Sebastian Vettel believes the updates that Ferrari took to the British Grand Prix were a key part of being able to beat Mercedes on Sunday.
Ferrari introduced an aerodynamic upgrade that included a new floor at Silverstone, a circuit that has been a Mercedes stronghold in recent years with Lewis Hamilton winning the past four races prior to 2018. With Vettel missing out on pole position by just 0.044s — despite a neck injury — and then showing impressive pace to pull out a solid lead in the opening stint, the championship leader sees the upgrades as central to that performance.
“Well, [Silverstone] was a bit different, obviously — it was very warm, which is a bit unlikely for here, compared to recent years,” Vettel said. “Also there was less wind, new asphalt, so a couple of new things but I think the main thing is that we were competitive, which we weren’t in the past.
“It’s a tricky circuit — you need to get the balance right, of downforce and drag. I think we have a very good car, we brought some bits, they seemed to work, so, I think we were very, very happy with the result. Obviously… yeah, it’s been a difficult track for us. This year I think we were a match.
“Probably there were still some weaknesses in the race at different phases. The end of the first stint, I think Valtteri [Bottas] was a bit faster overall [but] I think we had pace in hand, managed the second stint and managed the race well. If you have a car that is fast, I think you can make things happen, and that’s what we did.”
Having sat out part of FP3 due to a neck injury and been worried about the problem in qualifying, Vettel — who modified his headrest as a precaution — says his race pace did not suffer at all as a result of the concern.
“It felt good on the laps to the grid, so I took some [of the headrest bits] off. Qualifying wasn’t very enjoyable. I did as little running as possible and I had the padding just to support in the corners like Turn 8 that is easily flat, so I was resting my head. [In the race] it wasn’t necessary so I had a good feeling and the race was no problem.”