penalty of pitting vs. not pitting roughly similar under VSC to normal racing conditions.

      4. Vsc should be tweaked to just the local sector. If not then as mentioned they should have deltas for pit stops. There was no way that vet could’ve turned a 10 sec lead to a pitstop to a net lead in normal race conditions. He essentially got a free pit stop with the current rules

    2. For sure the result today, we got a bit lucky with the Virtual Safety Car

      I’ve heard Vettel say this so many times on the coverage I’m starting to think Ferrari did arrange for Haas to bring out the VSC lol

      1. No – to me it sounds like he realizes how incredibly lucky he was, and fair play to him for acknowledging that. After his somewhat lackluster qualifying performance yesterday, and starting third on the grid next to Max, I don’t think he’d really have thought he’d win the race without a stroke of luck. It was the first race of the season and with Kimi in front of him, it is likely he might not have received any preferential treatment either.

        Ferrari rolled the dice today by keeping him out late, and it paid off handsomely today.

        Let’s ease off on the Haas conspiracy stories, I don’t think Ferrari would do such a bad thing. Now let me get back to reading about how Facebook leaks personal data, Equifax leaks financial records, and Uber runs over a pedestrian. :-P

      2. Why would HAAS be so stupid to let those points slip away, and why, and if Ferrari really did it then you could one of them crash

        1. Don’t have to put up with these guys, they’re ridiculous.

          It happenend once indeed – 2008 – but it was an inside job: same team. But won’t see that kind of GIFT from a team to another team!! Especially with both cars, especially with the only car left in the race, especially given those positions for a team of that caliber! Certains teams can help each other (Williams with Mercedes, Sauber and Haas with Ferrari) when they lap each other, not to imped at all one another and lose time, but not this kind of help… to retire even one car to help another team win! Even the moment of the season – just the 1st race of the season – doesn’t support at all this kind of ideas.

          1. Indeed, everything you said makes sense.

      3. It would’ve been funny to discover that they tried to use mag first to trigger a vsc, failed and then use gro to successfully alter the race. Singapore 2008 all over again hahaha

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