Sebastian Vettel says his experience of being in Formula 1 over the last 10 years has taught him not to listen to criticism. 

The Ferrari driver headed to Baku as the F1 championship leader having won two of the opening three rounds and looked set to take a comfortable victory after dominating the opening stint of Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix. 

But a collision between Red Bull teammates Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen prompted a Safety Car which turned an already chaotic race on its head, enabling Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas to leapfrog Vettel as the pair dived into the pits under the Safety Car to take advantage of a free stop and take on fresh rubber. 

Vettel tried a late lunge on Bottas into Turn 1 at the restart but locked up and ran wide, dropping down the order as he went on to finish fourth. That opened the door for early title rival Lewis Hamilton to claim a shock win when Bottas suffered a dramatic race-ending puncture with three laps to go, a result which handed the Briton the championship lead for the first time in 2018. 

The German defended his failed attempt at trying to re-claim the lead from Bottas, insisting he had to try after a gap presented itself. 

“I think without the lock up and braking at the same point without the lock up as it was quite bumpy there I think I would have made the corner and it turns out to be a good move,” Vettel said. 

“It is easy to say not it was not the right move and it didn’t work. I had to try, I tried and it didn’t work. I tried because I saw the gap. In the end I am the captain on board and it just didn’t work.”

Vettel said his views on the overall picture in F1 have changed during his 10-year spell in the sport, adding he feels in a better place this season than ever before with regards to sustaining a consistent level of performance. 

“I think you grow up, you change your view on some things, you get hopefully a bit wiser, so your horizon changes and also your motivation is different,” Vettel explained. “Maybe you are looking at things a bit differently. 

“I think the most important [thing] is that you know who you are and you’re true to yourself, then I think you can afford to listen less to what’s going on around and not be distracted and simply enjoy your racing. 

“If you want to fight at the front, you cannot afford to do many mistakes, and for whoever is at the top and was at the top in the past for many years usually has a high level and there’s a lot of effort going into it, not just putting everything together at the track but also away from the track.”

 

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