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Vettel: I got lucky with Verstappen

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Vettel: I got lucky with Verstappen
By:
Mar 26, 2017, 11:40 AM

Sebastian Vettel admitted he got a "bit lucky" with traffic in the Australian Grand Prix, after Max Verstappen held up rival Lewis Hamilton.

Race winner Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H
Press conference: winner Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, second place Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08, leads Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 W08, Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF70H, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB13, and Felipe Massa, Williams FW40, at the start
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08

Vettel ran close behind Hamilton in the opening stint of the Melbourne race and took the lead by running longer than the British driver.

Hamilton pitted on lap 17 and lost time behind Max Verstappen's Red Bull when he emerged, with Vettel staying out for six more laps.

Vettel emerged just in front of the pair, rebuffed a Verstappen attack into Turn 3 and built a lead of six seconds by the time Verstappen pitted two laps later and released Hamilton.

"I was struggling to keep up, but still hanging in there," Vettel said of his first stint. "I knew I needed to be right behind him.

"Once it was clear that he went in, there was no point to follow. We stayed out, the tyres were still holding on and the pace looked alright.

"It was very tight. I knew that Max would probably try something but I just kept in front.

"That was obviously crucial for our race, I tried to push for as hard as I could for the one or two Max was still out to open a bit of a gap and control the race. 

"We got a bit lucky with him facing some traffic but equally we pushed him to the pits, he had a big lead, to stay out and control the race. We did a very good race, very happy."

Vettel enjoys "raw" race

Hamilton's lead in the opening stint was never more than two seconds and Vettel had moved to within DRS range when the British driver came into the pits.

Vettel said he enjoyed being able to push throughout the opening stint, despite doing 23 laps on ultra-soft tyres.

"It was very pleasant," he said. "A different race to last year, where you had to manage a lot. Now I think it was a bit more raw, especially the beginning. Even if it wasn't a wheel-to-wheel fight I could see Lewis was pushing really hard.

"It was nice that we could just push and race to the first stop."

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