By: Myanna Wedes
The race under the lights was superb with safety car interventions, driver error and questions to be answered regarding the strategy carried out by Ferrari in terms of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel. The victor was Vettel who thanked the fans who have been supportive of him recently in a time of hardship though he prefers to look at it as just a dip in performance rather than a slump. Happy is the key term to describe the victory though not over the moon and no sense of relief. He is treating it as business as usual. The emotions between the two Ferrari teammates were interesting to witness first hand: bit of office politics!
The race was mixed for many with a few too many safety car appearances in particular for Lewis Hamilton who felt that it allowed Ferrari to move ahead due to the number of laps it was out. Unfortunately, for Hamilton he burned the rubber up in two laps and then was informed to go longer. Sometimes, the strategy works and at times it fails. The main thing is, they win and lose asa team which is important because if anyone feels satisfied with the result, they are probably kidding themselves as the World Championship is still open. Leclerc was not a happy camper and he has every right to be. He had the victory taken from his finger tips and there will be a meeting to discuss how it all unfolded and why Vettel ended up on the top step instead of the Monaco driver.
Sochi will a race where others can reset whilst for those who did not perform today, it will be an opportunity to review, learn and grow. Watching the drivers out on track was incredible because you can understand why they work so hard to stay focused inside the cockpit. There is bumps, heat, sparks and those looking for gaps that do not exist. Ferrari found an advantage and utilised it. The upgrades have worked and their efforts rewarded with singing the Italian anthem and fireworks to celebrate. A full analysis is below as to how the top three drivers saw the race play out.
Q: Charles, congratulations, second place a good result for you though decided on strategy. How surprised were you when Seb pitted?
CL: “To be honest today I was surprised I could not have done much things better or differently. From the car it is very frustrating. Not complete happy today. Overall the result for the weekend is positive. We hoped for at least one car on the podium. We go back home with a 1-2. This is very positive.
Q: Charles, you said you will come back stronger. What have you learned today?
CL: “To be honest, I do not think there was anything I could do differently. I will ask more about the strategy. If I should have pushed a bit earlier. We have plenty of data to analyse.”
Q: Max, great result for you. Is there anything you could have done differently to beat the red cars today?
MV: “No. Nothing extra to do. The car was a bit better, I could follow a bit. I was not in the position to attack. The cars in front of me never really pulled away. It was about tyre management anyways. It was about staying alert with the safety car restart as well. For us, after the difficulty in qualifying, it is was good to be on the podium”.
Q: Charles, in the morning briefing, what was the strategy in terms of the second or first undercut?
CL: “We did not speak about the plan. This will be one of the discussions to to try and understand why we did not speak about that situation before. It is impossible to go through all the possibilities in a race. All of them are unique. We have to think about this situation.”
Q: Charles, you said you did not know Seb pitted. If you had known that, would you have pushed harder for your inlap?
CL: “At that time, the tyres were quite dead but before I had quite a lot of margin. In the first few laps, obviously we wanted to go slow as much as we possibly could so the guys behind did not have the window to pit. I stick to the plan. This helped us to do 1-2 today. You can always do something better but at the end, I stick to the plan”.
Q: Sebastian, welcome back to the middle seat. What is your overriding emotion right now?
SV: “Happy. Obviously it has been a good night. I knew it would be tricky from where we started and tried to push hard from the start. It was close but fair with Lewis. I knew that usually the races around here start slow and that Charles would take it easy to control the race. Last corner before the pit entry, I pushed as hard as I could in the out lap and was surprised Lewis did not react. I was surprised by their pace. I tried to slice through traffic as good as I could. The overriding emotion is happy with how the night went”.
Q: Seb, you were referring to some messages you got from fans after the race. Can you tell us about this, how do you get the messages?
SV: “People were able to send messages before social media even if that is difficult for some people to imagine. When you start it is difficult to imagine people following you. In Asia, I have a lot of support. I just got a lot of energy in the past couple of weeks from messages: in the racing world, people I have known for a long time and fans. People sharing their own story of when things are up and down. Some were very intimate and private, it gave me a lot of belief and confidence to just keep trying and obviously nothing was wrong in the past few weeks. Charles has been very strong and was right to win the last two races. On our side, we keep doing our job and things would fall into place.”
Q: Charles, there was a lot of radio communication and emotions. How was it to continue?
CL: “Obviously, during the safety car I was quite often on the radio but as soon as the safety car went away, I focused on the job and do the best in my race. In the car it was frustrating. Then you see things a bit differently even though I need some explanations to understood fully why these decisions were taken.”
Q: Sebastian, it is good to get the result after your form and slump. How satisfying is to answer your critics? Is it a relief?
SV: “Less satisfying than what you would think. I could have done a better job yesterday. Recently, there has not been things wrong in general. I messed up in the race at Monza. It is part of the game. It is just how the tide turns sometimes and I have the highest expectation to myself and I am not happy when I am not delivering what I can. Equally, I know that it was not as bad or disastrous as what people put together. You get hammered when there are bad moments. I have been at moments when things are wrong. Lately, I did not feel like any big changes were necessary. It is a confirmation not a “relief”. I have to pull through and go through it myself.”
Q: Sebastian, this time you do not need to move around the number one and two signs, Charles may differ, just drawing on that, was it it a team victory or a personal one?
You are very misled if you think you are bigger than this team. No individual can be bigger than this team. I said on the radio, this is a victory for the team. If you look at the hard facts after we got destroyed in Hungary, we had a second between the leaders. To be in a position where we fought for pole and take control of the race is a team success. Of course, you are looking after your own race and yourself. Nothing can beat this team. Down at Monza, up for the team. Today, more for myself though still up for the team. We must do better. Mercedes were stronger on their used set of softs. There are still things we can look at.”
Q: What are your feelings after the race?
MV: “Not good enough. We came here to win. Yesterday was worse than today. It is a little wake up call. From Austria onwards, maybe our worst race in terms of performance. The layout at Sochi is not amazing for us. You can see if the car is working through corners or not. The car was not working like I wanted it to. We will go home and see what we can do better.”
Q: Charles, obviously the strategy with Seb made sense with Lewis there, did you anticipate the team may swap you back, was this discussed on the radio?
CL: “Not discussed on the radio. I waited for the decision of the team. I did not expect anything. I just focused on the job I had to do”.
Q: Max, after the third safety car, obviously Lewis was in the DRS zone, what was the key to keeping him behind?
MV: “Lewis was pushing hard. My tyres were going off. With seven laps to go, I did not have any problems, more like four laps to go. I had to make sure I had good exits out of crucial corners. We managed to do that. I guess the people in the garage were more nervous”.
Q: Sebastian, it has been over 391 days since your last victory in F1. How do you rank this one?
SV: “I do not know to be honest. I am in a very very lucky position to look back on so many. You look forward to the next one. I am not happy if there are chances I cannot take. Well-deserved by Charles in the last few weeks. I am happy for today.”
Q: What is the level of communication like within the team?
CL: “I think the level of how much we speak in the team is very good. There will always be situations you do not speak about. The meetings are already long.”
SV: “Obviously we try to speak about things in the race and what can happen. As you might imagine, you try to get on with your job in the car. It is an exceptional team. It stands first”.
|3||33||Max Verstappen||RED BULL RACING HONDA||61||+3.821s||15|
|6||23||Alexander Albon||RED BULL RACING HONDA||61||+11.663s||8|
|7||4||Lando Norris||MCLAREN RENAULT||61||+14.769s||6|
|8||10||Pierre Gasly||SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA||61||+15.547s||4|
|10||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||61||+17.855s||1|
|11||8||Romain Grosjean||HAAS FERRARI||61||+35.436s||0|
|12||55||Carlos Sainz||MCLAREN RENAULT||61||+35.974s||0|
|13||18||Lance Stroll||RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES||61||+36.419s||0|
|15||26||Daniil Kvyat||SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA||61||+38.178s||0|
|16||88||Robert Kubica||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||61||+47.024s||0|
|17||20||Kevin Magnussen||HAAS FERRARI||61||+86.522s||0|
|NC||7||Kimi Räikkönen||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||49||DNF||0|
|NC||11||Sergio Perez||RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES||42||DNF||0|
|NC||63||George Russell||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||34||DNF||0|