Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Paul Ricard, 2018

Vettel would have preferred worse start to avoid collision

2018 F1 season

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Sebastian Vettel has said he would have preferred a worse start to the French Grand Prix to avoid his disastrous collision with Valtteri Bottas that sent them both to the back of the field.

Despite recovering to fifth, Vettel is now 14 points behind race winner Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ championship and was handed a five second penalty for the first lap incident.

Asked about the collision he said “Well in the end, the way I look at it with hindsight, I would have liked to have a worse start, because then it would have been more straightforward, I wouldn’t be in that position.

“I haven’t seen it yet so I will look at it again, but from the inside it didn’t feel or didn’t appear that there was a lot I could have done differently. I tried to get out of it. Obviously you don’t hit the brakes 200 metres before the corner just because you think it could be a bad spot to be in, you still try to be competitive.

“But to be honest, I wasn’t attacking first, I was aware that Valtteri, and even I saw Max, would have a run around the outside because I’m stuck. But obviously it wasn’t enough but it’s just one of those things that sometimes goes wrong.”

Vettel said he had “very, very little” grip going into the corner and tried to back out from the move but too late to avoid Bottas – “In the end, there wasn’t that much I could have done different. Just the wrong place. Obviously what you don’t see is that I lose a lot of grip and as I said I saw it and I was aware so the two cars running around the outside trying to get there position on me, because I was stuck but I couldn’t slow down more than I did.

Obviously I lost the car and hit Valtteri, so I guess the rule is causing a collision and that’s what I did because I lost the car. But was it intentional? Certainly not, because it could as well have been the end of the race for me.”

Vettel said rival Hamilton did ‘a fair stint’ despite being gifted space by the collision and that it hadn’t been an easy win. “It’s difficult to say, but I think he was pushing. I just had a rough look at the lap times and I don’t think he was on holiday because obviously Max was putting pressure from behind, so I think it’s a fair stint.”

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Author information

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...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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51 comments on “Vettel would have preferred worse start to avoid collision”

  1. Of course he would, but therein lies his biggest weakness.

    1. @darryn In what lies his biggest weakness?

      1. The red mist.

        1. Have you heard Toto Wolf laughing st Ferrari’s chioce of tyres for their start????
          These ill intentional persons were planning to make slower start.
          This was planned by snails from Merz.
          Lauda wants punishment.
          For whom?
          For Brit definitely…
          How FIA is going to react on lewis comment in front of Max looking at the start after race?
          You are slow and crazy Brit..
          You cannot and will never have what Sebastian Vettel and Kimi have.

          1. You cannot and will never have what Sebastian Vettel and Kimi have.

            Sound truly romantic! Or maybe you mean faulty spark plugs. Free gelati whenever they want?

      2. @flatsix he says

        “you don’t hit the brakes 200 metres before the corner just because you think it could be a bad spot to be in, you still try to be competitive”

        which in plain language means: I know there’s going to be trouble but I still go for it. So maybe he’s just plain stupid.

    2. @darryn Well it didn’t turn out so bad for Sebastian did it? Ruined his and Bottas races, but managed to finish ahead of Bottas in 5th place courtesy of a shockingly weak penalty, and overtake assistance from Ferrari’s B and C teams Sauber and Haas. So no… not a bad day at all.

      1. Same assists Merc got off Force India in Monaco. Mercs engine upgrade and bespoke tyres didnt give them a very big advantage like expected but then its a German engine so under the current climate its hard to get cheat device on it.

        1. Bespoke Tyres? Are you on drugs?

          Also I think Bottas would have liked an undamaged car to race with…

      2. Pretty bad I’d say, he lost 15 points to Hamilton who is his rival for the title, had he braked earlier then at worst he loses 10 points and possibly gains.

        You have to play the long game in F1 and use your brain, Vettel fails here again.

  2. Or maybe use the brake well before you hit another car for a change? It really cannot be that difficult for an F1 driver to avoid running into an other car.

    1. Justin (@boombazookajd)
      24th June 2018, 19:42


      You mean like how Vettel actually began braking before Bottas and clearly lost grip? New track surface, cold brakes, a corner that clearly doesn’t do the person on the inside (Vettel) any favors, and two gents racing, yes this stuff happens, it’s part of racing. I’d have liked both drivers to have come out of T1 unscathed but we don’t always get what we want. Seb made a mistake, as they all do from time to time.

      1. steveetienne
        24th June 2018, 19:53

        He just seems to make them a little more often than the other top drivers, except Verstappen

        1. Justin (@boombazookajd)
          24th June 2018, 19:59

          Which is fair, but you’re also talking about a guy who has the entire weight of the Ferrari team on his back. Lewis can afford to be a bit more relaxed with Bottas on the team. Plus, you can also argue that given Seb is in the position he is in, he’s bound to make mistakes at a higher rate than Lewis. I’ll take Seb being a bit risky over Raikkonen’s lack of ANY overtakes on the opening lap this year and his inability to qualify on the front row, let alone the second.

          1. @boombazookajd I agree that it is a good thing that Vettel threw away last years WDC with all the incidents he caused.

            Still, I can understand even more that the people/teams he rams into aren’t that pleased about it.

          2. ADUB SMALLBLOCK
            24th June 2018, 21:40

            Bottas is only 9 points ahead of Kimi in the standings, so I don’t think you can say that Seb has “the entire weight of the Ferrari team on his back” as if Lewis had so much more help with Bottas.

        2. “He just seems to make them a little more often than the other top drivers, except Verstappen”

          Wich is in fact the picture the media painted, in reality Verstappen only hit 3 drivers in his complete F1 career
          Monaco 2015 > Grosjean, no damage done to Grosjean’s car though
          Hungary 2017 > Ricciarod who DNF-ed
          China 2018 > Vettel, no damage done to Vettel’s car though

      2. @boombazookajd Vettel keeps acting like he can’t help running into other cars about 2 or 3 times per season. I’m pretty sure most other drivers CAN. Why is it almost always Vettel doing this and why is it never his fault?

        It’s almost hilarious how you give a list of reasons why Vettel should be more cautious and then you don’t understand that Vettel indeed should learn to actually BE cautious. Instead he keeps ramming other cars and keeps blaming circumstance.

        1. It was stated by the stewards that it was his fault. That being said, Vettel simply needs to push beyond the limit if he wants to win the championship. Remember how much Rosberg needed to beat Hamilton, with the same spaceship. We all agree that Raikkonen is a great driver, on a great car too. But he is light years from thinking about being WC. Vettel needs to give more than everything and doing this he makes mistakes. And it’s ok.

          1. Sorry, when did RAI become one of the greats?? I reckon half the grid would out pace him. When was the last time he beat a teammate over a season?

  3. He could have backed out earlier but that’s a problem with Vettels race craft. We saw simmilar in Baku where he also went in much more than he needed to. It’s been costly for him so far this season.

    1. See @boombazookajd his very good explanation in the instance you’re open for a reason.

      1. All I see there @flatsix is someone making excuses. Surely 4x world champion should factor all those things in before making an attempted overtake. If anything these points make it worse as it’s surely more obvious Vettel should have been far less aggressive.

    2. Justin (@boombazookajd)
      24th June 2018, 19:56

      Could have, should have, if’s and but’s were candies and nuts. Look, we’ve all been clamoring for some proper racing and Seb backed out much sooner than Bottas, he just lost the grip. This crap happens to everyone, he got his penalty and lost his championship lead. Baku was completely different; Seb was actually caught out by how soon Bottas began braking, which is why he ducked to the inside and had to brake so late. If you see some of the replay’s you can also see Seb look to his mirror to find Lewis just before Bottas braked. These are just humans man, and they are trying to race as closely as possible, right on the limit.

      1. Ahh, so it’s Bottas fault that Vettel made the mistake @boombazookajd

        That Ferrari profile pic really matches you’re Ferrari tinted glasses and bias.

  4. Looked to me like the Mercedes drivers boxed Vettel in there, wonder if it was pre-planned?

    Worked for one of them!

    1. Exactly it was a pre planned move.

    2. @davidjwest

      Bottas and Hamilton are supposed to box Vettel in. It is what teammates are expected to do. If they get good starts it benefits them both. Especially since Vettel was on faster tires.

  5. Or he could have taken a tighter line, or braked earlier. It’s the FIRST corner, be a little cautious. Don’t need to risk every single time. Really bad mistake, no excuses for it. Lenient punishment, as expected.

    1. By side swiping Bottas?

      1. If you want to be technical, Bottas swiped Vettel– But Bottas was well ahead into the corner, and had the right to the line he was on. If Bottas had 360-degree vision, he might have realized Vettel was in his way, and run wide (since Paul Ricard encourages off-track excursions), but he was too focused on making the apex of the corner.

        Vettel should have known he was too close, and backed out a bit more.

        All personal opinion of course.

  6. Ok, hitting Bottas can be viewed as a racing incident, but what was his reasons for hitting Grosjean? He ruined 2 other drivers race today

    1. Nikos (@exeviolthor)
      25th June 2018, 9:40

      The way I look at it is that when he hit Bottas he was clearly at fault so he was penalised for it. When he collided with Grosjean it is not clear that he was predominantly at fault.

  7. I watched and praised Vettel’s driving skills over the years but his blunders while with Ferrari are convincing me he is just plain old overrated.

    This isn’t the first time he has shown bad judgement on starts. He knows the race isn’t decided at the first corner yet he overreacts and loses control of the car. To make matters worse, as he starts to work his way up from the back of the field, he plays chicken with Alonso, banging wheels and luckily escapes without damage.

    Ferrari would be wise to look long and hard at RIC at this point. His driving skills are better and he’s got his head on straight.

    I would think Maranello is not going to be happy about today.

  8. Wow, with comments like these I thought I’d accidentally gone to Zac’s website! I expect more from what was F1fanatic!

    1. Why? I have been a visitor to this site since late 2008 and the level of discussion has barely, if at all, changed from back then. Things are as they always were.

      1. @klon Really? I don’t experience that at all?

        We went from a very civilised small group to 1) a lot of people who didn’t like Vettel ’cause it was only the car, to 2) a lot of people saying the same again about Hamilton + the absolute rise in vocal Hamilton fans to 3) a ridiculously environment where you cannot say something about Vettel or Hamilton without that also meaning you hate the other from the deepest of your heart to 4) the overall level of comments is reduced to shouting your opinion without substance and nothing more, and that’s where we are today.

        The amount of accounts I see has risen, the level of quality posts however have not.

        1. @flatsix Come on man, just face reality. Vettel deserves every bit of flak he gets for ramming into Bottas like a crashkid (and later into Grossjean too for good measure). That you don’t want to hear that doesn’t mean it’s “low quality” posts.

          It’s the other way around. That you defend such poor driving as if nothing wrong happened really IS “low quality”.

          1. @patrickl I did not defend his mistake (see my comment on the summary), neither did I say he needed a lesser penalty, also I wasn’t even referring to you with the low quality posting though you did present another good example just there accusing me of something I did not do.

          2. @patrickl And I very much want to highlight it’s on all fronts, not just a Ham vs. Vet battle. Towards F1, towards Pirelli, towards others,…

          3. @flatsix Well you referred to bazookasomething’s “very good explanation” of what was essentially a ridiculous list of excuses. Or rather, reasons Vettel gave why he should have been more cautious, but as usual wasn’t going to be … and he crashed into someone again. Two this time in fact. In one lap.

            I didn’t say you were referring to me, but are you seriously pretending that your complaining about low quality posts has nothing to do with the fact that Vettel is getting a lot of flak for crashing again?

            Besides, the only thing that changed since 2008 is that you became a fan of Vettel. The bashing of other drivers has always been going on. It’s just that you probably didn’t care so much about those drivers.

          4. @patrickl It is a half decent explanation though. Vettel had the best start of the three, got boxed in very effectively, tried to escape from it by braking earlier, rolled into the corner a tad to fast and ended up locking up on the dirty side of the track. That’s what happened, and it was foolish, shouldn’t have happened and he got a penalty for it as the stewards decided he could’ve avoided it. That’s how I see it.

            But as per usual we need to pull out all the superlatives ‘always crashing’, ‘crashkid’, and let’s not forget the standard to refer to a season nearly a decade ago as if drivers don’t grow or change. That’s the low quality I’m talking about.

            Also I haven’t really been a fan of Vettel since ever. To begin with I’m an avid Webber fan, and on todays grid I don’t find any driver really to my liking, however Vettel seems to align best with what I look for in my favourite. I’m also not at all a Ferrari fan, see avatar.

            I didn’t say you were referring to me, but are you seriously pretending that your complaining about low quality posts has nothing to do with the fact that Vettel is getting a lot of flak for crashing again?

            Yes, your constant narrative is I do everything out of the motive I love Vettel and have a continuous anti-Hamilton agenda. Everything I say must be a result of either of those two ideas, and that’s simply not correct. I thoroughly enjoy a good discussion, they’re just happening less and less on this forum, which I for example don’t notice on another forum I actively visit, which by incident has 90% Hamilton fans.

          5. @flatsix No it is not. It’s a perfectly good explanation why Vettel should not have aimed for the outside of the corner. Yet he did so anyway. AGAIN!

            That’s not a mitigating circumstance, it just shows insanity. Trying the same silly moves over and over expecting a different result.

  9. Vettel made a mistake, the important aspect is that he learns from it. The worrying thing for Ferrari is that Sebastian does this too often compared to Hamilton. Pound for pound I think there is not much between the two in terms of raw speed, but Lewis appears more level headed in high pressure situations compared to the German.
    As others have suggested, being Ferrari’s main hope in the championship is no doubt one of the hottest seats in motor sports in the world. For all of Fernando Alonso’s skill, even he did not win a title with a Ferrari.
    Following the dominance experienced in the Schumacher era, it seems that the boots are just a little too big to fill. This is just not down to the driver. Ferrari are not the same team they were without Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne, and Jean Todd calling the shots.
    How many times do we see Ferrari make strategic mistakes with both Vettel and Raikkonen at times in recent seasons? Mistakes that they very rarely made fifteen years ago when they were in their pomp.

    1. Vettel has been crashing into other cars throughout his whole F1 career. Go back to the 2009 season. People say that Button only won because he had the fastest car winning 6 out of the first 7 races. In reality, he won that WDC because Vettel had a car that wasn’t much slower but where Button did manage to overtake, Vettel couldn’t. More importantly, Vettel crashed out of 3 of those first 7 races. Zero points scoring is much more costly than simply bringing it home and picking up whatever was available.

  10. This is turned out to be perhaps the most error prone year I’ve ever seen from Vettel. Last year he more less threw away the WDC. This year he has thrown away at least two victories and at least two podiums. Except for Spain and France he’s had a dominant car or a car that could have won every race. If the Mercedes upgrade worked as it appears, Vettel threw away a key advantage.

  11. “I would’ve liked to have worse corner entry speed, because then it would’ve been more straightforward.” says every driver who goes off and crash. Brilliant excuse. Seb should become a politician, since he can talk better than drive.

  12. Whenever Vettel tries to be a hero, he makes a mistake. Every single time.
    Definitely not his thing.
    His thing is to start on pole, decimate the opposition, bring it home.

  13. The margin in class between Vettel and Hamilton gets bigger and bigger as time goes on. As baby schumi he really hasn’t lived up to his pet name has he? When can he really challenge Hamilton over the entire course of the season? Gone past his prime maybe?

  14. I think VES caused VET’s crash but not in the way you think. I think VES is into VET’s head big time.

    At the start I think Vettel was OK with being behind HAM and even BOT. What he was trying to avoid was letting VES get ahead of him because he knew he couldn’t pass him.As a result he over drove and ended up taking out BOT and ruined his race and others.

    The pressure he is under from Ferrari must be immense – the Italian press aren’t happy, the Tifosi aren’t happy and Maranello aren’t happy. He has little margin for error or he will start hearing RIC’s name just like ALO heard VET’s name towards the end of his tenure with Red.

    The question is can he handle the pressure or will he crack? If recent events are indicators (Baku, Singapore), things don’t look so good.

Comments are closed.