Vettel: When win was lost, I served the team
It’s not a common occurrence to hear Sebastian Vettel being told to move aside for his team mate, but that’s what occurred during the Belgian Grand Prix. Once the German knew a win was not on the cards, he says his focus switched to playing the team game…
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc had been impressive throughout the Belgian Grand Prix weekend, the Monegasque continuing that supreme pace into Sunday’s race and comfortably leading from pole in the opening stint.
The Scuderia opted to box Vettel early when it was clear he was struggling for performance. And while Leclerc dropped behind his team mate after stopping later, his speed advantage was such that the Scuderia made the call to Vettel to move over.
Vettel then played the team game by controlling his pace and keeping the faster Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton at bay for as long as he could in a bid to aid his team mate’s victory chances. It paid off, with Leclerc winning his first Grand Prix, a day after the passing of his close friend and F2 racer Anthoine Hubert.
“For the team, yes, I’m happy. For myself I’m not happy,” admitted Vettel after the race. “I didn’t have the pace ultimately, I was struggling to stay on top of the tyres, which is normally not a problem for me.
“It was a tough race. From the first stop onwards, it was clear we wouldn’t be in the fight. So all I could do by then is serve the team.
“I was struggling in the corners, so that allowed [Hamilton] to get close. I couldn’t hold him off for a very long time. I tried to make him lose time in order to give Charles a cushion. In the end it was just enough. It did the job.”
For his part, Leclerc was very thankful for his team mate’s efforts. “Seb has been very nice,” he said. “Without him, it would have been a lot more difficult to win this race, so thanks to him.”
Victory for Leclerc means he is now just 12 points behind Vettel in the drivers’ standings, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen only 12 further ahead.
Drivers's standings post-Spa
|1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes||268|
|2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes||203|
|3 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing||181|
|4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari||169|
|5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari||157|