Raikkonen was faster, admits triumphant Vettel
FERRARI headed into the August Formula One break with a onetwo victory in Hungary yesterday, but race winner and championship leader Sebastian Vettel recognised that teammate Kimi Raikkonen had been faster.
The German’s fourth win of the season put him 14 points clear of Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton, who could have been on the podium, but instead ceded third place back to Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas in an act of sportsmanship.
Vettel was suffering with steering problems and had to stay off the kerbs, but there was never any suggestion that he might let Raikkonen, who was in danger of being caught by Hamilton, go through.
“I didn’t do a favour to Kimi, who obviously could go faster. I didn’t have the pace,” the German said. Vettel explained that the steering wheel had begun to go sideways from early on, forcing him to focus on keeping the car steady.
“Towards the end it did come back a bit. I had a couple of laps where I had a bit of a cushion and I could breathe a bit. But, yeah, I really had to stay focused the whole race,” he added.
“It was a weird feeling because basically it was tilted to the left, so you go down the straights and the steering isn’t straight, and then in righthanders it’s sort of okay.”
Raikkonen still celebrated his eighth podium in Hungary, even if six have been second places at what is almost a home race for the Finn with plenty of compatriots in evidence.
But he recognised he might have hoped for more at a circuit where overtaking was difficult.
The top five all finished in their grid positions.
“The other guy has to make quite a big mistake or have some issue. It’s not easy to overtake and especially with teammates, you take more care. But at least they (Ferrari) are still happy – that’s the main thing,” said Raikkonen.
“Seb was yesterday first (in qualifying) and he got away first and obviously the aim was whichever way we finish we’re going to finish one-two.”
Meanwhile, Mercedes recognised that the act of sporting sacrifice in Hungary could cost Hamilton a fourth Formula One title, but said it was a price they were prepared to pay. “It cost us three points and potentially the championship and we are perfectly conscious about that,” team boss Toto Wolff said after Hamilton slowed on the final lap to let teammate Bottas take third place as part of an earlier agreement.
“Nevertheless, this is how the drivers and team operate,” added the Austrian, whose team have won the past three drivers’ and constructors’ championships.
“We stick to what we say and if the consequences are as much as losing the championship, we take it.
“But long term, we will be winning much more races and championships with that approach than doing it the other way around.”
Bottas had agreed to let the faster Hamilton through to chase the leading Ferraris, on the understanding that the positions would be reversed again if unsuccessful.
The Briton duly kept his word, even if others might not have done with so much at stake, and fell 14 points behind Ferrari’s championship leader and race winner Vettel. – Reuters
TEAMWORK: Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, right, celebrates on the podium alongside second-placed teammate Kimi Raikkonen after winning the Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring in Mogyorod.