Sebastian Vettel says he never expected Ferrari to order teammate Kimi Raikkonen to swap places with him in the closing stages of Formula 1’s Austrian Grand Prix. 

A third place finish at the Red Bull Ring saw Vettel reclaim the lead of the drivers’ world championship from Lewis Hamilton by a single point at after his closest title rival retired from the race with a loss of fuel pressure.

With the top three running within four seconds of one another in the final few laps of Sunday’s race, there were suggestions Ferrari could impose team orders to move Raikkonen aside and allow Vettel into second place to further strengthen his title cause.

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Spielberg was the scene of a controversial staged finish by the Scuderia in 2002, as Ferrari instructed then-race leader Rubens Barrichello to allow teammate Michael Schumacher to overtake him at the final corner of the last lap so the German could collect maximum points. 

When asked if he was expecting Ferrari to employ a similar strategy in in the closing stages, Vettel replied: ”No, why?" 

"Max won the race because he deserved it and he didn't make any mistakes,” he added. “So that's a strong performance from him. And Kimi did everything he could.

"I was trying to hunt both of them down. Kimi was pushing as hard as he could and l was pushing as hard as l could. Both of us were closing but it wasn't enough.”

Vettel insisted he was pleased with his recovery drive, having been demoted to sixth on the grid after he picked up a three-place grid penalty for impeding Carlos Sainz’s Renault in qualifying. 

“Obviously I was further back on lap one, I lost with the pit stop, so I arguably had to recover more than others but I’m fine with that. We had great speed, the difference was made with the tyres today, which worked well, the strategy worked well. 

“I’m happy with the podium, I think it was a great race, but equally I think there was more up for grabs. So a bit mixed.”

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