SILVERSTONE, U.K. — Sebastian Vettel says the element of surprise was key to the move which helped him snatch the lead of the British Grand Prix from Valtteri Bottas.
Having grabbed the lead at the start of race, two late Safety Car periods had left Vettel behind the Mercedes driver but with a tyre advantage. After several laps of stern defence from Bottas, Vettel finally made a move which stuck by diving down the inside at Brooklands and out-braking the Finn.
It turned out to be the winning move: Bottas’ dropped down the order late on as his tyres fell away, allowing Vettel to ease to the chequered flag. Explaining the move immediately after the race, he said: “I was able to surprise him, I think he thought that I wouldn’t dare [to go down] the inside and the braking zone was coming quite fast.”
In the post-race press conference which followed, he elaborated further on how he made the move stick.
“No, you sort of imagine going into the end of the straight,” Vettel said. “I had a good exit. I would have liked to be closer, but I wasn’t. It was still good enough to have a shot, so I gave it everything. I tried also around the outside of Turn 4, he was quite late on the brakes and so was I.
“I couldn’t really go anywhere, so I thought ‘I can’t do that again’, and the fact that I think I was a bit further back and we were close to the braking zone, he was covering the inside, and then still gave me a little bit of room and that’s what I used to make the move happen. Obviously once I was on the inside and I had clean air, it was great. I could make the corner.
“I wanted to win, and I had to go for it. Obviously I struggled a little bit more towards the end with the tyres, but I wanted to get by as soon as possible. That was the key.”
The win helped Vettel increase his championship lead over Lewis Hamilton, who recovered from an opening-lap collision with Kimi Raikkonen to finish second. Vettel is now eight points clear of the Mercedes driver.