Sebastian Vettel: Kimi Raikkonen was ‘a lot faster’ in Hungarian GP
Hungarian Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel has admitted Ferrari Formula 1 team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was "a lot faster" than him as he struggled with steering problems.
Vettel realised on the grid that his car’s steering was not right, but he hung on ahead of Raikkonen and the Mercedes to take a win that rebuilt his F1 championship lead over fourth-placed finisher Lewis Hamilton to 14 points.
Though Raikkonen repeatedly told Ferrari over the team radio that he was faster, they maintained position throughout.
"Kimi had good pace and could go a lot faster than me for the majority of the race," Vettel acknowledged.
He said the steering problem had worsened through the grand prix.
"It was a tough one. I was hoping for a bit more of a quiet afternoon," said Vettel.
"I felt already there was something not right when we dropped the car on the grid.
"The steering wheel was not on straight. It didn’t feel right and then it got worse.
"I did try to adapt, I knew you could not change it, and then I tried to save the rears.
"We spoke a little bit on the radio about it, talking through the problem.
"They told me to avoid the kerbs but on a track where you use the kerbs, it compromises your performance.
"In the second stint I wanted to make sure I could use the tyres so I was holding back.
"In the end I was pretty well flat out and they were behind me queuing.
"It is good you cannot overtake around his track. I had no room for error."
Raikkonen had challenged Vettel at the start but was then stuck behind him for the rest of the race.
"Our starts were pretty similar and I got a tow effect and with a team mate I am not going to force the issue at the first corner," said Raikkonen.
"We’re going to fight but fight fair, but since that moment there is not an awful lot you can do.
"We were pretty safe stint on the first stint as we pulled away from Mercedes and then I caught up at the end of the stint.
"I had the whole race following Sebastian and hoping he goes as fast as he can and not saving tyres, as the Mercedes was catching me."
Hamilton closed on the two Ferraris in the closing stages, but Raikkonen said he never felt under real pressure.
"I was not too worried because car was handling well," he said.
"I could follow [Vettel] very well.
"But it wasn’t ideal because I felt I had the speed and I was stuck in the middle."
Q: Kimi, there’s huge Finnish support here, maybe a couple of words of Finnish for your fans before we got to English…
Kimi Raikkonen: Oh, I think they all understand English. Obviously great support, unfortunately I couldn’t give them the win. We had a one-two as a team, so I had a great car today, but obviously when you… I had a mistake yesterday in qualifying. I got a good start but I didn’t want to force the issue and obviously after that just kept following the 71 laps. Not ideal, obviously I want to win, but it’s great for the team.
Q: You have been very consistent on this race track, this is your eighth podium here. Sadly, six of those have been second place. Clearly you had the speed today; it’s just impossible to overtake on this circuit…
KR: Yeah, the other guy has to do quite a big mistake or have some issue. It’s not easy to overtake and especially with team-mates you take more care. But at least they are still happy – that’s the main thing.
Q: Kimi, how do you feel after that one? You’ve said that you had a very good car, do you think you had the pace to win this grand prix?
KR: Yeah, definitely. But obviously… I had a pretty decent start, our starts were pretty similar but obviously I get the tow effect and braked slightly later but obviously I’m not going to force the issue in the first corner. We’re going to fight, but we’re going to fight fair. Since that moment there is not an awful lot you can do. I had a very good car today, like it was yesterday, but obviously my mistake didn’t help. The biggest chance was in the start and then took it quite easily at the beginning and my car was handling well and I was closing up. We were pretty on the safe side in the first stint because we pull away from Mercedes and then I catch up with Sebastian again in the end of the first stint but once he went in I had very good speed, I could have stayed longer out. I guess there are reasons – maybe the Mercedes they stopped earlier and they fresh tyres so… Anyhow, the whole race, basically, following Sebastian and hoping that he goes as fast as he can but not saving tyres because then there was a Mercedes catching me. Once you are in the middle it’s a bit awkward place, because if you get a bad exit in the last corner or something the guy behind you with the DRS might get you with a good run but actually maybe once when I got a little bit sideways. I must say the car was great today. I was just, basically, following my own rear wing, same looking at least. Obviously I want to win but great for the team.
And Kimi, that pressure from Mercedes?
KR: I was really not too worried. Obviously I talk with the team in the radio but I was not too worried because my car was handling so well. Even though I was very close, the whole race, to Sebastian, my car was still very good and no issue with the tyres. I could follow very well through the last corners. I had only one… two times a small issue in the second-last corner and then in the last corner pushed a bit too much, really the only time my car snapped, even once. But it wasn’t ideal, obviously, because I felt I had speed and I was stuck in the middle because then it’s always… we know how fast they can be on the straights sometimes, Mercedes. I also felt pretty comfortable because my car was so good that I didn’t really… once there was traffic or something and I dropped a little bit back, I could just speed up and make the gap before the last few corners. So, that was just… to know what we were going to do because I could have slowed down in the first part and speed up in the last part. It helped me a bit. Not a big worry.
Q: (Péter Vámosi – Vas Népe) Question to both Finnish drivers. Are you interested in a day competing in the Race of Champions as Team Finland? Mostly the question is for Kimi as you had opportunities with testing Peugeot at World Endurance Racing, NASCAR, whatever, so you have really tried out many cars. And Valtteri, what are you interested in more; to compete in Race of Champions or Stars and Cars?
KR: I’ve been asked to be there many times but I always said that once they go back to how it started with rally cars and then the proper circuit with the two lines, with the gravel and asphalt, I’ll be in – but before that, forget it. It’s not… it’s a show, that’s it.
Q: (István Simon – Auto Magazin) Question to Kimi. Had President Marchionne not been here today, would you have tried a proper overtaking manoeuvre against Sebastian? Because you’re car has been obviously faster today…
KR: No, it makes no difference. Obviously we know as team-mates what we have to do and like I said, I had a pretty good run into the first corner on the first lap but being team-mates… we can fight but we probably leave a bit more space and not going to force the issue as maybe against somebody else. At the end it was obviously for a one-two and I can only look what I did yesterday and complain to myself I was not in a very good chance to win the race – but nevertheless my car was good and, as I said, we had a plan as a team and, y’know, it was a fair game. Seb was yesterday first and he got away first and obviously the aim was whichever way we finish we’re going to finish one-two. That’s the aim. No difference would the president be here or not. To be honest I haven’t seen him – apart from podium. Haven’t had time so far today…
Q: (Ysef Harding – Xiro Xone News) This is for Kimi and Valtteri: after speaking with a number of Finnish fans last night who were very passionate about you guys, and finding out that saunas are a thing in Finland, they asked me to ask you guys what you plan to do for the break and how will you celebrate being on the podium today?
KR: Obviously we have the test on Wednesday so from that point there’s not an awful lot of plans. The biggest plan is to be with the family; obviously we have some time and spend time with them. We have to travel an awful lot so it’s great to have some freedom now.
Q: (Luis Vasconcelos – Formula Press) We are in a unique situation in which the three podium finishers don’t have a contract for next year as far as we know. Is this going to be a priority for the next four weeks or are you happy to sort it out later in the season?
KR: No different than any year. It’s not really my decision. For the team knows what is my preferred option and then see what happens.
Q: Kimi, you have a great record at Spa; do you think Ferrari can challenge Mercedes there?
KR: For sure there are some circuits that fit us better because there are areas that we have to improve, probably especially for qualifying, the Mercedes has better horsepower but it depends on so many things. It’s not just purely that you look at the layout of the circuit – ah this is going to be good for us and this is going to be… The tyres… We can’t have it which conditions there are going to be and a lot of small things which will make a difference. Let’s have a holiday first and see what happens at Spa but obviously if you purely look now, you would say it’s not going to be as easy for us as here but obviously we try to improve and we are going to do our best.
Q: (Zsolt Godina – F1vilag) Kimi, do you feel that you could have done a better job with the strategy with the pit stop with a possible longer first stint to win this race?
KR: I wondered it but obviously I had no idea what was happening behind us when Mercedes stopped before us and then Valtteri went a lot faster with the fresh tyres so the team asked me to come in. I had good speed on the in lap so I wanted to stay longer but I have to trust what the team is telling me and obviously they see the big picture so… We got close but it’s OK.