Sebastian Vettel says his fightback in the chaotic German Grand Prix is important for Ferrari’s morale after the team came under fire on Saturday.
After Ferrari was quickest in every practice session, an issue with the airflow to the turbo saw Vettel unable to take part in qualifying, while Charles Leclerc missed Q3 with a fuel system problem. Starting from last on the grid, Vettel produced an excellent drive in changeable conditions, rising to fifth by the time the final Safety Car set up a five-lap sprint to the finish, and then overtaking Carlos Sainz, Lance Stroll and Daniil Kvyat to take second place.
“After the disappointing day yesterday, where everything was ready — the crowd was ready; I was ready, the team was ready — obviously we didn’t have qualifying, so starting last today I was very excited about the race in these conditions,” Vettel said. “Anything can happen.
“The race turned out a lot crazier than I thought beforehand but yeah, I’m very happy. I’m very happy for the team first of all. It’s a tough period for us. We are pushing very hard — we are doing mistakes, we are not where we want to be, but we need to keep believing in ourselves, in our abilities, our strengths, and I’m confident that our days will come.
“Obviously today very happy for myself, at my home race and it was great to see the crowd — especially at the end, every time I passed in the car they were really excited. I really did enjoy that. A crazy race — a lot of decisions to make, a lot of communications between the car and the pit wall, but I think we stayed calm and tried to do the best at the time.
“Most of the time we were right, sometimes we were wrong but we kept it clean and I think that was the key. In the end I really started to come alive in these mixed conditions on dry tires, we were quite comfortable and able to make good progress, because I think two Safety Cars to the end I was still not even in the top 10 and I was thinking, ‘What happened?’ But it was a day like that and a race like that, so I’m quite happy.”
Vettel sees the final result as particularly significant given the reaction Ferrari faced to its problems on Saturday.
“Max (Verstappen) finished first so it’s not a victory but starting last, with the race that we had, I think we can certainly be very happy recovering and I think it was a very tough race, easy to lose focus or momentum but we kept it throughout.
“It’s certainly a tough time for us as Ferrari with days like yesterday because it shows that we have things that we need to sort out — we have things that we need to do better but I think in this period it’s very important that we keep the morale, we keep supporting the team.
“From the inside that is happening, from the outside I hope it’s happening as well. I know the tifosi are behind us but sometimes the headlines can shift in either way, so it’s important that we keep the support because I think things are moving — we are pushing very very hard and when it comes to passion I think we put a lot of effort and a lot of hours in; the people are very determined.
“I’m as impatient as everyone else to get the results finally but it will take a little while. We know what we can improve and that’s what we are working on; but in the meantime I hope that people are a bit patient and give us that freedom in that time. But yeah, in that regard it feels like a small victory today.”