Sebastian Vettel says he managed to fend off Max Verstappen for third place in Formula 1’s Chinese Grand Prix by predicting where his overtaking attempt would come.

After triggering the first round of pit stops by attempting an undercut strategy, Verstappen ended up just behind Vettel on track when the Ferrari driver emerged from the pitlane.

Verstappen got within DRS range of the German and attempted a late lunge at the Turn 14 hairpin, but he ran too deep under braking, allowing Vettel to squeeze back ahead on the run to the final corner before consolidating the final spot on the Shanghai podium.

The pair had collided at the same corner a year earlier and Vettel said he was able to pre-empt the move.

“I saw him coming and the speed delta at the end of the straight is quite big now, so knowing Max as well, I knew that he will try,” Vettel explained.

“I was sort of predicting that he would try and go down the inside and try to cut back and it worked.

“I had a bit of a moment in which I had to open the car a bit, but it was good because I just kept nearly a car length ahead and then at the end going into the last corner for him I guess wasn’t sexy so that was good fun, but as I said, we would have loved to be a bit faster.”

Vettel’s rostrum marked his first appearance inside the top three so far in 2019, though he was disappointed by the performance deficit to rivals Mercedes, with the reigning world champions taking a third straight one-two finish.

“I’m happy to be on the podium, but its tough, because we tried to stick with them, but we just couldn’t,” he conceded.

“They were too quick, right from the start. Obviously I had a bit of a race with Max, which was good fun, but the objective was to chase them down, but as I said, they were just too quick for us today. So well done to Lewis and Valtteri.”

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