Sebastian Vettel discuss the fights he had in F1 Azerbaijan GP with Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly, as he adds on getting comfortable with the car and podium return.
After his performance in Monaco, Aston Martin’s Vettel was once again on fire in F1 Azerbaijan GP, especially in the grand prix. It was once again a smart play of strategy and pace, which helped the German gain track positions in the race.
After his teammate Lance Stroll crashed out, Vettel not only cleared AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly but also Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in two solid moves to get himself in fourth position. A subsequent crash for Max Verstappen and off for Lewis Hamilton, got him to second.
Once in second, it was for Vettel to just bring it home, to register his first F1 podium with Aston Martin. Post-race, the German reflected on a Top 2 finish and returning to some form after last year’s disaster. He added on the fights against Gasly and Leclerc too.
“I didn’t have many expectations, to be honest, at the start,” said Vettel. “I mean, I knew that the whole weekend I felt good, so I knew we can score some points but I certainly didn’t expect second and the race was really strong. We had a very good first stint. I saved the tyres in the beginning and stayed out longer than most of the people in front of me, which I think helped us later on because, at the restart I had, when the SC came, I was obviously in the mix in P6 and had tyres that were ten laps fresher than everyone else’s.
“So, probably easier to warm them up and it helped me at the restart to jump Charles and also Pierre. It was quite hairy into Turn Three and Charles was braver than I expected because I initially braked later than him but he opened the brakes and I thought, OK, for sure, he’s going to hit the wall, so I prepared to get to the inside – but he made it. I don’t know how, but he did. After that, I still had a good feeling on the lap after the restart to get him at the end of the lap and jump him there, so after that we were in fourth and could really go with the pace from the group in the front.
“Then, with the red flag, obviously it’s a shame for Max to lose the lead like that. I think Lance had the same issue, the tyre just failing but I think for us, obviously, we then found ourselves in a good spot, in the podium ranks. I was again aggressive on the start and had a good start but nowhere to go and then I obviously saw that Lewis misjudged Turn One. Tried to stay a bit closer with Sergio maybe to do something after the first lap but I was too far away and obviously very happy with P2 and the team.
“I think it’s great for us. We had a very rough start to the season. We expected quite a bit more after such a strong year the team had last year. The podium is been a while, so I think it’s always nice if you join a new team get together good results. I sat in the press conference on Thursday and said that I’m in it to win and I enjoyed the race because I was getting closer and closer to spots that I enjoy more and more,” summed up Vettel.
With the tyre issue for Stroll, when asked if he was worried, Vettel initially didn’t understand the reason for the crash. He thought he clipped the wall, but eventually was told about the tyre issue. It was some concern there, but he thought, he had a bit fresher tyres and so it wouldn’t harm him as much.
Talking about his strategy, where he pitted a bit later than his immediate rivals, Vettel was doing as much in the first stint to keep the tyres alive. On the second stint, he felt a bit quicker already, but wanted to keep them on until the end of the race, before red flag came, which is when he changed them.
Having had a difficult start with Aston Martin, Vettel is finding his feet slowly. When asked if he feels on top of the car after Monaco and Azerbaijan, the German didn’t wish to jump ahead, noting that there’s still more to do, to eke out the best from the car.
“I think at the level that we are at it’s clear that everybody is able to drive a car very quickly so small things can make a big difference and yeah, probably took a little bit longer than I wanted to at the beginning of the season, to get on top of myself and adjusting to the car but yeah, I think I was confident that at some point it start clicking and obviously Monaco was great,” said Vettel “I think we had a good result there so that helps.
“You can argue that it takes off a bit of pressure but I think obviously the expectations in general are fairly high at the beginning of the year so it was good to get a good result and for here, I think we were fairly open-minded. It’s another street circuit, it’s a place where I think you can make a difference if you really feel confident with the car and already on Friday I felt very good, even though the results were bad, but I wasn’t concerned.
“And then in qualifying unfortunately that one run I had a lock-up and we probably didn’t get the qualifying position we could get but it was one of the races this year where actually our race pace was very strong compared to qualifying pace. I think other events we had a stronger showing in qualifying and then struggled a bit in the race. It was, if anything, the other way around, so I was very surprised when I found myself in the race, at ease, following the AlphaTauris with Yuki in the beginning and feeling faster, feeling also comfortable to follow the Ferrari follow Charles and putting pressure on so that he had to put pressure on Pierre. I think I felt quite comfortable in the car all weekend,” summed up Vettel.
Here’s Sebastian Vettel passing Pierre Gasly: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/video.2021-azerbaijan-grand-prix-vettel-passes-gasly-for-p4-on-race-restart.1701824425046678819.html
Here’s Charles Leclerc on Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin
Here’s Pierre Gasly on fight with Sebastian Vettel