Last lap; Roquelin to Vettel on the radio: Monaco, 1988, Senna.

Sebastian Vettel with race engineer

Sebastian Vettel with race engineer Guillaume Roquelin on the podium in Montreal

Red Bull pulled Sebastian Vettel back into line, as he was about to set the fastest lap of the race, with three simple words on the very last lap of the Canadian Grand Prix.

The reigning world champion is famous for not only wanting to win races, but also secure the fastest lap of a grand prix.

So, at the start of his final tour of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve en route to victory on Sunday, Vettel began his quest with the fastest – or ‘purple’ – first sector of the entire race.

“I wasn’t surprised,” Red Bull team boss Christian Horner is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport, “but I told his race engineer to bring him under control.”

In the past, engineer Guillaume ‘Rocky’ Roquelin’s instructions to Vettel about giving up the pointless quest for fastest laps have gone mostly unheeded.

So ‘Rocky’ tried a different strategy in Canada. Three words: “Monaco, 1988, Senna”.

Ayrton Senna made a rare error to crash out of the race whilst holding a commanding lead during the 1988 Monaco GP

Ayrton Senna made a rare error to crash out of the race whilst holding a commanding lead during the 1988 Monaco GP

Like many in Formula 1, Vettel knows well the tale of how legend Ayrton Senna threw away certain victory at Monaco 25 years ago when he lost focus and crashed.

Vettel, duly backing off for a safer cruise to the chequered flag, replied to his engineer: “OK, OK – I’m just kidding.”

Perhaps the 25-year-old thought in that moment about the state of the world championship, where in his quest for an ultra-rare fourth consecutive drivers’ title he stood to stretch his points lead to Fernando Alonso to 36 points.

Ferrari’s Alonso, however, said afterwards that he’s not panicking yet.

Asked what points deficit will make him worry, the Spaniard answered on Sunday: “I think (when) we are 80 or 85 points behind.

“(That) will be a very critical situation, which is [a points gap of] more than three races.” (GMM)

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