Sebastian Vettel says he chose his Niki Lauda tribute helmet design at the Monaco Grand Prix to give the Austrian some more laps around the historic circuit.
Three-time Formula 1 world champion Lauda passed away on Monday at the age of 70, following a number of health problems over the past year. Lauda won two of his three titles with Ferrari, and Vettel took part in Thursday’s practice sessions running his iconic red helmet design, which the German says is based on the one he wore in his final season with the Scuderia in 1977.
“Obviously it’s not my design!” Vettel said when complimented on the helmet. “It’s to give tribute to Niki. It goes without saying that I would have preferred to have done something different here, but I think given the circumstances and his passing it felt like a good thing and nice thing to do.
“I think it actually looks quite cool — it’s based on his last Ferrari design. Maybe it’s nice to take him around for a couple of final laps around Monaco.”
Although third quickest in FP2, Vettel was over 0.7s slower than pace-setter Lewis Hamilton in both sessions and says problems getting the tires working properly have a big impact on a circuit such as Monaco.
“We tried a lot of things; they didn’t really work so not that productive. Overall, struggling a bit, obviously lacking a bit of pace compared to Mercedes, and struggling a bit to get the tires to really work, so a bit of work ahead of us.
“It’s a bit of everything, so not exactly what you’d like around here. You’d like to know what the car is going to do so you can anticipate a bit more. But I’m sure come Saturday things should calm down. Maybe it’s a bit warmer as well, that could help us.
“I’ve not yet got the full level of confidence. It was tricky to get the tires in the right window — we struggled maybe a bit more than other people. But it’s not the first time we saw this in practice, so looking forward to Saturday we have a bit of time now to try a couple of things and go through some stuff.”