Vettel 'too close' to successfully pass at restart

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Belgian Grand Prix
© XPB 

Sebastian Vettel came within inches of passing title rival Lewis Hamilton for the lead as the cars headed down the Kemmel Straight at the restart on lap 34 of the Belgian Grand Prix.

In the end, Hamilton was able to hold on to the position into Les Combes, and Vettel lost his last chance to steal victory from the Mercedes driver.

"It was good fun, it was really intense," said Vettel after the race. "Every lap I was waiting for Lewis to do a mistake, he didn't. He was probably waiting for me to make a mistake, I didn't. So it was really close.

"The restart is why I'm not entirely happy. I was fearing that I was not close enough, but I was too close!

"If I had to do it again maybe I would try a bit different," he admitted.

"It was difficult to find the right timing and the right gap," he explained. "It's not all that straightforward, because I also need to look at what people are doing behind. If you're too far away then it's silly because you miss even half a chance.

"Exiting Turn 1 I was all over Lewis. It was not that hard to follow so close, and maybe that was the problem," he explained. "On top of the hill I had to go out and then it's a drag race along the outside. No where really to go.

"We know they had very good straight line speed on quali mode and at the start of the race," he added. "I felt how strong they were up the hill at the start, so I didn't want to be too far [back] either."

Overall, Vettel was happy with the way that the Ferrari had performed. He felt that it had been a match for their rivals in every phase of the race - and in some places, somewhat better.

"We had the pace," he insisted. "We were pushing them all the race. At no time in the race were we slower.

"I think we had phases though where we were a bit faster. We were better with the tyres even though I was following close the whole first stint. So plenty of positives, and that's where we need to continue."

"It was difficult to follow in the middle sector, but we stayed close. Maybe benefited in the first and last sector. But overall the car was very good.

"We didn't change too much compared to Silverstone. That shows on the one hand that Silverstone was just a bad weekend, but also that we improved the car - especially in race pace."

In Vettel's view, if there was one aspect of Ferrari's performance that is holding it back, it's in failing to do better in qualifying." Hamilton took pole for Sunday's race at Spa, with Vettel starting from second place.

"If we'd had let's say a better day yesterday with pole then it's a different story," he said. "Then I think it would be difficult for them to get past. Similar for us to get past them.

"We are more or less the same on pace. If you're more or less the same then usually you're fighting for the same bit of track and you struggle to overtake.

"We know we need to improve in qualifying. They are able to turn up the engine compared to everyone else by at least three or four tenths. It makes a difference.

"Overall if we can change that trend in qualifying where life for them may be a bit too easy then it's a different Sunday."

Vettel is hoping that the team can achieve exactly that in next week's race, at Ferrari's home circuit in Monza.

"We had very good pace. If you compare this track to Silverstone, it was a lot better here. We've done good steps forward. Looking forward to next week obviously, our home race."

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