Vettel admits that Ricciardo 'had all the answers'

Monaco Grand Prix: the cars of Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB14 and Sebastian Vettel (GER)
© XPB 

Sebastian Vettel had to settle for second place in today's Monaco Grand Prix, despite race winner Daniel Ricciardo suffering from power issues for much of the race.

"I think we had the pace, but it was a tricky race," said Vettel. "Daniel had the answers at all time.

"First stint I could follow him fairly easy, then he started to push just when Lewis started to pit. Then he was a bit stronger there and we couldn't follow. I was going through the tyres fairly quick.

"The next stint was a bit the same,: he added. "I think he had a problem halfway through with his MGU-K, I think toward the end that picked up again."

While Ricciardo was struggling with his engine, Vettel and Hamilton were have problems of their own with tyre degradation. The ultrasofts they used for the second stint started wearing earlier than had been expected.

Even Valtteri Bottas - who took a set of the supersoft tyres instead - failed to get a performance advantage. But neither Red Bull driver seemed to have any such troubles with their ultras.

"Mercedes was in a similar position to us even though they were on the harder, more robust - supposed to be - tyre," noted Vettel. "And Daniel said he had no problems at all.

"Obviously it made it difficult in the low speed corners where you don't need power. You need grip to stay with him and then benefit from the more power that we had clearly on the straights. But we couldn't.

"You could see also at the end of the first stint when Lewis pitted and then triggered the pit stops, Daniel was a lot quicker toward the end. Initially we could go his pace but then we were falling off."

Vettel maintained the pressure on Ricciardo right up until a Virtual Safety Car was declared for a crash involving Sauber's Charles Leclerc and Toro Rosso's Brendon Hartley.

Initially only a second behind the race leader, when the VSC ended, Vettel suddenly found himself left behind. He finished the race seven seconds off the Red Bull.

"I don't know what happened there," he admitted. "I don't know why I lost so much time initially.

"We had the McLaren between us, but both of them all of a sudden were gone, so I don't know. Maybe my VSC ended later than theirs. I don't know, we need to have a look at why I lost so much time."

When he did try to push for the final five laps, Vettel almost found himself running into the barriers.

"I had poor warm-ups to it was tricky and the tyres weren't in a great shape," he recalled. "I didn't want to risk anything because it's easy to have a lock up. I had one, so that was a bit of a warning.

"I just didn't have much confidence in the tyres so I lost quite a lot. Otherwise it would have been nice to keep the pressure up to the end."

Finishing in second place ahead of Hamilton means that Vettel has closed the gap in the drivers championship to just 14 points. But He said that he didn't see Hamilton as the his only rival in his title campaign this season.

"I don't think so," he objected. "The battle is between all three teams and all six drivers, so it's very early still and a long way to go.

"For sure what we take today is the points, but if you're in Monaco you want to win.

"But I think Daniel drove very well all weekend, so he deserves [the victory today.]"

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