Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel has defended his move in F1 Chinese GP which Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen says will ‘swing around’ in future races.
As the cars prepared for their final runs in Chinese GP qualifying, it was chaos on track as all the teams left it late to send their drivers out on track which meant majority were racing against time to pass through the finish line to start on the flying lap.
Mercedes seemed the only one in place to get past at ease, while the Ferrari and Renault drivers had to rush in. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel then took the matter into his hands to get ahead of the pack as he passed the Renault drivers and got close to Verstappen.
The German went around the outside in the hairpin where they made contact in 2018 and passed the Dutchman, which left Verstappen fuming on the radio as he allowed the Renault drivers to pass through as well and eventually block teammate Pierre Gasly.
Post-session, the Red Bull driver continued on from where he left with him mentioning that he knows what to do the next time. “I was just trying to follow the Ferrari in front of me and trying to be nice,” he said to the media in China.
“I could have also overtaken him but it is not what you do in qualifying. This time it caught me out, so I am [naturally] not happy about that but it will swing around then, it will come back to others as well.
“It is annoying because we could have fought for third and now we just have to do some more overtaking [in the race].” In response to Verstappen’s claims, Vettel was on defence on the ‘unwritten’ rule of not passing in the final sector.
“I guess everyone timed it around the same, so we all left for the same spot,” he said. “And if you’re at the end of the train, which I was, then it was quite difficult. And when the team told me we only have ten seconds margin to cross the line in time to make another attempt.
“I had to think of something. I do not know if others were not told. If everyone would have sped up the way I did, then yeah, we would have all made it. But I obviously prioritised to make the lap. It felt like others were not aware.”
Vettel found support in Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, who also couldn’t set any lap time along with his teammate Romain Grosjean, as they were at the back of the pack. The Frenchman said the team could have beaten the Renaults and also Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly.
“It’s a bit of a shame,” he said. “At Turn 14, they told me we have got a 20-second margin. Then the next thing I heard was five seconds, within two seconds. I think we could have beaten the Renaults. If you look at my lap time from Q2, I did just one lap time.
“Obviously you don’t put everything you have on the table when you have missed your first attempt. I kept a bit in the packet. There was a bit of margin, and probably a 1:32.9s, so I could have got Gasly.”
The two Renault drivers had a better run though with Daniel Ricciardo finishing seventh and Nico Hulkenberg eighth behind Gasly, who was caught out by Verstappen’s slow drive in the final corner – the Frenchman was happy still be make it into Q3 for the first time.
Coming back on Verstappen, the Red Bull driver felt he had a solid chance to get third at least which team boss Christian Horner concurred. “I did not expect the performance because it was there, we were fighting for third,” said Verstappen.
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