Sebastian Vettel says Mercedes 'got lucky' with Mexican GP strategy but had more speed
Vettel feels Ferrari could not gamble on strategy from race-leading position like Mercedes could in Mexico
Last Updated: 27/10/19 11:22pm
Sebastian Vettel felt Mercedes "got lucky" with their strategy but conceded they were faster after Lewis Hamilton claimed victory at the Mexican GP.
Ferrari had locked out the front row after Max Verstappen was handed a grid penalty, but Vettel finished second after Hamilton nursed his second-stint tyres for 47 laps, while pole-sitter Leclerc was fourth after a two-stop strategy hindered by a slow second stop.
Vettel felt Mercedes had been "brave" pitting Hamilton 14 laps earlier than him and not coming in again, but said Ferrari did not have the race pace to truly hunt the Briton for victory once behind.
"If you start on the front row you are fighting for victory. In the end, we sort of did, but not quite enough," Vettel told Sky Sports F1.
"Ultimately, if you are fair, we didn't have the speed really to force the victory despite the strategy. With hindsight you are always a bit smarter, Lewis obviously had nothing to lose so he might as well try and it worked for him.
"We expected the tyres to hit a cliff sort of, but for him it was fine - he had significantly more laps on it and I think seeing that Valterri stayed out so long was confirmation that for them it was a huge risk. There are these days that it pays off but certainly it was not all knowledge.
"We didn't get beaten really in strategy terms. They won, got a bit lucky and they just had a bit more speed.
"We are taking risks, but there is no point being stupid. At that point of the race, fitting the hard tyre without stopping again I think was a brave move. It could have gone either way. They had the two stop as their preferred strategy - if you are in that position, you might as well try; finishing third or fifth in the end is not a big difference but if it allows you jump to first, then you are the winner, so you give it a go."
Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto felt the team could not gamble in the way Mercedes had, but conceded their mistake had not been considering the one-stop as an option.
He told Sky Sports F1: "I think what we did was right, but now looking back at the race I think our mistake was not to consider the one stop possible or such an early one stop.
"But that's the sort of gamble you can do when you are behind, it's not the type of gamble you will do when you're ahead.
"They did the right choice, difficult for us to defend, and then tyres overheating when you are trying to follow and attack makes things more difficult.
"To stop so early on one stop was the right choice for them. And Lewis has been very good, on the pace right at that time, being close to Seb so being in the window for the undercut. He made it right."
Leclerc: I must be more decisive to help team
Leclerc had inherited pole from Verstappen but pitted early to cover off Red Bull's Alex Albon, who was the first of the front runners to stop.
The Monegasque struggled on his second set of medium tyres and then a problem with the right rear when he pitted a second time for hard tyres cost him four seconds which left him too far back.
Leclerc has claimed his first two F1 victories this season, but admitted he still has more to learn on race days, particularly when it comes to being decisive on the team radio.
"Once we did the first stop pretty early to cover the position from Albon then we knew it was going to be a two-stop race and all the others went for a one stop so then it was very difficult.
"I believe we wanted to cover from Albon especially, mostly to cover overheating which is a big issue here. We wanted to have track position and not be behind. I believe at that point of the race we believed it would be a two-stop race, but it didn't happen.
"I still need to do some work, in the race especially. It's a tendency the last few weekends and today, ok the strategy has not been good, but I probably should have come on the radio and ask for something and be more decisive in the decision to try and help the team make the right decision on my side like Seb did.
"I need to learn from that and hopefully it will come with time."