Vettel: Mercedes did what they had to do
28 May 2013
Sebastian Vettel said that he was happy to have finished on the podium once again in Monaco, particularly as Mercedes drove a tactical race to ensure that it had a chance of converting pole position into victory.
Unlike any of the previous three rounds, where the Silver Arrows qualified in top spot but was unable to defend position as its tyres went away, Monaco provided the ideal opportunity to keep the opposition at bay, with Nico Rosberg eventually claiming his second career win, 30 years after his father – and 1982 world champion – also won in the Principality.
Team-mate Lewis Hamilton had run second to the German through the early stages, but confessed to being a little tardy on the run in to his one and only pit-stop, conducted under the safety car for Felipe Massa's accident at Ste Devote, and lost two positions as Red Bull pounced. Just as the circuit's narrow confines had played into Mercedes' hands early on, they now mitigated against Hamilton joining Rosberg on the podium, and the Briton had to settle for fourth overall.
Vettel, meanwhile, insisted that he was delighted with the result, despite being unable to reprise his 2011 success.
“We know that it's very difficult to overtake here, [and] congratulations to Nico, he did a very good job, a very controlled race,” the reigning world champion said, “I think he had the pace and the tyres to respond whenever we tried to get a little bit closer.”
The German made a blinding getaway to run alongside Hamilton approaching Ste Devote but, having had to cede to the Briton, was left to regret his position.
“[At] the start of the race, I think I could have gone past both Mercedes but didn't have the room, so had to lift,” he confirmed, “Then [Red Bull team-mate] Mark [Webber] came and it was tight into the first corner.
“After that, I was a bit surprised by the slow pace in the opening laps. Usually, you expect two Silver Arrows in front of you, [but] there were two buses today, going for a cruise – at least in the first couple of laps. Obviously, the strategy was clear and they did a very good job.”
Asked what exactly he meant by the comment, Vettel attempted to explain his rivals' tactics.
“I think we could see that the field didn't spread out so, as I said, they did what worked best for them. I think it was very marginal on one stop - and I think the red flag helped all of us to put a fresh set of tyres on to save that ten, eleven laps, total race distance – but it was clear what they were doing a couple of laps after the start.
“They were going quite slow and trying to obviously make the one stop happen. Fair play, they were in the lead and, around here, it's very tricky to pass. Every time I tried to get a little bit closer with Lewis, they reacted. They had the pace, so they could afford to go slow and then, if they had to, they had the pace to pick it up again. In that regard, it wasn't the most exciting race because you just wait for the chequered flag. It's still a lot of laps, and looking after the tyres wasn't straightforward for us today so, overall, I'm happy with the result we got.”
Vettel also admitted that he had been lucky with the timing of his pit-stop, coming as it did before the safety car was called to cover Massa's crash.
“Obviously, it was a very, very good call from the team,” he insisted, “Initially, we wanted to pit a lap earlier, but then we aborted that. Obviously, there was a yellow and, in the end, I think we were just a little bit lucky.
“We decided to pit and, when I changed tyres and went back out, at the same moment the safety car came, [it] probably helped us a little bit. I don't know if Lewis had a problem with the stop, or if it was just down to the fact that the safety car came at the wrong time for him, but, yeah, it was nice. At some stage, I was hoping that it might be enough to get Nico as well, but he obviously was in the lead by quite a bit before we came in.”