x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Vettel unable to account for his poor start

The Red Bull driver gets bogged down in the first five to 10 metres, effectively costing him a chance to win the German Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel got bogged down during the first five to ten metres of the race.
Sebastian Vettel got bogged down during the first five to ten metres of the race.

Sebastian Vettel, the Red Bull-Renault driver who started the race on pole but slipped to third after the first corner, was left to rue his poor start to the race as his missed the chance to make up ground in the drivers' championship. At his home track, the German moved wide to try to block Fernando Alonso. Felipe Massa, starting from third, used the gap to pass from the outside going into the first corner while Alonso managed to slip past Vettel. The two Ferraris stayed in front for the entire race.

"Normally we have very good starts, so I'm not really sure what happened," said Vettel. "I had quite a lot of grip, I dumped the clutch, but got bogged down, so the first five to ten metres of the acceleration were poor. "I was lucky I didn't stall the engine, but I lost the momentum so I knew that it would be very tight with Fernando who I was already side by side with. There was no way I could stay ahead of him and then I was surprised to see Felipe coming from the left," he added.

"But, after that we still had a good race. The closer I got to the car in front, I began to feel tyres losing grip and starting to grain, but I think for most of the race the Ferraris were probably a tenth or two quicker than us. "It was difficult to keep up the pace. Towards the end we were able to push again a little bit. We finished third and I think we can be proud of that. We achieved our maximum today and I was very pleased to be on the podium. It's very special for me at my home Grand Prix, it's great to see the people here and to be on the podium - to see everyone cheering is very nice and emotional."

Mark Webber, Vettel's teammate, finished sixth and Red Bull will just be pleased there was no repeat of the spat which overshadowed the Australian's win at Silverstone last time out. "I enjoyed the first part of the race and had a good scrap with Lewis Hamilton [the McLaren driver]," said Webber. "He didn't look too comfortable on the option tyre and I was getting held up a bit. When I came in for a pit stop, I thought Lewis might come in at the same time, but he stayed out a lap longer.

"In the end, the guys did a very good job, but we came back out in traffic. It was a little bit of a gamble to try and jump Lewis and we lost a bit of track to him. Jenson Button tried a different strategy and went longer and unfortunately was able to jump me. After that we had an oil consumption problem, so we had to concentrate on getting the car to the end. I wasn't in the main fight today, but I'll be back. It's competitive at the front and that's how it should be, so we're looking forward to the next race."

Christian Horner, Red Bull's team principal, said yesterday's was a difficult race especially because they conceded the lead in the beginning of the race. "Today's race was dictated by the start," Horner said. "Unfortunately Sebastian didn't get away cleanly and ended up on the right-hand side of the track. Massa got a good run on the left and we emerged from Turn one in P3 - that's what shaped the race as far as Sebastian was concerned."

* Agencies