Sebastian Vettel admits he had “no intention to resist” Max Verstappen’s attack on fresher tyres but has played down his clash with the Red Bull driver during the Chinese Grand Prix.

After a midrace safety car for the Toro Rosso pair colliding which caused debris to be spilt on to the Shanghai International Circuit, Red Bull pulled off the perfect double pit stop to give Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo fresh tyres while both Ferrari and Mercedes opted to keep their drivers out on track to hold on to track position.

It quickly became clear Red Bull’s strategy call was the perfect one as both drivers charged through the field which saw Ricciardo take a dramatic victory. Verstappen, who was ahead of Ricciardo after the stops, lost out in a near-miss while trying to overtake Hamilton but worse followed when he collided with Vettel at the penultimate corner on lap 43.

Verstappen locked up under braking while diving up the inside of the Ferrari driver and clipped the pair into a spin which saw the Dutch driver handed a 10-second time penalty for causing a collision.

Vettel, who has endured previous clashes with Verstappen in recent seasons, says he wasn’t aiming to block the Red Bull driver realising his slower pace on old tyres and after a post-race chat about the incident the German driver appeared to play down the clash.

“I didn’t see him until very late so I left him a little bit of room,” Vettel said. “To be honest I was expecting him to come earlier as I had no intention to resist as it was clear that he and Daniel were so much faster on the fresher tyres. I didn’t want to compromise my race to the guys behind.

“He made a mistake, he locked up, it happens. We had tail wins all race down the back straight. I guess he misjudged and it compromised both of our races.

“Inside the car you must not forget that the judgements are very difficult to make.

“But you have to bear these things in mind and make sure you don’t crash. He could have easily taken his front wing off or had a puncture so in that case we were both a bit lucky.”

Verstappen was penalised for the clash the Red Bull driver finished an aggregate fifth place after his 10-second time penalty dropped him behind Lewis Hamilton, while Vettel limped home in eighth place after wrecking his tyres towards the finish.


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