Vettel saves Ferrari’s day with ‘nothing to lose’ strategy
Sebastian Vettel earned himself a P7 finish and a well-deserved ‘Driver of the Day’ award in the Spanish Grand Prix thanks to his successful completion of an unexpected but also conflicting strategy call by Ferrari.
Starting just outside the top-ten, Vettel launched his race on the medium while the bulk of the field was on softs, a choice that kept the German in the thick of the midfield during his opening stint.
A switch to the soft compound on lap 29 eventually elevated the German into the top-ten where the Ferrari pit-wall urged Vettel to push as those in front began their second tyre rotations.
But Vettel remained on the red-rimmed compound for the duration of the race, running as high as fifth until his was caught by Lance Stroll and Carlos Sainz who were on fresher rubber, and finishing seventh after extracting 36 laps from his soft tyres!
“It’s quite simple, we didn’t have anything to lose,” Vettel said after Sunday’s race in Barcelona, justifying the call to switch to a one-stop strategy.
“We were P11, and I think we were trying to offset until the end of the race, so obviously we were catching the cars in front.
“They pitted for their second stop, but I was not in a rush to catch them and managing the tyres.”
Vettel admitted to being irked by the Scuderia’s indecisive attitude, the Italian outfit initially asking him to push only to tell him a few laps later to manage his tyres to make the one-stop game plan work.
“Then I was told to push, which I did, and I was told to make it to the end, or asked if I could make it to the end.
“I said: ‘Well, you could have asked that three laps before because I asked a couple of times, what’s the target, how long do we want to go, so I could look after my tyres’.
“I said we’d try to make it. The last five laps were really, really difficult. Obviously it helped that we got lapped to be honest – not always the case, but today it was.
“We obviously took that risk because we had nothing to lose, and it did pay off, but it wasn’t the plan before the race to do close to 40 laps on the softer tyre.”
Struggling Vettel still at odds with ‘up and down’ SF1000
Vettel was Ferrari’s single representative at the finish after Charles Leclerc’s demise on lap 38 due to an electrical issue.
The German driver’s points, his fourth top-ten finish this season, did not unfortunately reflect a step forward in the erratic behaviour of his SF1000.
“[It was] mixed, to be honest, still up and down,” Vettel said.
“Some sessions feel better than others. The first stint was quite poor, the second stint, I felt much more in control of the car. Still I think [there is] some work to do on my side.”
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