Vettel: No qualms about Belgian GP "roadblock" role
Sebastian Vettel says he took no issue with "playing roadblock" for Ferrari Formula 1 teammate Charles Leclerc in the Belgian Grand Prix.
Leclerc comfortably outpaced the former world champion in qualifying, and outran him again in the race.
Vettel had to make an early stop to cover off Lewis Hamilton, and after later letting Leclerc back into the lead on team orders he tried to keep the Mercedes driver behind for as long as he could.
That allowed his Monegasque teammate to extend his advantage, and Leclerc just managed to stay clear of Hamilton at the flag to score his first grand prix victory.
Vettel had to make a second pit stop that left him a distant fourth.
“I didn’t have the pace, I didn’t feel comfortable with the car,” said the German. “I was going through the tyres way too quick.
“I was struggling to feel the grip, to stay on top of the tyres, I was sliding too much. It was quite a tough race for me. And obviously from that point where we came in quite early it was clear that we won’t be there until the end. I guess I was sliding more [than Leclerc] but I don’t know why.
“Today was about the team. After the first couple of laps I felt I was not able to look after the tyres the way I would like, and from that point onwards I was just there to try and help the team, which I did.”
Vettel said he did his best to delay Hamilton in order to help Leclerc
“I was struggling in the corners, so that allowed him to get close. I couldn’t hold him off for a very long time. I tried to obviously make him lose time in order to give Charles a cushion, and in the end it was just enough, so it did the job.”
He added: “I couldn’t stay in range to look after myself, and after I was sort of playing a roadblock to make sure that Charles was gaining some time.”
Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto has no explanation for why Vettel struggled to match the pace of his teammate. Asked about the “big gap” between his two drivers, Binotto downplayed the scale of the discrepancy but conceded that the team didn’t understand it.
“First, I will not use the word ‘big’. But certainly Sebastian suffered more with degradation this weekend, on Friday and today during the race," Binotto said. "It’s certainly down to the set-up as well. Seb is normally very good at managing the tyres. Especially in the very first laps, somehow to use the tyres later in the stint.
“So it’s something we will take care to try to understand and analyse. And if we may learn it we will try to improve ourselves for the future. But so far, I have no answer.”
Podcast: Hubert Memories and Belgian GP Review
Verstappen unfazed by likely back-of-grid start at Monza