German GP: Was Sebastian Vettel pushing too hard when he crashed?
Did Hamilton's pace pressure title rival into race-ending mistake?
Last Updated: 23/07/18 12:58pm
Lewis Hamilton has declined to speculate if Sebastian Vettel was pressurised into his race-costing mistake at the German GP, but was the Ferrari driver pushing too hard when he crashed?
Vettel was leading by nine seconds when he hit the barriers at the Sachskurve corner.
But despite the size of his advantage, and the slippery conditions after a mid-race downpour, Vettel's pace had been rapid just prior to his accident on Lap 51.
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"He had a gap, he could have gone a bit slower and taken it a bit more easy," observed Nico Rosberg, the former world champion, speaking to Sky Sports F1.
Between laps 44 and 48, Vettel had extended his advantage over Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, running in second place, by four seconds.
He then hit traffic on laps 49 and 50 before crashing on lap 51.
Was Vettel pushing too hard?
|43||1:31.116 [out lap]||1:18.262||1:17.681|
|51||1:29.258 [Safety Car]||1:33.961 [Safety Car]||Crashed|
"I braked just a tiny bit too late for the corner, locked the front tyres and then the rear ones," Vettel said afterwards.
But why was Vettel pushing so hard?
"That's the one corner where there is no margin for error," added Rosberg. "In that corner you've got to take even more reserves, and he didn't. He went over the edge."
One possibility is that Vettel was aware of Hamilton's field-leading pace after the Mercedes driver had bolted on ultrasoft tyres on Lap 44. Prior to Vettel's accident, Hamilton was consistently two-seconds-a lap faster than the Ferrari.
But no radio messages from the Ferrari pitwall warning Vettel as to Hamilton's pace were broadcast to support that theory.
In any case, Hamilton was only fourth, 10 seconds behind, when Vettel crashed with both Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas still between the two title rivals.
Asked if he thought his pace may have been a contributing factor in Vettel's crash, Hamilton said: "It would be really hard for me to answer that. I haven't heard his radio calls and stuff, so the only way that could be possible is if they've said 'Lewis is this far behind'. So I couldn't tell you.
"Ultimately the pressure was huge on all of us, particularly in the tricky conditions."
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