Sebastian Vettel blames Max Verstappen for the collision between the two in the Japanese Grand Prix that ultimately limited him to sixth place.
A strong start from Vettel had promoted him to fourth place from eighth on the grid when he attempted to pass Verstappen down the inside into Spoon. The two drivers touched and Vettel spun, dropping to 19th before fighting back to finish sixth. The incident was investigated but no further action was taken, although Verstappen was penalized for a different incident. Vettel did not complain about the stewards’ decision but feels Verstappen should have left him more space.
“Well I’m not a big fan of penalties and all that,” Vettel said. “I think we go racing, not drive around and wait for decisions from outside. I think it’s the right thing not to look at every incident and try to always come out with some penalty.
“Nevertheless, obviously for me I went for the gap that was there and as soon as Max saw that I was side by side, he tried everything to squeeze me but didn’t give me any room. So, then it was then inevitable to make contact.”
The collision occurred on Lap 8, with Vettel eager to chase down the Mercedes pair leading the race, and he says it was the right time to try and make the move given the situation.
“How many times you can afford to wait? Obviously, I am racing not just him. I’m racing also the guys in front, ideally. His battery was de-rating, I saw the light flashing. I saved up my battery on the way up through the Esses, trying to stay close, had a good exit from the hairpin and had a big tow through Turn 12 and was side by side when we hit the brakes and turned in.
“I had similar encounters with others and we managed to make it through the corner. Obviously not the prime overtaking spot but, if you’re side by side then I think that it’s fair. On this occasion I did my best to try and avoid contact. But he kept closing — where am I supposed to go?
“I don’t know (if he’d make the attempt again), you can turn this whatever way you want. But, don’t get me wrong or seem arrogant — for me the gap was there. Knowing that, obviously he closes the door and we don’t make the corner, then, no, you don’t do it again. But I don’t think there was anything wrong with trying.”