Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Sport | By Tony Jimenez

Vettel defends Ferrari's Spanish Grand Prix strategy

Vettel defends Ferrari's Spanish Grand Prix strategy

"Today the auto and myself, I felt that synergy which I hadn't been feeling for the whole year", he added in a pre-podium interview after parking up in pit lane.

"I don't know what happened".

In the process he also extended his championship lead over Sebastian Vettel to 17 points.

"You look back and you understand what is missing in the preparation to the race, or this race, or the next races".

"That happiness and that uplift from inside that I have that feeling".

The safety vehicle has helped add to the drama of the early part of the 2018 season and its appearance early in Sunday's race means it has been used in the opening five races of a championship for the first time.

Pressure had been building on the Silver Arrows following a tricky start to the season - a miscalculation by the team cost Hamilton dear in Australia and he had to settle for third and fourth-place finishes in Bahrain and China respectively.

It was largely anticipated that most teams would attempt a one-stopper strategy (soft - medium) unless rain or a late-race Safety Car period was added to the mix - and that's how it turned out to be.

"We couldn't make the tyres last so for us", said Vettel. "Even in the end, with a fresher set, I wasn't able to attack until the end".

Assessing what this victory means going forward is difficult as Barcelona has always been a strong track for Mercedes, mostly because of the use of harder tyres which suit their vehicle more than Ferrari and Red Bull. On the soft tyres, Vettel could manage 4 laps fewer (20 in total) than Alonso who managed 24 laps on his super soft. I think it was the right thing to do. This was the second time in the last five races that only one Ferrari auto reached the finish line.

But Mercedes, who pitted some 10 laps earlier than the two Red Bulls, managed their tyres to the finish, while Vettel's hopes were futher dashed by his own slow second stop under the virtual safety vehicle. The Red Bull Racing prodigy was able to keep ahead of Vettel to climb onto the last step of the podium. "Hopefully, we can just work from here and score a lot of good results". Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) + 50.058; 6.

"It felt good. It was the closest I've been to feeling it is all going right, but there are still things that are not quite ideal". Ricciardo was followed by Haas" Kevin Magnussen - strengthening belief (yet again!) - that his team is the "best of the rest' and if they string a race together, a good result is possible.

Sainz's points lifted Renault ahead of McLaren and into fourth place by a single point. Charles Leclerc (Sauber), 11.

The leading cars navigated the opening metres without drama before the error-prone Romain Grosjean, once labelled a "first-lap nutcase" by Mark Webber, lived up to that title by sparking a huge crash after he lost control of his Haas at Turn 3 and slid back across the track in a cloud of tyre smoke.

"That's more like it guys", said Lewis Hamilton, after he crossed the line to ensure a commanding victory in the Spanish GP here on Sunday.

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