• Belgian Grand Prix

Vettel admits to tyre concerns

ESPNF1 Staff
August 28, 2011 « Third 'reasonable' for battling Button | »
Sebastian Vettel led home a Red Bull one-two © Getty Images
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Sebastian Vettel admitted he was more concerned with his tyres than winning the race at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix.

Pole-sitter Vettel had blistered tyres following qualifying on Saturday, with regulations dictating that he must start the race on the same set. Red Bull asked for special dispensation to change tyres or adjust the camber of the front wheels, but the FIA rejected the request leaving the team with the decision of whether to make changes and start from the pit lane or start the race on the damaged rubber.

Having taken the decision to start the race, Vettel said he wasn't confident that the tyres would last, and was focussing on finishing the grand prix rather than fighting for victory.

"We had a lot of concerns going in to the race after the damage we had on the tyres from qualifying," Vettel said. "So we weren't quite sure and actually we took quite a lot of risk. We had reason to be confident that it should be fine but you never really know, and there was nobody walking up and down in the paddock giving you a guarantee. So we didn't feel too comfortable and both of us stopped fairly early right at the beginning of the race, and the main target was to see how the tyres feel after a couple of laps and go from there really.

"We were not thinking too much about the outcome but surprisingly the pace was very good in the race, I was feeling very comfortable in the car and without too much effort in the beginning I was able to keep up with the guys and get back in to the lead. So half way through the race then after the safety car it was crucial to get back in to the lead, jump Fernarndo fast and build a gap, which obviously made it more comfortable towards the end of the race."

Vettel said that having managed to look after the tyres throughout the 44-laps, it had given the team further information for future races.

"It was more management than usual, but I have to say that the car was brilliant and I think compared to previous years we were very competitive, so I am very happy with the result and very happy with the race; how we managed the tyres in particular. So I think we need to learn from that and head down to the next race."

Having made his second pit stop under the safety car, Vettel said it had helped him slightly, but that the race was won on pure performance.

"Yes and no. I mean obviously we could get the stop and not lose too much time but on the other hand I was six or seven seconds in the lead at the time so we lost the lead and lost that gap we had. So I don't think it made a big difference in the end, fortunately with the new regulations we have there's very few possibilities that someone really gains a big advantage."

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