Vettel: I was a bit surprised by the slow pace in the opening lap

Sebastian Vettel on his way to second in the Monaco GP
Sebastian Vettel on his way to second in the Monaco GP

World champion Sebastian Vettel extended his championship points lead over his closest rivals with second place at the Monaco Grand Prix. He spoke about his race day at the principality.

Podium for you in the race, you must be delighted that you’ve extended your championship lead?
Sebastian Vettel: Yeah, I think overall I’m very happy and pleased with the result. We know that it’s very difficult to overtake here. I think first of all congratulations to Nico, he did a very good job, a very controlled race. I think he had the pace and the tyres to respond whenever we tried to get a little bit closer, yeah. The start of the race… fantastic start but no room. I think I could have gone past both Mercedes but didn’t have the room, had to lift. Then Mark came and it was tight into the first corner. And after that I was a bit surprised by the slow pace in the opening laps. Usually you expect two silver arrows in front of you and there were two buses today going for a cruise – at least in the first couple of laps. But obviously the strategy was clear and they did a very good job. We were lucky on the strategy point of view. The team did a fantastic job to get past Lewis, so yeah. After that, with the restart: pretty difficult. Warm-up was very, very tricky. I saw Lewis was all over Mark behind me, so I think we can happy with the result. Great achievement from the team again. We seem to like this place the last couple of years so very happy. Congratulations, thank you, thanks to our partners as well. Thanks to Infinity, they are pushing an awful lot in the last couple of months to help us and I think it goes without saying, thanks to Renault as well, two cars out of three on the podium again powered by Renault – in ‘Little France’ in a way, so it’s sort of a home grand prix for them so congratulations as well. Overall, as I said, pretty happy.

You have hinted that the Mercedes were slower in the opening stint than you expected them to be. You said it was fair play to them but you could tell they were driving to a tactic today.
SV: Yes, definitely. I think we could see that the field didn’t spread out, so as I said, they did what worked best for them. Obviously Lewis lost a couple of positions with the safety car – I’m sure he’s not too pleased about that – but we took that, no question. Yeah, I think it was very marginal on one stop. I think the red flag helped all of us to put a fresh set of tyres on to save that ten, eleven laps, total race distance. It was clear what they were doing a couple of laps after the start. They were going quite slow and trying to obviously make the one stop happen. And fair play, they were in the lead, around here it’s very tricky to pass. Every time I tried to get a little bit closer with Lewis… in the beginning with Lewis it was quite close, yeah they reacted, they had the pace, so they could afford to go slow and then if they had to, they had the pace to pick it up again. In that regard, not the most exciting race because you just wait for the chequered flag. It’s still a lot of laps, looking after the tyres wasn’t straightforward for us today – so overall, happy with the result we got.

Obviously when the safety car came out that caught Lewis out, the Mercedes had just completed a lap. Where exactly were you when you got the message to come into the pits?
SV: The safety car wasn’t out yet. Obviously it was a very, very good call from the team. Initially we wanted to pit a lap earlier but then we aborted that. Obviously there was a yellow and in the end I think we were just a little bit lucky. So we decided to pit and when I changed tyres and went back out, at the same moment the safety car came – which probably helped us a little bit. I don’t know if Lewis had a problem with the stop or if it was just down to the fact that the safety car came at the wrong time for him. But, yeah, it was nice. At some stage I was hoping that it might be enough to get Nico as well but he obviously was in the lead by quite a bit at that time, before we came in.