Sebastian Vettel says Lewis Hamilton deserved to win the Italian Grand Prix, despite the post-race furore over tyre pressures.
Hamilton eventually took the victory by 25 seconds and while the result wasn't confirmed until sometime after the chequered flag had fell - following an investigation by the stewards
- Vettel was magnanimous in defeat, and freely admitted that the Briton was in a class of his own.
“It's difficult to judge now [what affect the lower pressures might have had] because I don't know what was going on,” Vettel said before
Mercedes was cleared. “I think it's not fair to hand that question to Lewis [either] because he doesn't know what's going on, so that's that.
"In principle, the tyres last a bit longer, but I don't think... in a lot of respect and fairness he did a very good job and you have to accept that.”
“After the first couple of laps, I think at some points we were similar in lap time, he was only a tenth quicker for one or two laps, I thought that maybe now we get a chance to close the gap but then he just seemed to find an extra switch and he was pulling away,” Vettel added.
“I think myself, Felipe [Massa – who finished third] and the cars behind, we seemed to struggle with tyres, so we're losing pace whereas Lewis just kept doing what he was doing in the first couple of laps.
“So it was quite incredible to see and no chance to stay close to him.”
Asked why his tyres didn't hold up as well as Hamilton's, Vettel replied: “I was pushing as hard as possible and Lewis, I think, to some extent, did the same and yeah, I think you could see on my lap times... I got updated by radio that the lap times kept dropping so I guess we were struggling more with the tyres than Lewis was because he was able to do the same lap time on lap 22 as he did on lap four which is quite impressive. Obviously we had run down some fuel but tyres are 20 laps older. I think he said he felt well with the balance of the car which makes a huge difference so that's that.
“They were quick on race pace, quicker than us but potentially they had a bit better tyre wear or tyre degradation, let's put it this way, so I think that made the difference.
“On the first three laps I had a bit of hope and then, to be honest with you, I saw them [the tyres] going away, so yeah, that was that.”