D as we seldom had this season. Ferrari did everything right tactically. For 30 laps Sebastian Vettel did not look like someone who could thwart Nico Rosberg's World Cup dreams and become a teammate for Lewis Hamilton. The Ferrari driver was stuck in 5th place for a long time. “A bit frustrating. When nothing went forward, I concentrated on taking care of my tires. ”
Vettel had to be patient until the 24th lap. Then Red Bull called Daniel Ricciardo into the pits for the second tire change. And Ferrari followed suit with Kimi Raikkonen. Max Verstappen did his laps behind Vettel in a one-stop race. But the Dutchman no longer had to pit. “Max went in one extreme direction, we in the other. It was obvious to stay outside as long as possible and then attack with super soft tires in the end. '
Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko said grimly:' Verstappen has a 21-lap stint on Supersoft tires Ferrari got the idea to try the softer tires as well. And they knew how long you can drive with the supersoft tires “Vettel only had to hold out for 18 laps on the supersoft tires. But with a much lighter car than the Red Bull driver.
Foundation stone for 3rd place in laps 30 to 37
Vettel's contribution to implementing the strategy was in laps 30 to 37 Despite the worn out soft tires, the ex-world champion drove almost as fast as his opponents on fresh sets. “I haven't lost too much in the group that was already in the pits. That was the key to later third place. ”
Vettel initially fell back to 6th place. 17.7 seconds behind the leaders. Then the Ferrari flew. Sometimes 2 seconds per lap faster than the rest of the field. His lap times triggered an alarm at the Mercedes command post. Because Vettel was a stranger to the bill with the fresh and softer tires as long as Hamilton was slowing down.
Vettel was allowed to pass team-mate Raikkonen without resistance. First he sniffed Ricciardo, then Verstappen. “Daniel was relatively easy, Max was more difficult. My car was already starting to slip and the tires were slowly degrading. What helped me with Max: He had no DRS. “On lap 52, the first four drivers were welded together within 2.9 seconds.
Vettel takes the championship fight into consideration
Here underwent Hamiltona mistake in his tactical games. He had Rosberg unlocked so strongly during his crawl that the German got into the DRS window. That made it more difficult for Vettel to overtake the second Mercedes. “Nico was a bit too fast for me on the straight. I chose Turn 11 as the best overtaking point, but Nico defended the inside lane well. ”
Vettel let it go with two attacks. One right, the other half-hearted. But both with a sense of proportion. Vettel did not want to play the regicide. “My problem wasn't just that Nico benefited from the DRS and my front tires were getting hotter and hotter. He was so close behind Lewis that I couldn't take all risks. If I pull through regardless of losses, I also clear Lewis with me. I didn't want to risk a stupid maneuver. ”
Vettel's consideration saved Rosberg. The Mercedes driver could have let the Ferrari by. Third would have been enough. Race engineer Tony Ross offered it to him, but Rosberg preferred to fight. You can say with the courage of desperation.
Vettel could empathize: “In the end I didn't want to be in Nico's shoes. Everyone knew what Lewis was up to. He was traveling as slowly as a bus and he wanted to drive Nico into us. I wanted to win the race for Ferrari, but I also knew that Lewis and Nico were racing for the world championship. ”