Sebastian Vettel is remaining quiet on the reasons for his sudden stop after the chequered flag in Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix, but admits that he is glad the race wasn't any longer.
While speculation suggests that world champion was marginal on fuel as he held off Kimi Raikkonen to claim his first win of the 2012 F1 season, Vettel has revealed that he did not expect his tyres to hold up over another lap or two.
Although he had dropped Raikkonen following their third and final pit-stops, Vettel explained that he had felt a dramatic drop-off in terms of tyre performance, and was glad to see the chequered flag lest the Finn mount a late challenge.
“Over the last two or so laps, the times dropped significantly so it was good that there wasn't a 58th or 59th lap!” he told the official F1 website, “If you get it wrong with the brakes in such a situation - and this track is very demanding on the brakes and, consequently, for the front tyres - it could mean you let the win slip out of your hands. But none of these things happened! Thank god!”
Vettel indicated that he had been helped by being able to make his second set of tyres last longer than scheduled, as it helped reduce the pressure from behind.
“It was important to stay out on the used tyres in the second stint,” he confirmed, “Originally, we had planned to pit one lap earlier but, when I was able to get a bit away from him, we decided that I should stay out for one more lap.
“Qualifying didn't go so perfectly in the sense of tyre usage compared to the guys behind me. Kimi and Romain [Grosjean] both had new tyres in the race, so we knew that every lap that we could stay out longer would be crucial for the result. It was very important that I was able to get away right from the start. To make a gap to the guys behind me allowed me to profit from that gap for the whole race.
“It was somewhat obvious that, in the middle phase, Kimi was faster and that I was able to control him was extremely important. Towards the end of the race, he was running into the same degradation problems as me so, by pushing hard, I was even able get away a bit.”
Having come under pressure from Raikkonen during their penultimate stint – the Finn even getting close enough to have a look at passing his rival into turn one – the onus was shifted to the pair's respective pit crews as they stopped together for the final time.