The four-time world champion lined up a lowly 18th on the grid following an early Q1 exit in qualifying and an extra five-place grid penalty because of an FP3 incident under red flags.
After a cautious start, Vettel then scythed through the pack, as the German made the most of driving this year’s second fastest car.
“It was a fun race,” he said afterwards. “Starting from the back is always more entertaining. We had a great time in the race, the pace just kept coming so as soon as we were in free air we could progress.
“I would have loved to have had a better opening lap but there were no real gaps to dive into, so I had to wait. I started to overtake cars after that.”
Ferrari had spent their first three engine development tokens in the lead up to racing at power-hungry Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, and Vettel’s recovery proved impressive, especially without the help of any Safety Car.
But the 40-time grand prix winner remains aware of the challenge the Italian squad has on its hands in order to reel in championship leaders Mercedes.
“In the end we didn’t [challenge them], so we will never find out,” replied Vettel when asked whether he could have fought for the win with his upgraded power unit.
“Everything worked as expected. You cannot expect miracles. Look at the gap in pre-season testing, it was huge, then since then I think we were able to close some races more, some races less.
“It is not easy – they are not idiots, they are trying to make as much progress as possible, so if you close the gap then you have to make more progress, which is not easy. I think we are on the right track and things are going in the right way, so we are obviously pushing very hard.”
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