Sebastian Vettel took full responsibility for the “huge mistake” that saw him crash out of first place in the German Grand Prix and cost him the championship lead.
With rain falling but the majority of the field trying to continue on slick tires, Vettel had pulled out a lead of nearly 10 seconds over Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen when he ran straight on at the Sachskurve and hit the barrier. Unable to get the car out of the gravel, Vettel punched his steering wheel in frustration as he retired and then saw main championship rival Lewis Hamilton go on to win the race.
“I think it was a huge mistake, a huge impact on the race, because we retired there,” Vettel said. “But it’s not like tonight I’ll have difficulties to fall asleep because of what I’ve done wrong. I think it’s disappointing because up until that point everything was sweet, but yeah, we didn’t need the rain.
“We had a strong car, I think we can be as confident as … more than anybody else. It was a very positive weekend and it was just one of those moments. It’s my mistake, apologies to the team, they did everything right. I had it in my hands, small mistakes, big disappointment.
“It was not a massive mistake from my point of view. Obviously the impact on the race result was massive but that’s why it’s disappointing because I think we had the race in the bag. We had the speed, we managed up to that point but we didn’t need the rain today.”
Despite the incident, Vettel believes he made the right call to still be on track on slick tires despite ongoing discussions with his team about potentially switching to intermediates.
“I think it was OK, I think the dry tires were still the best. My tires were not fresh so it was naturally a bit more difficult but quite a small mistake with a big effect. I was just a tiny bit too late, locked the fronts and then locked the rears and couldn’t turn in.
“I think we managed at that point before. The tires were getting colder and colder — it’s something I did wrong and should have done better, but it wasn’t the biggest mistake I’ve done. It was probably one of the most costly ones but that’s how it goes sometimes.”