21 September 2014
F1 Singapore Grand Prix: Vettel happy with ‘borderline’ best result
Sebastian Vettel admits it was a close call on tyres, but he was delighted to be able to bring his Red Bull home in second place at the Singapore Grand Prix.
Sebastian Vettel was happy to take his best result of a difficult 2014 F1 season, but admitted that it was touch-and-go whether he could hold on to second place at the end of the Singapore Grand Prix.
The German took full advantage of Nico Rosberg's absence to claim second spot from Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo early on lap one, but lost it to Fernando Alonso during the second round of pit-stops, as the Ferrari driver pulled off the undercut. Knowing that there was no point trying to match the Spaniard for pace, Red Bull waited a while before pitting Vettel for the soft compound Pirelli in the hope of having the supersoft available for a charge in the final phase of the race.
“The start was good for me, although it was quite weird to start with no car ahead but not be on the first row,” he reflected, “It helped, obviously, as I had no car in front and I could get side-by-side [with Ricciardo] and then move into second place.
“After that, I think we had a good race although it was not ideal with the timing of the safety car as, before that, we lost a position to Fernando because we stopped late and decided to go onto the prime [tyre] in the hope that no safety cars would come out...
“It was pretty pointless to do the same as him, so we tried to do the opposite and get it back at the last stint of the race. In hindsight, perhaps, we should have stopped earlier as, at the end, the tyres were at the end of their life. The plan was high risk because of the safety car and, in the end, we got lucky because the tyres held up, but at that stage it didn't look like it.”
Unfortunately, a safety car interruption scuppered Red Bull's plans, leaving Vettel to run to the flag on the softs. The German had a chance of beating long-time leader Lewis Hamilton if he could make the tyres last, but could not keep up with the Mercedes and, despite leading a lap for the first time all season, succumbed to the charging Briton within a lap of him taking on fresh rubber.
“After the restart, we knew it was difficult with 27 seconds to make up on older tyres than everyone behind,” he said, “It was probably impossible and, to get the best result, we had to get to the end [without changing again]. I wasn't very confident that we could do it simply because of the wear we had had on the set before.
“Obviously, we had one lap in the lead, but I wasn't sure what Lewis was doing after that…. I gave him all the space to pass me on the inside of the next corner, but it seems like he couldn't wait to retake the lead! It was quite tight but I saw him - and there was no point fighting as I didn't have the tyres to match him.”
Those tyres also gave Vettel concerns into the final few laps of what became a timed race, with both Ricciardo – despite technical concerns of his own – and Alonso closing in on the #1 Red Bull.
“We tried to stay out with the last set of tyres and make them work, which was very much borderlines as there was a lot of pressure from Daniel, and also from Fernando behind,” the four-time world champion conceded, “I'm very happy to make it to P2.
“That was the best we could do, as there was not much tread left [on the tyres] but it was still a very good result for the team.”
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