Monaco Grand Prix race winner Sebastian Vettel has denied that Ferrari’s race strategy was part of a pre-arranged plan to switch its cars around to benefit his Formula 1 title hopes.
Vettel jumped ahead of polesitter and race leader Kimi Raikkonen by staying out five laps longer during the only pitstop phase of the race, prompting suggestions that it was a predetermined strategy to swap the cars around.
When asked if the strategy was a result of team orders, which are not illegal in F1, Vettel said: “Not really, there was no plan on team orders.
“We spoke about the race before and it was clear – the lead normally gets priority, and if I had the choice to go first, that is normally what you want to do.
“This is one of those rare times where the ‘overcut’ [stopping after a rival] is positive.
“The rule of thumb, if you qualify ahead you get priority at the first stop. Today it worked out in my favour and I take it.”
Vettel said he could understand if Raikkonen – who said his result didn’t “count a lot” – wasn’t happy after the race.
“There is no reason to lie, I am very happy,” said Vettel. “But I can understand he is a bit more upset.
“For me [the strategy] meant staying ahead of Valtteri [Bottas] and close to Kimi – I was surprised when I came out ahead.
“It worked well to stay out longer today, but if you were looking at it before the race, you cannot predict. We are racing, we get on well. I can understand Kimi is not entirely happy today.
“He drove well in the first stint but then you get the message to go in, you do the stop and then you push.
“When I heard the lap times of Bottas, I felt I needed to stretch myself and I was surprised I could get so much pace from the car.”