Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel has played down the notion he is being forced to be more aggressive at the start of races to overcome the performance deficit to Mercedes and Red Bull following his turn one incident in the Malaysian Grand Prix
Vettel was handed a three-place grid penalty for this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix as punishment for tipping Nico Rosberg into a spin at the start of the Sepang race, contact that would also put the Ferrari driver out of the race.
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Though Vettel erred on the suggestion that Max Verstappen was too aggressive in forcing him to a tight inside line – which caused him to clip Rosberg ahead when the Mercedes turned in -, he admits there was some 'risk' involved in his attempt, one that concedes didn't pay off this time.
“I went to the inside and obviously was able to go side-by-side with Max. As it turned out, I was probably a little bit too late in comparison to the first two cars but I make the corner, it's not a problem, I'm not shooting straight like crazy so of course it is a risk and in that case it didn't get rewarded. For sure it was quite bad for Nico because he had nothing to do with it.
“I phoned him up straight after and explained to him my point of view but sometimes these things happen. I'm a bit surprised you say you've never seen me like this, I think I've attacked quite a lot of cars in all the starts that I did in my life into Turn 1, and most of the time got away with it, sometimes I didn't and I guess last time was one of the occasions where it just didn't work.”
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Still, Vettel denies it is the pressure mounting from Red Bull in the constructors' standings that is forcing him to be more forceful at the start.
“I don't think there is so much to analyse or so much to go through and other than that you try to squeeze everything you can from the car at any time. Sometimes you find yourself overdriving, I mean it's not particular this year, last year or the year before, or whatever.
“I think you obviously try to achieve the best, sometimes you push too hard. It's normal, it's human, and sometimes you don't push enough, so it's about finding the sweet spot in the middle.”
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