Sebastian Vettel escaped punishment after being summoned to the stewards at the Bahrain Grand Prix and is focused on beating teammate Charles Leclerc to victory on Sunday.
The stewards called Vettel to explain why he drove “unnecessarily slowly” during an in-lap in qualifying, with the FIA setting a maximum lap time drivers must stay below. Vettel put the slow lap down to a big lock-up at Turn 1 in Q1, leading to big vibrations that forced him to take care when returning to the pits, and the stewards decided to take no further action as a result.
Vettel will start from second place after Leclerc beat him to take his maiden pole position, and after joking he hopes his teammate doesn’t win he says the two Ferrari drivers will need to work together to hold off the threat from Mercedes behind.
“Obviously we’re racing for the same team, so I think for both of us, we’re hoping to have a strong race tomorrow,” Vettel said. “If you start one-two, you want to finish one-two, so yeah, that’s the objective for tomorrow.
“Nevertheless, it’s a long race. I think taking care of the tires will be crucial. I think on one-lap pace we looked very, very strong this weekend so far, so yeah, quali was all about confirming that and for the race I think it will be a very, very close battle with Mercedes — and also Red Bull.
“I think it’s pretty clear that from the team’s point of view we got the front row today and we obviously have a very very tough race ahead of us tomorrow, so I think we need to work as a team and try to make sure we stay first and second. I think the order is irrelevant for the team so I think it’s pretty clear. Obviously Charles starts ahead so he has the advantage of pole position and then we will see how it goes.”
Q2 saw Vettel have a scruffy lap that required a second attempt on new tires, leaving him only able to do one run in Q3. Ultimately his only lap wasn’t enough to beat Leclerc’s first benchmark, and Vettel downplayed the importance of the error.
“Overall the car was very strong so far this weekend. I’ve been a little bit more vocal about the rear not being exactly where I wanted it to be. Maybe Charles felt a little bit more confident all weekend but I think our qualifying slipped away a little bit with what happened in Q2, so you lose the rhythm a little bit.
“It wasn’t ideal but it’s not about, at this point, sitting here now — being P2 is not about arguing here and arguing there. I think you have to give credit to the polesitter, especially as it’s his first pole, so again, congrats and the focus should be on Charles today.”