Sebastian Vettel insists he is “not worried at all” about losing the Formula 1 2018 world championship lead to rival Lewis Hamilton at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Vettel commanded proceedings as he looked set to record his third victory of the season in Baku, until he lost the lead to Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas under the final Safety Car period before ultimately dropping to fourth. 

A dramatic puncture ended Bottas’ race with just three laps to go as teammate Hamilton profited to claim his first win of 2018, taking a four-point lead in the drivers’ championship standings in the process. 

But Vettel is encouraged by Ferrari’s start to the new campaign after taking three straight poles and believes his team’s early-season form proves the Scuderia can now challenge Mercedes in all conditions. 

“The most important thing is that we have a good car,” Vettel said. “We have a car that we can work with qualifying. If we can put it in the front we can fight for a win. We have good pace in the race.

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“I’m not worried at all because I think it’s quite different to last year where in qualifying for most of the time for most of the year we weren’t competitive enough. And also then later in the season in the race we weren’t competitive enough to make things happen.

“But if you are quick enough you can make things happen. Now the way the race turned out is for some people good, for some people bad – speak to Valtteri I’m pretty sure he’s not sure because it was his win! – but that’s how it goes. As I said I’m not worried because the car is there and we need to make sure it stays there.”

The German made a costly error and ran wide at Turn 1 as he attempted to reclaim the lead of the race from Bottas at the Safety Car restart but defended his ambitious move. 

“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.”



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