Sebastian Vettel’s first podium of 2020 came courtesy of a spectacular start and thrilling finish at the Turkish Grand Prix.
Starting from 11th — a familiar grid position this year — Vettel was the biggest mover on the first lap as he was up to fourth place by the exit of Turn 2 and ran third by Turn 12. From there he was able to run at a pace that put him in contention for the race win and although a second pit stop for intermediate tires left him unable to fight Lewis Hamilton for victory, he overtook teammate Charles Leclerc two corners from the end and only missed out on second place to Sergio Perez in a drag race to the line.
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“I think I just anticipated it to be very, very slippery off the line, made up a few places there and then I wasn’t one of the ones who tried everything into Turn 1,” Vettel said. “Obviously there was a Renault that spun. I think everybody who was in that group was dragged to the outside and I could just snatch the inside line and make up a lot of ground.
“Then, I think it was good to have a clear track ahead and benefit from that at the beginning of the race. When we then pitted for inters I think it took a little bit too long to get into the groove, I lost a couple of positions which later on then I was catching up the field again.
“I had a good battle at that stage with Lewis (Hamilton) for a couple of laps and we pitted again. The tires then grained very quickly and I think at that part of the race maybe I was too conservative, otherwise it could have been even better — maybe less exciting at the end but better in terms of positioning, but nevertheless happy.
“Obviously happy I was able to close the gap towards the end. Sergio was right on the limit — I don’t think he had anything, not even another lap left on his tires, so it was really close across the line. I was hoping to benefit on traction but he just saved it over the line. Charles had the mistake but it was all very close for the three of us. It was a fun afternoon.”
Picking up his first podium of the season, Vettel says the result shows how track position has played such a major part in his results this year, having nearly double his tally of points from 18 to 33 in on race weekend.
“It has been a difficult year. Qualifying has been the Achilles (heel) this year. The race is obviously then largely defined by being stuck in the pack. I think it’s been a while I’ve been racing in the midfield — it’s very very close and even though you have a better pace sometimes you can’t really show. So it’s tough but we looked forward to the last couple of races and hoped for improvements this weekend.
“I think the conditions made the biggest difference. First of all the slippery track, secondly the wet conditions. Looking forward to squeezing out anything there is to squeeze in the last races to finish as high up as possible for myself and also for the team.”