Vettel ‘had to try’ to pass Bottas
Sebastian Vettel says he had to try to pass race leader Valtteri Bottas in the closing stages of the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Leading at the final restart with four laps remaining, Bottas came under fire from Vettel as they braked for the first corner.
However, in his attempt to pass, the Ferrari driver locked a brake and skated wide of the apex, dropping to fifth place behind Sergio Perez’s Force India.
“I’m happy that I tried, I’m not happy that it didn’t work, but I have to try,” said Vettel.
“I don’t think it was overly optimistic to jump down the inside. I wasn’t overly late, otherwise I don’t make the corner at all, but I did make it, just.
“I didn’t have any option – Lewis (Hamilton) was on the right so I can’t close on him. Valtteri was ahead of me, he left a gap. I was surprised, judging the braking was very difficult.
“I was a bit trapped because I couldn’t see where I was relative to Turn 1. We have our references, and they are on the right – a kerb, the signs on the wall, and on the left there is hardly any reference.
“I had a decent restart, I saw the gap on the inside, and unfortunately I locked up.
“Without the lock-up, braking at the same point, I think I make the corner and it turns out to be a good move.”
Ahead, Kimi Raikkonen ensured Ferrari was represented on the podium, though a brush with the wall in the final sector of the lap threatened that result.
“On the first lap after the restart on the little kink coming to the last part of the straight I hit the inside wall at full speed,” Raikkonen said.
“I’m pretty lucky that the front wheel didn’t go. I was expecting to go off quite fast, but I was lucky.”
Raikkonen claimed second behind Lewis Hamliton at the flag, having escaped a clash with Esteban Ocon on the opening lap.
The pair came together at Turn 2, with the Ferrari sustaining damage to the front wing forcing an early stop.
“I was inside in the corner and I don’t know if he didn’t see but he just turned in,” said Raikkonen.
“He came off worse out of it. I thought he’d know I was there because I was next to him.
“We destroyed the front wing and the tyre, changed the front wing but I didn’t check the car (for more damage).
“The car felt OK, I struggled a bit with the tyres, but I’m sure there was not big damage.”
Hamilton now leads the drivers’ championship by four points over Vettel with Raikkonen third, 22 points off the leading Mercedes.
Ferrari holds an equally slender advantage in the constructors’ title with 114 points to Mercedes’ 110, double that of Red Bull in third on 55 points.