Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Shanghai International Circuit, 2019

Vettel defends decision to overtake Verstappen in qualifying

2019 Chinese Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel defended his driving in qualifying after Max Verstappen accused the Ferrari driver of spoiling his final run.

Verstappen backed off after being overtaken by Vettel shortly before beginning his final lap. The Red Bull driver was then unable to begin his last run before the chequered flag came out.

However Vettel said he had to overtake the Red Bull or he would also have run out of time to do a lap.

“Obviously everybody timed it around the same so we all left for the same spot,” he said. “If you were at the end of the train, which I was, then it was quite difficult.

“When the team told me we only had 10 seconds margin to cross the line in time to make another attempt I had to think of something. I don’t know if the others were not told if everyone would have speed up the way I did then we should have all made it.

“But I obviously prioritised at that point to make the lap. It felt like others were not aware.”

Vettel was able to complete his final lap in qualifying as did his team mate Charles Leclerc, who moved up to fourth place ahead of Verstappen.

“Of course when you then can’t finish your last lap, that’s how it is,” Verstappen complained. “You know that the guys who are doing a lap have a chance of overtaking you.”

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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...
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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48 comments on “Vettel defends decision to overtake Verstappen in qualifying”

  1. Vettel did right.
    “Loved” how Verstappen got absolutely mental on the radio.

    1. Irony in its highest form. Beautiful

      1. What irony? Silly to applaud a lack of sportsmanship on Vettel’s behalf. When Verstappen hit Vettel last year —which was a stupid mistake, we all know— he went straight up to him to apologise after the race. Vettel could have had the courtesy to do the same.

      2. Why is it ironic?

  2. Yeah, quite reasonable from Vettel there. Only thing extra he might have added (but maybe that’s for the internal debrief?) is that next time, perhaps they should not have cut it quite that close then; which is the advice I’d have given those others who didn’t make it (Hi Max).

    1. Jan-Marten Spit
      13th April 2019, 11:28

      Second GP in a row Vettel ruins other driver’s hot laps because he left the pits too late and starts panicking. It will come back to him. Things like this get sorted out on track.

      1. I love the experience you carry Jan-Marten. It seems to me like you are racing whole your life. Such wisedom.

        1. Jan-Marten Spit
          13th April 2019, 12:40

          The absence of argument is quite noticeable, but compensated by your imagination. You stand corrected.

      2. Vettel didn’t ruin anyone’s lap, verstappen ruined it himself by not starting the lap on time. The gentleman’s agreement works with 10 min left in qualifying but not with 15 seconds left.

        1. Jan-Marten Spit
          13th April 2019, 13:38

          You deny the fact, the fact remains. Vettel started his lap even later but you ignore that. To repair that error, vettel ruined verstappens lap, whilst ver was just waiting on leclerc ahead, and would have crossed the line on time.

          1. Then by your logic it’s not Vettel who left late, it’s Mercedes that slowed everyone down.

          2. Hi J-M S – Repeating your opinion until people are bullied into agreeing with you makes your argument boring not stronger…
            In comments sections people state their views, others agree or disagree… That’s all it is…

  3. “It felt like others were not aware.” – That’s part of VER. He doesn’t have any brain capacity left to think about and deal with non-standard circumstances. His level of awareness inside the car is way below average and his only trait that matches the top drivers, is quali speed.

    Funny, VERY funny thing happened during the dutch ziggo broadcast of quali, which I just saw. The commentator, a long-standing friend of the family who misses about 80% of what’s going on during a race, mentioned in Q2 that it doesn’t testify of great intelligence of drivers, when they miss out during quali bc of traffic (after he noticed how all drivers went out at the end of the session). And then, one session later, VER did exacly that. And what did he do? He tried to play down the whole thing, and when he took a while to think about it, blamed the team. Marvelous.
    Like my friend Fernando says: “Karma.”

  4. It’s Ferraris fault actually.. halfway down the out lap.. he realizes he isn’t where he should ideally be, tries to make up for it in the end, screwing other drivers lap in the process.. did it with Lando and grosjean in bahrain and now with Max. The team should have a sense of ideal window on the circuit, especially a team like Ferrari.

    1. @tifosiimran Wrong, 100% RBR’s and Haas’ fault. Had these two concerned teams sent their drivers out 30 seconds earlier then none of this would’ve happened.

      1. Jan-Marten Spit
        13th April 2019, 11:29

        Wrong, 100% vettel’s fault. Had Ferrari sent him out 30 seconds earlier he did not have to ruin other drivers laps – which he would never have done if he’d not be under so much pressure. Second GP in a row he misbehaves on track in Q3, and it will come back to him.

        1. Wrong, 100% FIA’s fault. Had FIA didn’t change tyre pressure for Mercedes benefit, Ferrari would still be the fastest car then none of this would’ve happened.

        2. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I’m with vettel and all other drivers that raced to get the last lap in. Verstappen was blocking them.

          1. Jan-Marten Spit
            13th April 2019, 13:41

            Whilst that red car of leclerc in front of ver was not there as it would destruct your argument. Fact juggling rooted in bias.

          2. Verstappen was blocking them.

            Great, some humor ;)

    2. @tifosiimran, I would have to say that, ultimately, the issue is that you have multiple teams trying to get their drivers into the same small section of track at the same time, such that there was always going to be a conflict over track position. When you say “The team should have a sense of ideal window on the circuit”, that applies to every single one of those teams, not just Ferrari.

      As Jere has noted, Red Bull and Haas chose to send their drivers out at the same time as everybody else, knowing that this was a potential risk – there have been multiple instances of drivers failing to set a lap time because they were slightly held up on their out lap.

      They were taking a calculated risk in sending them out at that time, and ultimately it backfired – you can criticise Ferrari, but Jere is right to note that Red Bull and Haas must accept that they put themselves in a bad position to begin with, especially since both teams knew that even the slightest issue for the driver sent out first was going to impact their team mate as well.

      1. Jan-Marten Spit
        13th April 2019, 12:44

        I you watched carefully, vettel was actually behind ver on the outlap. Yet you do not mention Ferrari put Vettel in a bad position.

        1. Your upset cos it was your driver that lost out. He will learn from it

          1. Jan-Marten Spit
            13th April 2019, 13:43

            It does not matter what the motivation for the correction is when the correction is justified. You are biased because your driver behaved hadly.

        2. J-M S – Is there any chance of you learning how to contribute to comments sections without ramming your thoughts down everyone’s throats…?
          It’s just F1, to be enjoyed – not a cure for cancer…!

  5. There, there. Don’t cry baby Max

  6. And who backed up the field knowing who was at the back ?
    Hamilton, of course. And Bottas behind him was told on the radio not to let anyone past…Verstappen should be upset with Mercedes, not Ferrari.

  7. This will become a “thing” for Vettel this season. A few others will feel they have a score to settle and Vettel Will get fucjed. (Unwritten) rules need to be respected, that was what Vettel and Räikkönen where claiming when Verstappen moved right before/in the braking zone … Now unwritten rules don’t apply because Ferrari sent out Vettel at the wrong time and others should either suffer or time their laps different? What a lunatic reasoning..

    1. @w0o0dy unwritten rules didn’t apply at the time either because max was ” a true racer” and they shouldn’t moan so much. That’s how max and his fans said it at the time. Yet today the shoe is on the other foot and look who moans about it.

      1. Jan-Marten Spit
        13th April 2019, 11:32

        That argument goes both ways – now suddenly the unwritten rules do not apply – now that max conforms to them , and Vettel does not. For the second GP in a row.

        1. Yes @jan it does go both ways. Except that it didn’t before this one. Let’s not forget the dutch way of telling everyone to shut up and just race “like max does”. Yet he didn’t. He never honoured gentlemen’s agreements. And like you said on another post here, things get settled on track. This is just another driver doing to max what max did many times before. And now that the shoe is on the other foot the dutch cry about it. Well, perhaps we have to use the same line now? Shut up and just let Seb race, like he did. 😉

        2. Wow Jan! That’s a mighty Man crush you got there. How many comments do you want to make with the same poor argument? Your boy lost out as RB, Ferrari and Haas took risks with the timing of putting their cars on track. Thing is…VET put right Ferraris error. VER didn’t. No biggie. For the record, as you seem very predictable, I dislike Ferrari with a passion. I have no particular connection with VET or VER either.

    2. Actually max did multiple blocks which are an Actual rule you can’t break. He didn’t get penalised when should have, ie Azerbaijan last year to his teammate, so this is ironic that he is not happy about this. I Bet verstappen would have done exactly the same as vettel if the positions were reversed.

      1. @KPCart: Not knowing what the rules are yet having an opinion… I think the stewards do know the rules.. so you are wrong.

        1. Yes! And said stewards had npthing to say about todays “incident”. Case closed then.

  8. Seems to me like he did the only sensible thing to do.

  9. I don’t mind overtaking on a warm-up lap; should be part of the challenge.
    Let them ‘fight’ a bit at the end of Q3. If you don’t like it then just leave the pit earlier.

    1. I agree with this.

      However, it seems more fair if everyone knows they have to fight. Right now, there seem to a few that think there are agreements of some sort not to fight. As I write this, it feels a bit like the multi-21 incident where Vettel fought, whilst Webber thought they wouldn’t and got surprised.

  10. georgeboole (@)
    13th April 2019, 13:07

    Maybe Verstappen was trying to do a Schumacher in Monaco blocking others’ lap but didn’t work as expected. Maybe not.
    The point is, as mentioned before, going out at the very end of the session is risky. And everyone involved knows it.

    1. Jan-Marten Spit
      13th April 2019, 13:45

      You just removed leclerc from reality – but reality says: denied.

      1. It’s official – you have just become the new No.1 boring ‘contributor’ (who actually contributes nothing) on this site… Well done… ;-)

  11. Panagiotis Papatheodorou (@panagiotism-papatheodorou)
    13th April 2019, 13:44

    I don’t why everyone moans so much about his choice to pass Max. Ferrari did a mistake and was clever enough to inform him about the need to speed up. Those are world-class drivers, they are selfish as hell, if they weren’t, they wouldn’t be in F1. Vettel knew: I either play the good guy, or lose much chance for pole”. Simple as that. Is it totally fair? No, it isn’t his fault though. The fault lies in Ferrari, Haas, Red Bull and Renault.

    1. Everybody is moaning because now we have opened a new chance to hamper anybodys chance for pole. You need a couple of seconds to get the air (turbulence) from the car just before you to calm. So if you overtake somebody in his line-up he is done. Now inthis case Ferrari made a stupid mistake they make somebody else pay for it.

    2. This is, I think, the best comment in this thread. You don’t get to F1 with having a huge ego in first place, and now, Vettel should get blame for acting egotistically? Where’s the common sense with that?

      Also, Ferrari did make a mistake. They had the common sense to correct it; which had the effect of compounding Red Bull’s (and Renault and Haas) own mistakes.

  12. I don’t really get all the fuss. It comes down to a tactical decision, made by the teams and their strategists, to maximize their lap time by choosing a supposedly ‘ideal’ moment to send out the cars. Multiple factors are involved – track evolution, space on track, temperatures and outlap pace, psychological advantage – that all coincide with other teams making the same decisions using much the same parameters. Mercedes realized they had the chance to squeeze Vettel for time and did so. He reacted correctly, passing Verstappen to ensure he put in a lap time. Verstappen’s problem not his. Mercedes really weren’t bothered about the rest. Of course now the other teams can and probably will try to do the same to them. Something they will clearly factor in next time! That’s how sports work.

  13. Bit of an own goal by Seb..

    He gains -at best- one place in qualifying for one GP.
    In return, Max will you-know-what-over his qualifying for the next 5.

    Way to go Seb!

  14. Whether there is or there isn’t an unwritten rule or gentlemen’s agreement about not passing each other on a warm-up lap, I just think leaving it this late isn’t worth the risk, period.

    Next time RBR should just go out a bit earlier and I guess all drivers now know that there are no unwritten rules (anymore) and just have to do what’s best for them.

    Having said all that, starting 5th or 4th isn’t that significant of a difference to what Verstappen can do in the race either way.

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