Vettel: Hamilton cost me shot at victory
11 July 2011
Whilst acknowledging that his tardy second pit-stop had played a large part in handing Fernando Alonso the British Grand Prix initiative, Sebastian Vettel also pointed to Lewis Hamilton's spirited defence of second place as a factor in denying him a seventh win of the season.
After qualifying, many were writing off McLaren's chances of being competitive at its home event, but Hamilton, in particular, refused to simply lie down and collect whatever points came his way. Vaulting almost immediately from tenth to fifth, he gradually became more of a factor, passing Alonso on the road in the early stages, and then forcing the three podium finishers to retake him in an effort to move up the order. Only an instruction to monitor his fuel consumption slowed Hamilton in the closing stages, but he still managed to finish fourth after fending off Felipe Massa at the final turn.
"I lost a lot to Fernando behind Lewis," Vettel admitted, "I couldn't get past initially, and it gets more difficult. I lost the front tyres right behind him as I was so close, and it wasn't easy to attack. I had one chance into Copse, but I think, in hindsight, my exit [from Woodcote] was too good.
"I thought it was the only place where I could try something but, on that lap, I think I had too good an exit, got off the corner very well and was too close. I was sitting behind and, in the right kink where the old pit building is, you cannot do anything. I was too close to use my momentum later on, as I had to lift and I don't think there was much left. We don't see the front wing, but it was very close...."
Despite that, Vettel also admitted that Ferrari had been a worthy adversary on a circuit where the Prancing Horse had not been expected to excel.
"You have to accept Ferrari beat us fair and square today," he maintained, "It was not only in this race, as I think there has been a certain trend over the last couple of races. They have been very strong on race day, and generally improving their car, so it shows us we need to keep on working very hard and keep pushing very hard so it is the other way around again."
The German found himself involved in another slice of Silverstone controversy at the very end of the race, as he rebuffed team-mate Mark Webber's advances on second place. The fact that the Australian was being told to hold station added another dimension to their battle, which took place some 17secs behind the fleeing Alonso and was brought on by rapidly fading tyres.
"Once we got [Hamilton] at the [third and final pit-] stop, I had to do a longer stint at the end," the reigning world champion revealed, "Mark was closing in in the last three or four laps, and he was quicker, but we could stay ahead. He was in a similar position with tyres, so it's not as if only I was struggling, but, towards the end, I just tried to get the car to the chequered flag because there was no chance of catching up 15 seconds in 15 laps. I was quite isolated at the end, then I lost quite a lot in the last two laps compared to Mark.
"Obviously, we were racing each other, [and] I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but, from a team point of view, if you have the cars quite isolated in second and third, [when] the first car is away [and] the fourth car is pretty far away as well, there's no point in racing and trying to do something stupid because the points for the team are the same.
"Clearly, you could see he was quicker at that stage but, if I wasn't racing, I would just wave him past. The last thing you want is to do something bad for the team. If it would be the other way round, of course, I would like to overtake Mark at that stage, but there's no point trying to do something stupid, especially from a team point of view, so I don't see why there is a big fuss really.
"I think we were racing - it was not a scheduled 'I move right, you move left, I move left, you move right, I brake here, you brake there'. As Mark said, he stayed flat out and tried to race me, as hard as he could, didn't find his way past. To me, at this stage, it's quite amusing."
The German also shrugged off suggestions that the early weekend controversy over concessions made in the wake of the ban on blown diffusers had had any effect on the result.
"I think it's hard to measure for us, firstly from a data point of view and also from a feeling point of view, because this is a different track compared to the tracks we've been to previously," he noted, "To really find out, you have to test one thing against another, but I think, as Fernando said, it didn't make a massive difference in terms of driving or driving style. I didn't have to change anything, so I don't think the influence was huge."