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Montreal not as easy as it looked, insists Vettel
11 June 2013
From the outside it looked as though Sebastian Vettel had the Canadian GP in his pocket within seconds of the lights going out. But the reigning world champion insisted that was far from the reality of the afternoon from where he was sitting in the cockpit of the car.
By the end of lap 2, Sebastian Vettel had two seconds in hand over his nearest rival on track, Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton. You'd have thought he could back off and take it easy from there, but instead he kept pushing and at one point early in the race he gave one of the outside walls a close encounter with his right hand tyres that send a shiver of concern through his team on pit lane.
"Obviously I was pushing very hard at the beginning to get away and open a gap," he explained. "It's Canada, you obviously go close to the walls here or there, sometimes a little bit closer than I wanted but fortunately I didn't brush the walls.
"I'm really just trying to just open as much of a gap as I can," he said. I felt I had more pace in the beginning of the race, it's difficult to foresee what's happening later on, when you swap tyres, also in terms of range – how far we were going to get on each set of tyres.
"We weren't sure if it was a one-stop or a two-stop," Vettel added. "So all these things you don't know so it's good to have a little bit of time on your hands, which was the reason why I pushed very hard in the beginning."
Later in the race there was another scare when he straight-lined turn 1, but Vettel said that was a calculated move compared with the alternative actions he could have taken.
"I was a little bit too late into the first corner, lost the rear on the way in," he explained. "I could have stayed on the track but I wasn't sure. It was quite tight, obviously you have the right hander following immediately and I didn't want to risk a spin so I decided to cut and make sure.
"I think I could have saved or caught the car, but I didn't want to risk a spin," he said. "So I decided, should I stay or should I go - then I decided to cut the corner, slowed down.
"I lost four or five seconds in that corner compared to normal, so I think it was fine," he said. "It just seemed to be the safer option to avoid the spin and carry on that way. I was just a little bit too fast. That's what happens. Fortunately there was no wall so I was lucky.
"Obviously there was traffic again with a backmarker, so I let him by to really make sure I rejoined the track in a safe way, which cost a lot of time. But yeah, I was just a bit too late in the first corner heating the brakes."
Despite such scares along the way, Vettel insisted that he had been "enjoying every kilometre of the race" on Sunday.
"This race was nothing to complain about: the car felt great, the pit stops worked smoothly and it is a real pleasure to see that you have more speed than all the others," he said. "The win and the trophy, that was deserved after such a perfect performance."
It's Vettel and Red Bull Racing's first win in Canada. He'd come close to winning in 2011 only to be thwarted by a late charge from Jenson Button, leading many to wonder if Vettel would ever win in Montreal or whether this was some sort of 'bogey circuit' forever destined to be out of his reach.
"I wouldn't call it a hex," said Vettel when asked whether he'd thought the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was jinxed for him and team. "We had great races here in the past - it just wasn't enough for the win. Today it was. I am very happy because it's a great race.
"I haven't been desperate to win here and tick it off the list," he insisted. "If I am happy then it's because we've delivered a great race in front of a fantastic audience - and even the sun came out today, something that wasn't to be expected after the last few days!"
Weather may well be a factor in the next Grand Prix which is in Britain at Silverstone, known for being as inclement as the weather can get even on a nominally midsummer day.
"I am very much looking forward to it," said Vettel. "It is something of a home Grand Prix, as Milton Keynes is just a stone's throw away and the guys in the factory have the chance to see their 'product' live."
But he wasn't predicting a repeat of the dominant form he'd displayed in Canada: "Silverstone is a totally different proposition: the track layout is completely different, the tarmac is different and the tyres that we will use are different, so nothing to compare with here."
Which may at least give his rivals some grounds for hoping that the battle for the 2013 world championship is far from over just yet.