Sebastian Vettel says he was not aware that Ferrari had opted to change the race strategy of Charles Leclerc during the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya, where the Scuderia were once again dominated by Mercedes who finished with a one-two.
On two occasions a Ferrari driver in behind appeared to be enjoying more pace than the team-mate in front, which meant Vettel and Leclerc swapped positions to allow the other to pass. However, this came with confusion as team radio confirmed that they were on different strategies when the German believed it was the same.
“We talk about it internally,” Vettel said after the race.
“Inside the car we try to do our own race. I think in the beginning it was clear that Charles was faster so I was happy to let him go, in the second stint I wasn't aware we were on different strategies for a long time but once it was clear, I was let go and I was a lot faster and tried to put pressure on Max, but in the end it didn't really matter.”
After a collision between Lance Stroll and Lando Norris which forced both drivers into retirement, a lengthy safety car period was introduced which allowed the pack to squeeze tigher. It presented Vettel with the opportunity to try and attack Max Verstappen, but he admits it wasn’t possible as his Ferrari was operating at the same speed as the Red Bull of the Dutchman.
“I was struggling to see stuff and I was also slow and I was compromised in my first time," he confessed.
"Afterwards my pace was fine but from there it was difficult, the safety car gave us a chance but we were the same pace as Max so it was almost impossible to pass.”
Vettel is yet to finish in the top two in a race this season, and is 48 points adrift of the driver’s championship leader, Lewis Hamilton.