Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel explains the idea for him to try and overtake Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen in the Spoon corner during Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix.
Having started from eighth in the race at Suzuka on Sunday, Vettel was already up to fifth in the opening sequence to slot himself behind the battling Verstappen and Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen.
He had the front seat to watch the incident unfold between Verstappen and Raikkonen – of which he took an advantage to pass his teammate in the final corner. However, the fight with Verstappen ended up in a disaster for the German.
The Dutchman already had a five-second time penalty for the clash with Raikkonen but the idea to stay with the Mercedes duo ahead, it made Vettel to quickly pass Verstappen who is a hard nut to crack in wheel-to-wheel fight.
The German eventually decided to make the move in the left-hander Spoon corner when he spotted Verstappen’s clipping his battery on the straight whereas Vettel had already saved the extra boost to pounce on him later in the lap.
He actually went wheel-to-wheel in the corner and was nearly ahead when Verstappen turned in to close the door in his defence which resulted in a clash. The stewards deemed it as a racing incident as did the drivers.
Both were fine with no penalty for either but then more or less blamed each other for less co-operation. “It is racing, obviously it is tough for me,” said Vettel to the media. “It was clear, his battery was clipping, I saved mine.
“So, I was boosting until the braking of Turn 13 into Spoon. I had the tow and I knew that I had more and more pace overshoot compared to him at the end of the straight. He defended, I went on the inside.
“Then I think he should have given me more room because like that I have no place to go, obviously I am the idiot because I spun and I am last, he carries on. I don’t think it was fair but then life is not always fair.
“It has been like this, after that I tried to come back and do our race but obviously it was lost from there. It is trademark for him that whenever he sees someone close, he tries everything to stay there even though it is sometimes too late.
“I think you can assess different situation in different corner like with Kimi, he is off the track, where does he want to go, if unlucky then he takes him straight out. In my case, obviously I was side-by-side.
“But then I can’t go anywhere, can’t turn even further on the inside because I am already two wheels on the kerb and then he just needs to give way and fight back the corner after. I am sure I wouldn’t have got a great exit out of Spoon.”
Vettel was also clear on Raikkonen’s case where he thought it was not ‘gentleman’ of Verstappen to return on the racing line just like that as it could lead into a bigger crash. The German thinks Verstappen is not helping himself with the kind of racing he does.
On the other hand, the Dutchman was naturally not too happy with penalty for then Raikkonen incident and space given to Vettel in the corner. Verstappen thought Vettel’s move was the same as what he did in China earlier in the season.
“I braked a little bit too late into the chicane, so I did everything I could to get back onto the track and I think I did it in a safe way, because I was not crazy-fast onto the track, but Kimi chose the wrong line in the chicane,” he said.
“He could have also just waited for me to come back on the track. We touched a little bit, but I think it’s really ridiculous those five seconds. Next time I’ll do what Valtteri did, like cut the chicane.
“I was just trying my very best to get back onto the track and not easily….like release the brake and cut the track but next time I’ll just cut the track. The touch with Sebastian – in that corner you can’t overtake.
“I even gave him space, but he understeered into my car. I think it’s a similar scenario to what I had in China with him. I think we could have been a bit more careful. [It shows] even the most experienced drivers’ can make those mistakes.”
The stewards though thought otherwise for Verstappen’s claims of the move being similar to China. They said the move at Shanghai was an opportunistic at best for Verstappen whereas Suzuka’s overtake by Vettel was a genuine attempt looking at the data.