Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Baku City Circuit, 2018

Vettel “not worried at all” despite losing championship lead

2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel says Ferrari’s strong form at the start of 2018 makes him confident for the rest of the year despite losing the championship lead in Azerbaijan.

The Ferrari driver led more than half of last weekend’s race before losing the lead to Valtteri Bottas during a Safety Car period. However he is encouraged by Ferrari’s form after taking pole position in each of the last three races.

“The most important thing is that we have a good car,” said Vettel. “We have a car that we can work with qualifying. If we can put it in the front we can fight for a win. We have good pace in the race.

“I’m not worried at all because I think it’s quite different to last year where in qualifying for most of the time for most of the year we weren’t competitive enough. And also then later in the season in the race we weren’t competitive enough to make things happen.

“But if you are quick enough you can make things happen. Now the way the race turned out today is for some people good, for some people bad – speak to Valtteri I’m pretty sure he’s not sure because it was his win! – but that’s how it goes. As I said I’m not worried because the car is there and we need to make sure it stays there.”

Vettel said his last-ditch effort to pass Bottas at the final restart was worth a try even it cost him a podium finish.

“I tried because I saw there was a gap. Obviously going into turn one Lewis [Hamilton] was on my right, Valtteri was straight ahead. I had the tow, I had more speed so I go on the inside.

“It didn’t work, I tried, I got caught out with the bump and the front locking. But I don’t want to blame it on the bump nor the front locking, in the end I’m captain on board and it just didn’t work. But we can’t let one-and-a-half or two seconds of the race have a shame on all the race because there’s a lot of positives.”

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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...
Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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25 comments on “Vettel “not worried at all” despite losing championship lead”

  1. I was happy when Vettel first started winning at Ferrari and thought he’d have the won title by now in cars better than Alonso enjoyed, but Mercedes were too strong until now.
    I think he equals Alonso’s wins at Ferrari with the next one. Looking at Lewis’s body language he seems to think it’s Vettel’s year too.

    1. Martijn (@)
      4th May 2018, 12:26

      I thought so too (on the Lewis thing), yet he’s on top of the leaderboard again albeit with some luck

      1. To be fair it was luck that put him below Vettel in the first place.

      2. Hamilton should be more worried about Bottas. He has shown the Mercedes is more than a match for Ferrari in race trim in the last three races.

        As for Vettel’s championship hopes: His overconfidence is costing him points again. In my view, it will be a matter of time before Mercedes finds its usual pace again – after all: they apparently use oil from 2016 (!) and are at least equal to Ferrari in the races.

        1. FlatSix (@)
          4th May 2018, 13:10

          @xenomorph91 How exactly is his overconfidence costing him points? If anything he’s lost points due to a range of circumstances not controlled by his own.

          In Australia he drove a very serene anonymous race before the SC and managed it brilliantly after. In Bahrein he was flawless and Bottas should’ve overtaken him but Vettel won. In China again he was having a race without fault, Ferrari however reacted slowly and this placed him behind Bottas, that Verstappen t-bones him is not his fault.

          In Baku he once again controlled the race beautifully with Hamilton very much a challenger. SC robbed him of a fairly certain win as it didn’t look like Bottas was going to do it within the laps available.

          So the one fault Vettel has made in my POV is his overoptimistic attempt in Baku for which he provided a adequate explanation really…

          The Ferrari is hardly in a class of its own and the Mercedes is still very much there, and could’ve won each of the last four races.

          1. In China the collision happened because he outbraked himself opening the gap for Verstappen to dive into – whilst the collision itself was entirely not his fault, he was at fault for creating the scenario in the first place.

            As for Baku: His explanation to find no reference points on the left side of the track is not sufficient for me. There were Whilst fighting for a championship, he will not win it taking the first opportunity for a win when a guarented second place will bag you lots of points too. He should also consider what he can lose and not only what he can gain. Secondly he said there was head wind on the long main straight – perfect opportunity for an overtaking maneuvre when not everyone is close behind you to gain from your mistake as right after the SC.

            In my view he is wasting opportunities for more points which is ironic given that he won the championship by a mere 4 and 3 points in 2010 and 2012 respectively – and he had the privilege to drive the best car in these years. Something he is not enjoying this year.

            I would be happy if he won the championship but I’m pessimistic with his attitude “I’m happier that I tried it than if I would not have done it” – it won’t be gaining him a 5th championship if the competition is that close.

            P.S. The doublicate can be deleted. ;)

          2. Yep, because it’s Vettel’s overconfidence that caused Max to chuck one up the inside.

        2. @xenomorph91 Bottas is no match for Hamilton. In the Baku race Bottas was almost ten seconds behind Hamilton, had Hamiltonnot locked up Bottas would be nowhere near Hamilton.

        3. Overconfidence? More like Verstappen..everytime he screws up(China-Baku)Vettel is on the receiving end. How many points has max deducted from Vettel over the last few seasons.

        4. Ferrari are ahead in qual & overall better on race pace. Good article by Mark Hughes F1–explains how Ferrai clearly the best car on the grid. That’s why Vet is confident. He knows this.

  2. @flatsix: In China the collision happened because he outbraked himself opening the gap for Verstappen to dive into – whilst the collision itself was entirely not his fault, he was at fault for creating the scenario in the first place.

    As for Baku: His explanation to find no reference points on the left side of the track is not sufficient for me. There were Whilst fighting for a championship, he will not win it taking the first opportunity for a win when a guarented second place will bag you lots of points too. He should also consider what he can lose and not only what he can gain. Secondly he said there was head wind on the long main straight – perfect opportunity for an overtaking maneuvre when not everyone is close behind you to gain from your mistake as right after the SC.

    In my view he is wasting opportunities for more points which is ironic given that he won the championship by a mere 4 and 3 points in 2010 and 2012 respectively – and he had the privilege to drive the best car in these years. Something he is not enjoying this year.

    I would be happy if he won the championship but I’m pessimistic with his attitude “I’m happier that I tried it than if I would not have done it” – it won’t be gaining him a 5th championship if the competition is that close.

    1. In China the collision happened because he outbraked himself opening the gap for Verstappen to dive into – whilst the collision itself was entirely not his fault, he was at fault for creating the scenario in the first place.

      Do not think so, but even so… it’s still completely VER fault in China for the collision. There was nothing more to ask from VET: he left enough space all around him. It was simply a very poorly “planned & arranged” move based entirely on the heat of the moment, his impatience, overconfidence and misjudgement. He must have thought his tyres and his car in general were in so much better shape that he can mount a succesful overtaking maneouver even from 50m behind. Obviously, it would have never worked like that. There’s one word that can describe something like that: stupid. VER is starting to look like that big bad joke, in Baku he took another step in this direction. It was obvious since 2016 Belgium that lifting off or braking on purpose on the straight to slow down the opponents it’s gonna backfire someday.

    2. Uh no, Verstappen was always going to catch Seb, because him and his team mate were on the better tire and that’s why they made it seem easy to pass everyone. It’s also why for most of the races this season, the last pit stop to ultra’s has been a key in maintaining a lead or winning.

  3. I’m not sure Seb should be quite so happy. After Baku, the luck probably balances itself out, but Hamilton, despite not being at the top of his game, is still leading the championship. I suspect he can improve his performances more than Seb can, and Ferrari aren’t necessarily the best at the development race. I think Hamilton and Mercedes probably have more upside from here. I wonder if the need to make the most of his current advantage was at the back of his mind when he launched himself up the inside of Bottas, instead of playing the percentage game.

    1. I also fear that Mercedes might become stronger later on and Vettel should have had a substantial points advantage right now (Could have been already 1 win ahead if he was more fortunate). However, I’m optimistic that Ferrari has more upside since they had changed more in their car compared to last year unlike Mercedes which is clearly just an evolution.

      1. Vettel gained as many points through good luck in australia as he lost in china, in fact if we assume vettel 3rd and raikkonen 2nd, even 3 more.

        Apart from that, ultimately threw away 20 points with his mistake in baku (from 1st to 4th and hamilton from 2nd to 1st), but obviously he couldn’t know bottas would’ve punctured and the accident that brought debris on the track hadn’t even happened yet.

  4. I agree that Vettel and Ferrari should be farther along points wise and assert that the real danger to both is Vettel’s spirit because he might not temper the urge to win whenever there is a chance to win rather than hold back and garner points .
    I admire Vettel for going for the win in Baku, that is what ” real” racers do and I have more respect for him now than ever before but, I hope for his sake and for Ferrari’s that he does not take too many risks and keeps in mind the fact that he races not only for himself but, for a team.
    I want to see Ferrari take the constructor’s title and I want to see either Vettel or Raikonnen take the driver’s title ( but concede that Vettel has a better chance then does Raikonnen .
    I don’t like Mercedes because I am one of the people who do believe tat they developed their hybrid PU for more than a decade ( as was reported ) before they petitioned F1 to use that format thus giving Mercedes an advantage that made them untouchable till now . I won’t support a team who does that AND has the largest support team ( 1,500 people ) to boot .
    Add to that I think that Vettel and Raikonnen , when compared to Hamilton and Bottas are much better representatives of what auto sport should be . I like Bottas but, Kimi is the “best” period , the ” ice-man” in every sense . As to Vettel he has faults no doubt but, his attempt to win a Baku shows he is made of what race drivers should be made of ,” go big or go home ” and as to Hamilton , he has talent but, that is it .
    Look at his 1st year in F1, the problems with Alonzo ( that reportedly Hamilton started ) and then the feud with Massa and the way he tried to cost Rosberg the title by backing Rosberg into the charging Ferrari’s at the last race and that was AFTER Rosberg let Hamilton pass him at Monaco giving Hamilton the race win. Team orders are only followed by Hamilton when those ordered help Hamilton . Note also that Patti Lowe left Mercedes after Hamilton refused to follow Lowe’s directives ,perhaps Lowe left for money perhaps for pride but, being ignored by the driver who is supposed to listen to you could not have helped .
    Anyway , there are all types of winning and for my money I hope Ferrari takes both titles this season but, even if they don’t they have already demonstrated that they are in many ways better than Mercedes .

    1. Richard
      What a weird reason not to support a team. They did not petition the FIA, the impression you give that they simply ordered the FIA (never mind the other power unit manufacturer who presumable did not have ideas of their own, & what was in their interests. They simply agreed to Mercedes’s pitch and whalla, here we are. Put it this way. When you negotiate, do you do so to your strengths, or those of your opponents? I think the idea is to do so to your strengths. That is the way the world works. Clearly you have a problem with that.

    2. Hamilton had every right to back rosberg into vettel in abu dhabi 2016, he should’ve won that title and was only behind him due to malaysia DNF, sure, there were other factors, but if you take that away, and rosberg had none of such, that makes hamilton champion, monaco isn’t comparable as it wasn’t the last race and rosberg was just plain slow on the wet that race.

      Also you said you admire vettel cause he takes risks even if sometimes they don’t pay off, hamilton is doing the same, locked tyres and ultimately lost time both in baku and australia to try and catch vettel.

    3. Such sour grapes!

  5. I also think Vettel is too optimistic. Could be that Ferrari have the best car right now, but as others have said, Mercedes is usually better at in season development. Then not being concerned when you could have been in the lead with 22-ish points compared to being 4 points behind now baffles me…

  6. In my opinion- these 1st 4 races VET/Ferrari should have romped away with it. Merc/Lewis will find their footing- with BOT seemingly in the mix as well. Kimi also seems to have his speed back. Clearly the Merc isn’t a bad car- its just struggling to get to grips with the Pirellis. I know AUS seems a life time ago now but that speed didn’t just disappear. I will never forget how Lewis took some of those corners flat- that downforce and efficiency hasn’t just evaporated.

  7. I wouldn’t worry about points to much either. It is more important to have a faster car at this point.

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