Vettel did Hamilton "a favour" with first-corner move

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Vettel did Hamilton "a favour" with first-corner move
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May 12, 2019, 6:29 PM

Sebastian Vettel thinks he did Lewis Hamilton "a favour" with his bid to go around the outside of Valtteri Bottas at the first corner of the Spanish Grand Prix.

With Mercedes in a class of its own at Barcelona, Vettel knew that the only chance he had to take the fight to the German car manufacturer was by trying to do something special at the start.

The German picked up a good slipstream off Bottas on the run away from the line and tried to go around the outside of both Mercedes drivers at Turn 1 – but in the end braked slightly too late and locked his right front tyre.

More Barcelona reaction:

While the lock-up led to a flat spot that ruined his opening stint, Vettel thinks the risk of trying to do something sensational at Turn 1 was worth it.

And he has suggested that his move was a help for Hamilton because he distracted Bottas.

"I wanted to brake latest – which I think I did," said Vettel when asked by Motorsport.com about his first-corner effort. "Obviously Valtteri was also quite late and I could not really get in, and I couldn't see him so I knew he was there.

"I saw that he was also braking quite late and if I just turn in, which I think I could have managed, then he would have nowhere to go and I will go the other way. It didn't work.

"In the end, obviously I did Lewis a favour because I distracted Valtteri. It was clear that I couldn't win the race at the first corner but I saw there was something to try.

"I tried and it didn't work, but I was hoping I could maybe mix things up a little bit for my sake and your sake!"

Vettel's difficult first stint meant Vettel fell into the clutches of teammate Charles Leclerc before letting him through, although he is convinced he would have held on easily without his tyre problem.

"Obviously my race was a bit compromised the first stint," added Vettel. "We didn't have many laps where I could go the pace of the car.

"I think we would have been strong in the first stint with the soft tyre. I think Charles had a good stint but on my side I had a flat spot to manage, so lost quite a lot.

"But certainly once I was in free air I felt quite good and the pace was quite strong, also in comparison with Max.

"I think it is fair with the safety car anyway, it didn't matter, and it is fair what we saw after the safety car that we were more or less the same pace. So I think it would have been a very tight race if we had a normal race without the lock up in the first corner."

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