Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Spa-Francorchamps, 2019

Vettel pleased to help Leclerc win by holding Hamilton up

2019 Belgian Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel says he was pleased he could “serve the team” by delaying Lewis Hamilton in his pursuit of Charles Leclerc.

The Ferrari driver said it was clear from the first lap of the race he was not quick enough to be in contention for victory. He made his first pit stop before his team mate and the Mercedes drivers, and although he inherited the lead of the race as a result, he had to let his team mate by.

Vettel said he was happy “for the team” but “obviously for myself I’m not happy.”

“I didn’t have the pace,” he explained “I was struggling to stay on top of the tyres which normally is not a problem at all. So it was a tough race.

“Obviously from some point onwards, from the first lap onwards, it was clear we won’t be in the fight. So all I could do by then was serve the team.”

After letting Leclerc through Vettel then managed to resist Hamilton for several laps.

“I was struggling in the corners so that allowed him to get close and then I couldn’t hold him off for a very long time,” said Vettel. “I tried to obviously make him lose time in order to give Charles a cushion.”

Hamilton took over a second per lap out of Leclerc at the end of the race and took the chequered flag less than a second behind the Ferrari. “In the end there was just enough so I did the job.”

Leclerc, who scored his first race victory, thanked his team mate afterwards. “Seb has been very nice and without him I think it would have been a lot more difficult to win this race so thanks to him,” he said.

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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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58 comments on “Vettel pleased to help Leclerc win by holding Hamilton up”

  1. Very true, Hamilton was in drs range in the final lap. Another lap more and he would have gotten through.

    1. If, but, maybe. HAM fan gravy. Am I a poet? No. :)

    2. Yes and the traffic helped quite a lot.
      I made a mistake on my predictions champ, got blindsided by pirelli tyre selection, I totally forgot Vettel has been nowhere when the tyre selection has been c1,2 and 3. He’s useless some weekends.

  2. Yet another time you are in a position to win a race Seb you’re car had a huge advanatage in qualifying and you were 7 tenths behind you’re 2nd year teammate. leclerc really has been the quicker driver overall this season interms of raw pace imo. Was robbed of a win in Bahrain where he overtook his teammate and Ferrari saved his blushes today as he woulda done the same. Not a good year for Vettel as ever proving what a rocketship Ferrari had in 2018.

    Vettel has had alot of help by his team, Vettel absoloute chewed his tryes, eambarassing how quickly Leclerc wiped like 6 seconds in 3 laps is 7 laps of tyres really worth that? If Kimi in Seb were in Ferrari again we would hear comments like F1 is so boring bla bla we never seen the benchmark in Ferrari last year when Vettel is winning alot of races and throwning them away it shows what a great job Hamilton done last year. What agreat race by him today as well absoloute killed it if not for the strategy of leaving him out too long he could of won. Well Done Leclerc great job on a tough day.

    1. Dude, you got it wrong. It’s obvious Ferrari goes 1 step more backwards with the pace in race trim compared to the opposition. Truth is, from being 0.75sec slower in Quali, HAM was faster over 44laps than LEC. So, following your logic and what actually happened on-track (LEC lost too all that speed from Quali!!!), LEC messed up too. More exactly, given his Quali advantage, LEC should have finished 20sec ahead of HAM. So, since he finished only 1sec… that’s a failure, no?! And it almost was a true failure because VET did give him a helping hand for the win. Without VET, almost sure LEC would have finished 2nd… again.

      1. @mg1982 Yeah because Hamilton is rapid in race pace if Vettel did not make a mistake maybe he could have 1 stopped. And nothe defence was overrated he had a ridicoolous pace straight line advantage and Hamilton made a mistake trying to stay close. The pass was on once and he passed him it is not like Ham had multiple chances that Vet defended from he gets zero credit. If Vettel was so good he would not be 13 races in and not have a victory when he had legitamately 3 chances. He choked Canada and if he is better than Leclerc he would have won Bahrain and here but he has not.

        1. Poor Dan. A beer short of a 6-pack

        2. Man you understand F1 as much as I understand astrophysics

  3. Vettel is now a wingman.

    1. Also he’s not bad for a number 2

  4. Whats going on with Seb? No qualifying pace, no race pace and not keeping tyres in good shape. Is he lacking motivation? Next week again Ferrari is favorite for the win and if he doesn’t win then it’s looking really bad.
    Had Charles had better luck at Bahrain and Austria, he would have been on 3 wins to Seb’s none.
    Seb’s dip in form is a bit like 2014 against Ricciardo where he was soundly beaten.

    1. Both Ferraris were harder on tyres. What helped Leclerc was the long safety car and Vettel holding off hamilton for a lap or two. Else that straight line speed is useless even on track where Ferraris were supposed to fly off into distance.

      1. You’re right, forgot about the SC period.

    2. @amg44 The dip as been since 2013 he has had good races very sporadically he as lost a title in a faster car. Hamilton absoloutely won the title in the 2nd best car last year. Every one says it apart from Vettel fans stuck in 2012 where they thought there golden boy was much a better driver. Now Hamilton has the hardware advanatage in statisitics he has no answer. I remember the days they use to scream haha 4-1 4-1(in titles) i use to say even then Hamilton is better and much better i was convinced of it.

      I believe Vettel could beat Hamilton if they were teammates in a season they have both been beaten but with Vettel it is different. Hamilton has never been outclassed in pace like Vettel has. Vettel could not even win a race in 2013, Ricciardo won 3. He may have his second year where his teammate has won a race and he has won none, would not happen with someone like Hamilton.

      History will shown Vettel needs much older teammates to dominate anyone same age and he cannot do it or if there younger. Kimi and Webber he would love as a teammate.

      1. vettel won 13 races in 2013 mate.
        you clearly don’t know what you are talking about

        1. The only mistake he makes is to write 2013 when he means 2014. Everything else is spot on.

          1. Jonathan Edwards
            1st September 2019, 19:37

            Not really. Actual analysis on this site by Keith, as well as on virtually every other F1 site, concluded that the Mercedes was quicker last year. Vettel also led the way with the number of times he nailed his personal best sectors in qualifying last year. He certainly isn’t doing that this year, which suggests he’s not as attuned to the 2019 Ferrari. It also suggests he was maximizing the pace last year, in a futile attempt to beat Hamilton, who’s probably a quicker driver , in what was also a quicker car.

            And regardless of team orders, Leclerc hasn’t dominated Vettel in sheer pace the way many on this site have concluded he has. On balance, they’ve been incredibly close. Which sort of hurts the argument that Charles is the second coming, if he’s equal in pace to a washed up Vettel.

          2. @JonathanEdwards . Do you know where the ratings come from ? On pace? They are based on the drivers best Laps. WE don’t drive the cars so we don’t really know which car is better but obviously the driver with the most wins and poles is probably going to “the faster driver”.

    3. Been thinking a lot about Sebs performance this year and obviously the off year he had in 2014 (particularly).

      Reminds me a bit of what you hear being said about Button, where if the car was where he wanted it, he could be supremely quick but if the balance wasn’t there he was less able to drive around the imbalance.

      Lewis seems more capable of doing that than Seb. And I wonder if LeClercs “advantage” this season is that the 2019 Ferrari is just not as easy to set up in that sweet spot that Vettel may need?

      By no means am I an expert, just my two cents worth.

  5. I really like Leclerc. He’s done fantastically and honestly seems to be Ferrari’s future. But I do get a bit confused why some fans/commentators can’t seem to elevate Leclerc without tearing Vettel down? Like the guy is obviously struggling – either with tyres, pressure, or has started to fall out of love with F1 entirely. Whatever’s going on his performances aren’t Gasly bad, they’re just ‘okay’ – and either way the pair of them represent a really strong pairing. Surely what we want to see is both Ferraris doing well, not just one of them and attacking the other?

    1. I’m not sure if they set out to tear Vettel down when heaping praises on Leclerc. I just feel many race fans are shocked at how Vettel seems to be under performing in comparison to his inexperienced team mate.
      Lets not forget Vettel is earning many millions of dollars and was supposed to restore Ferrari’s pride, then he lost his composure along the way.

      1. my guess is vettel is not good with low downforce cars, in 2014 the cars didnt have that much downforce compared to the already refined cars of the v8 era..and also the power unit had more torque, in 2015 we started seeing the regular vettel… and this year less downforce for everybody and ferrari came with even less downforce we see a vettel better than 2014 but underperforming, leclerc do a bit better cuz lower class formula have also lower downforce his body probably remember that easier … and despite of that is not like leclerc is annihilating vettel.. next year gonna be a real benchmark we could evaluate them better, dont know about 2021 vettel could retire of move to another team

    2. totally agree. the amount of hate Vettel receives recently is way too much

    3. Of course Vettel gets roasted more than others, he’s driving for FERRARI, the only team on the grid that has actual diehard fans. Other teams are not supported to anywhere near the extent of their drivers.

      He also takes home the 2nd largest pay packet in F1 at 30 million yet spins and spins and crashes and underperforms for years now and people don’t think he deserves it.

  6. This is exactly what Charles did not or could not do (to protect Vettel) in Canada.

    1. @alexde Nope Hamilton had one chance to overtake Vet and he did he made a mistake trying to stay close stop overrating it when he has a ridicolous engine advantage. Vettel chucked the win away Canada through another mistake like today. Leclerc locks breaks to so does Hamilton Vettel is always in the worst place with calamitous results like today. He was locked into a 2 stop because his own mistake remeber that. Beaten by over half a second to 2 year guy he was utterly embarassed just like Bahrain

      1. Jonathan Edwards
        1st September 2019, 19:42

        Blinded by your strange obsession with tearing Vettel down, you completely missed the point. The original poster is arguing that Leclerc wasn’t on the pace in Canada, and thus wasn’t able to act as a buffer as Vettel did in this race. In other words, Vettel, though off the pace in this race, was close enough to help his teammate. Which the OP suggests wasn’t the case when the roles were reversed.

      2. charles didnt have to deal with basically the entire race alone with hamilton close and bottas no so far like seb did in canada.. if leclerc was alone in the same situation he would crumble too.. he kind of did in austria with not so many laps of verstappen behind..

        that was vettel problem all the years with kimi, when seb was fighting the merc for a 2nd place or victory… kimi was busy fighting for 5th place with a redbull so no help at all for strategy or shield and then people say vettel only beat kimi cuz team orders lol.. the guy had 2 o 3 sporadic races where he was good

  7. Still think Leclerc would have won, because the Ferrari had so much straight-line speed and the tyre difference between him and Hamilton wasn’t that big. Hamilton only got round Vettel because he was able to set the move up with a better exit from Stavelot/Paul Frere the lap before, which allowed him to compromise Vettel’s lines through the chicane and La Source and get within range on the straight. Don’t think he had a sufficiently large pace advantage over Leclerc to do that to him.

    But obviously it made things a little easier.

    1. He would have gotten DRS in the last lap, and probabaly would overtake Leclare.

    2. He lost almost 4 seconds to Leclerc which he had to recover. To recover that amount of time indicates quite a bit of pace advantage, also, it having to close 6+ seconds on a driver with tires of the same age will obviously not help the tire situation . Had he not lost the time behind Vettel I think it’s easy to realize he probably would have cleared Leclerc and pulled a couple of seconds on him

    3. Leclerc was just managing the gap. No way hamilton would have passed him.

  8. Have to be realistic with Ferrari’s goals the second half of the season, too far behind in the championships and with zero wins, today was all about getting that first race win of 2019. Keeps the fans and sponsors happy. All focus should be on turning up at Australia 2020 with a car that can compete.

    1. Indeed, and maybe a 2nd win at monza, and if ever verstappen and mercedes blunder, a fortuitous win, that’s it with ferrari 2019 design, it’s been clear since a while that it’s a car that only has the engine.

  9. The only good thing he has done for Ferrari all year. I’m just happy Ferrari finally have a driver capable of winning a title in a non dominant car

    1. Saving their butts in Germany counts as well. Let’s not forget Charles crashing out and Vettel picking up the pieces there. You can praise one driver by not tearing down another.

    2. A title.. Wow. Your making a giant leap there.
      Charles is very error-prone, Baku, Monaco, Germany to name a few.
      There still is a lot to learn for him.

      1. Right! He barely squeaked out a win on Hamilton under optimal conditions for the car and with Vettel holding Hamilton up a few seconds. Gonna take a bit more to win a WDC.

  10. Well I never, the great Sebastian Vettel reduced to being used as a sacrificial lamb to win the race for his quicker team-mate. You don’t see many multiple World Champions doing that.

    None in fact.

    1. I cannot imagine Alonso, Hamilton or Verstappen (even though he’s not a WDC yet) ever doing that. Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

    2. Jonathan Edwards
      1st September 2019, 19:45

      Absurd. The list of teammates helping their WC winning teammates strategically is long. As is the actual relevant argument, which is the number of times multiple WDC’s have been beaten in races by their teammates.

  11. VET makes a mistake, everybody trash him. VET helps his teammate, everybody trash him. Give the guy a break.

    1. Agreed!
      Some “fans” only seem to be able to put other drivers down.

      1. Blaize Falconberger (@)
        1st September 2019, 19:32

        Vet should be doing better. He has no excuses.

    2. He helped his teammate because he put himself in that position.

      Don’t act like Vettel went out of his way to be a hero.

      1. He helped his teammate because he put himself in that position.

        Don’t act like Vettel went out of his way to be a hero.

        Exactly this. Sebfosi out here pretending like he intended to chew his tyres up like that, no. He blew it as usual.

  12. I don’t think the Hybrid era has been a good one for Vettel. Wasn’t comfortable at RB and its been a struggle at Ferrari. I think today’s acts were more strategy from the pit wall which was totally the right call and is the mindset that Ferrari need to adopt to properly challenge Mercedes.

    Charles was perfect pretty much all weekend and more importantly delivered when they needed him to.

  13. Blaize Falconberger (@)
    1st September 2019, 19:30

    Yeah, yeah Seb… a poor attempt at saving face… Thoroughly upstaged by LeClerc and the slower Mercedes…

  14. :D Strategy team got it wrong somewhat for Vettel, but if they did that on purpose to protect Charles then good job. In any case Charles would have done it regardless of that help. He was gonna win the race no matter what or crash in to Hamilton bumping wheel to wheel Verstappen style.

    To me though It just looked like Ferrari gotting it wrong on Vettel side. Maybe there was no right strategy for him, because he was somewhat off pace. The only really good thing they did to my surprise was switching position right away when Charles came up behind Vettel. That was very impressive. I am proud of Ferrari team and both drivers for doing that so fast and executing on them with near 0 time loss for faster driver.

    But for those Naysayers who say Vettel is outclassed this season by Leclerc better look at the scoreboard. Charles is a rookie, car is poorly compromised by low drag priority, Vettel is unable to be Vettel in it and is thus poor. Remarkably point difference between the two is small, both have a long way to go in improving themselves. Charles naturally mostly only has upside, Vettel will improve once the car becomes better.

    And how good will Charles be in a properly good car?

    1. The strategy team got it right for Vettel.
      He had somewhat damaged his tyres or was just lacking in pace. Whatever strategy they could have adopted other than the one they did was still going to get him no higher than 4th position, because he was dropping further behind Leclerc and was likely to get over taken by the Mercedes.

    2. The difference between Vettel and Charles is massive.

      It’s 6 in a row that Charles out outqualified him and at points by ridiculous margins.

      The only reason the points gap is close is because Charles has been screwed by Ferrari team orders for the first half of the season and some terrible luck (Bahrain).

    3. Think leclerc is pretty good, in answer to your question, nowadays without alonso any more and with norris, russel, albon not yet proven in top cars, I think it’s hamilton vs verstappen and only one who can match them on the same car is leclerc; vettel, bottas and the others are clearly under.

  15. Please stop these golden words, rocketship is mercedes , when a team wins 5, 1-2 out of 5 what it really means ? Ferrari and Charles owe this win to vettel but vettel is not in his best shape and it,s so obvious there’s something wrong maybe in his car, his style of driving in terms of what car he needs, his relationship with ferrari and so on , who knows? This vettel is not the one we knew

  16. Can’t help but feel if the roles were reversed between the two drivers in todays race, everyone would lose their minds over team orders. Either way, that wont stop Seb from getting criticism much like Max and Hamilton.

    Personally, I think the faster driver won today fair and square. Hopefully Charles continues the momentum onto Monza.

    Seb seems to be locking up waaaaay too much this season. Very uncharacteristic of him.

  17. Now he understands multi 21.

  18. While I’m extremely happy for LEC getting his first win(and Ferrari finally getting its first win this season!), I’m still troubled by Ferraris lack of race pace, especially on the Yellows. HAM was almost a sec a lap quicker at the end on the same tires with 1 lap age difference. If VET didn’t hold up HAM for those couple of laps, it would have been Austria all over again. The Merc is still superior on race pace as long as they can keep the temps down, which was not a problem at Spa.

    Also interested to think how VER would have figured in this race.

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