Sebastian Vettel acknowledges it was all about the crucial timing of his pass on Lewis Hamilton for the win in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa.
Vettel started Sunday’s 44-lap Belgian Grand Prix from second on the grid having lost out to Hamilton in a wet qualifying. However, he made short work of the Mercedes driver, slipstreaming him on the opening lap to pass him up the hill.
It could have resulted in a very different outcome as the Force Indias, running third and fourth on the opening lap, attacked at the same time.
Vettel, though, had the advantaged and held onto it to set up his 52nd win. Sunday’s triumph moves him ahead of Alain Prost and up to third on the list of all-time wins.
“More wins than Alain, wow,” he said. “I had a great start and then I am not sure Lewis saw me, he pushed me quite far to the left, but I knew my chance would be later on, up the hill.
I think I timed it well. Obviously, last year I was always ending up short. It seems like it was better this year because we had a little bit less [rear] wing and timing is crucial. I managed that perfectly, I thought, but then the Force India came as well but as soon as I was ahead I was quite relieved.
But then the Safety Car came and it was the other way round. I had a good restart, a very good exit off the first corner and I kept it clean. It was tricky with the tailwind, braking for the first turn, but after that, it was a very smooth race.
Lewis pushed very hard, towards the end of the first stint he was very fast and the second stint I could turn everything down a little bit and control the pace a bit.”
Although Hamilton kept Vettel honest throughout the first half of the race, running roughly three seconds behind the Ferrari driver, Vettel pulled away in the second half to win by 11 seconds.
The other Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen retired due to a lot of damage to his car after the first corner accident:
“Ricciardo hit me on the rear and I had a lot of damage, said Raikkonen after his race was run. Also on the floor [and] rear wing, as I needed to do the full lap with a flat tyre. Then it ended up being so bad that the DRS opened itself all the time, so obviously there was no point in carrying on. Obviously it was far from ideal.”