Scuderia Ferrari German driver Sebastian Vettel put the blame at the feet of Max Verstappen after a collision sent him into a spin that all but ends the Ferrari man’s hopes of beating Lewis Hamilton to the world title. Seb clattered into Verstappen while trying to dive down the inside at the early safety car restart of the Japanese Grand Prix, with Hamilton going on to win.
The German driver jumped from eighth on the grid to fourth at the end of the opening lap – which concluded under safety car conditions – but the restart would ultimately be ruinous for the Ferrari. Verstappen had already earned a five-second penalty for a collision with Kimi Raikkonen, but Vettel dismissed the notion he should have waited to get past Verstappen as he served his penalty.
“I was obviously pushing to get past but I wasn’t desperate to get past,” Vettel told Sky Sports – “I knew he had a penalty but I also felt we were faster and then he was clipping on the straight with the battery and I was catching – obviously the Safety Car helped to be closer and then the gap was there. As soon as he saw me, he obviously defended but I had the inside and as soon as he realised someone’s close or next to him he tries to – in my opinion – push when you shouldn’t push any more. Look at Kimi – he’s off the track and comes back and if Kimi just drives on, they collide. It’s not always right that the other guy has to move. I think we’re all racing, the race is long. For me, the gap was there – otherwise I don’t do it. I got through the whole field without any trouble, sometimes closer, sometimes with more margin, but it’s normal that sometimes it gets close. But if you don’t leave a space… and in that case I couldn’t go anywhere and… yeah, then we touched.” – he added.
Asked if he had considered a more cautious approach, Vettel snapped back: “Do you ask him whether he should think twice when he defends? In the end, we’re all racing so this is part of racing, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t regret the move. Obviously with that outcome, you would do different because, with hindsight it’s always easy. But as I said inside the car: the gap was there, his battery was clipping, I was boosting, I saved my battery, I had more speed. I would make the corner, I was side by side and then he didn’t give enough room and then we touched.”