Sebastian Vettel doubts he would have been able to pass Formula 1 title rival Lewis Hamilton for the lead in Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix even if a slow pit stop had not left him stuck behind Valtteri Bottas early in his second stint.

Vettel started fourth in Hungary on an alternate strategy, opting for a long stint on the Soft tyres before switching to Ultrasofts, with the front-running Mercedes drivers moving from Ultrasofts to Softs during the race.

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Vettel looked to be in the frame for a fight with pole-sitter Hamilton for victory towards the end of his first stint, only for a loss of time in the final few laps before pitting plus a slow stop from the Ferrari crew to cause him to emerge from the pits behind Hamilton's teammate, Bottas.

Despite having a tyre pace advantage and only being nine seconds back from Hamilton after pitting, Vettel could not find a way past Bottas until the final five laps, with the pair making contact at Turn 2. Bottas was left with front wing damage, while Vettel continued to finish the race second.

Asked if the slow stop and traffic had determined his race, Vettel said it did not "in terms of position", believing second was the most he could have achieved on Sunday.

"I think more than second wasn't really there. I think Lewis had a lot in hand in the final stint, so we could have probably caught him down a bit, but not passed him," Vettel said.

"It's not the track to pass. You saw at the end I was a lot faster than Valtteri. Initially I couldn't make it, so I sat back and waited for the last 10 laps, and that's when we did it.

"I think obviously if we come out ahead, then the last stint is a lot more relaxed. That way I had to find a way past on a track that is nearly impossible to overtake."

Vettel heads into the summer break trailing Hamilton by 24 points in the drivers' championship, having enjoyed an eight-point lead just eight days ago.

Reflecting on his first half of the season, Vettel said he felt it had been "pretty good", highlighting the mistake that saw him crash out while leading the German Grand Prix last Sunday as the main low point.

"I think we started well with a car that wasn't yet ready. I think we had sometimes the pendulum swinging our way, sometimes not," Vettel said.

"From my point of view I think it's been fairly consistent. The one error [in Germany] that was very costly that was quite small, because I wasn't even trying but went off was last week. That's part of the game. I can't rewind the clock. It has happened.

"It obviously hurt us, but I'm quite confident that if we have the car to fight with, we can put them under pressure and make things happen in the second half."

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