Sebastian Vettel admitted he was unhappy with the delay from Ferrari in choosing which strategy to put him on in the Spanish Grand Prix, after having asked for a decision during the race.
Qualifying outside the top 10 meant Vettel had a free tire choice from 11th on the grid and started on the medium compound, but his first pit stop came on the same lap as teammate Charles Leclerc, who started on softs. With 37 laps still to go, Vettel was lapping strongly on soft tires as others pit around him and asked what Ferrari wanted to do. He only got a response to go for a one-stop a number of laps later — which caused an angry reaction from the German on team radio.
“It’s quite simple, we didn’t have anything to lose,” Vettel said. “We were P11 and trying to offset until the end of the race. We were catching the cars in front and then they pitted for their second stop, but I was not in a rush to catch them, managing my tires, then I was told to push, which I did.
“And then I was asked if I could make it to the end and I said, ‘Well, you could have asked that a couple of laps before,’ because I’d asked a couple of times what’s the target and how long we want to go, so I could look after my tires.
“I said we’ll try to make it. The last five laps were really difficult — it helped that we got lapped, to be honest. We took that risk because we had nothing to lose and it did pay off, but it was not the plan before the race to do close to 40 laps on the soft tire.”
Vettel’s radio message included some expletives after he had pushed to know what Ferrari’s plan was, but it worked out in the end as he finished seventh to score six points. Despite the improved result in a new chassis, Vettel says he’s still not fully comfortable with his car.
“Mixed, to be honest. It’s still up and down. Some sessions feel better than others. The first stint was quite poor, the second stint I felt much more in control of the car, so still some work to do on my side.”