Sebastian Vettel says he "had to try" to pass Valtteri Bottas in the closing stages of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, even though it cost him a podium finish.
The Ferrari driver – who led the race comfortably until a safety car period allowed Bottas’s Mercedes to make a pitstop and emerge still ahead – locked up trying to retake the lead on a restart with four laps to go, ultimately dropping to fourth.
“I’m happy that I tried, I’m not happy that it didn’t work, but I have to try,” said Vettel.
“I don’t think it was overly optimistic to jump down the inside. I wasn’t overly late, otherwise I don’t make the corner at all, but I did make it, just.
“I didn’t have any option – Lewis [Hamilton] was on the right so I can’t close on him. Valtteri was ahead of me, he left a gap. I was surprised, judging the braking was very difficult.
“I was a bit trapped because I couldn’t see where I was relative to Turn 1. We have our references, and they are on the right – a kerb, the signs on the wall, and on the left there is hardly any reference.
“I had a decent restart, I saw the gap on the inside, and unfortunately I locked up.
“Without the lock-up, braking at the same point, I think I make the corner and it turns out to be a good move.
“It’s easy to say it didn’t work, so it is the wrong thing, but I had to try. We can’t let one or two seconds from the race have a shame on all the race, because there are a lot of positives."
Vettel initially fell back from the top three cars after locking up, but he battled on with a flat-spotted tyre and tried to steal a podium finish from Sergio Perez at the end.
“With that flatspot, I tried to get back to the Force India,” he said. “First I had to reshuffle a little bit and understand what the car balance was like with that flatspot.
“[Force India] were quick on the straights, then [Perez] had a tow from the cars ahead, and I had not really a chance to try something. Bit of a shame.
“Other than that I think it was a strong race, and that’s how it goes sometimes.
“Without the safety car it would have been easier for us – there is probably 47 laps of positive and maybe one turn without a positive note. It’s part of the game.”
Additional reporting by Edd Straw