It might not have looked like the best option with hindsight, but Scuderia Ferrari German driver Sebastian Vettel is insistent that the Maranello team’s two-stop strategy was their best course of action in the Spanish Grand Prix. The four-time Formula One world champion made a brilliant getaway, picking up a tow off Valtteri Bottas before catapulting past into Turn 1 to run second behind race leader Lewis Hamilton.
He was on course to finish in P2 before Ferrari pitted him for a second time – while his immediate rivals all made a one-stop strategy work – and that dropped him to fourth. Sebastian Vettel explained that Ferrari had little option than to pit again, as the Prancing Horse simply could not use the tyres as efficiently as Mercedes and Red Bull: “We couldn’t make the tyres last so for us. It was clear we had to come in again. I think it was the right thing to do. If you look from outside it’s easier, but inside the car, we were going through the tyres too quick. Therefore we were not able to stay out for another 23 laps. Even in the end, with a fresher set, I wasn’t able to attack until the end.” – he explained.
Scuderia Ferrari have had the best car so far this year, but Spain marked a turning point with Mercedes dominating throughout the weekend. Sebastian put their drop in form down to three things: speed, tyres – referring to the change in tread depth for this specific race – and reliability: “First, we were not quick enough. If we’re not able to see that, we’re more than blind because we didn’t have the pace in the first stint. Second, I think we struggled a bit over the course of the weekend with the tyres. They changed but they changed for everyone. Our ambition needs to be that we’re better off rather than worse off. Third, I think it was a poor weekend in terms of reliability. Kimi [Raikkonen] had an issue with the engine [on Friday], had to change the engine and obviously then retired in the race.”
As a results, Sebastian Vettel has called on Ferrari to address their problems from Spain in a stark assessment of the Scuderia’s unexpected slump in form in Barcelona. The German driver, who has not been on the podium since winning the opening two races of the season, fell 17 points behind Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton in the title race after finishing fourth in Sunday’s Spanish GP: “We have to address the problems we have. Today was a not good day and it’s important we understand why. We didn’t have a winning pace, it’s as simple as that. We had updates and maybe the others brought more than us. The tyres changed and maybe that suited others better than us. But why find excuses? The bottom line is that we were not quick enough and that needs to be addressed.” – he concluded.