Sebastian Vettel believes George Russell was deserving of finally breaking his points duck in Formula 1 after witnessing his Tuscan Grand Prix drive up close.
Russell was running a comfortable ninth when the race at Mugello was red-flagged for the second time with 14 laps remaining after Lance Stroll sustained a puncture that sent him hurtling into a barrier.
The Williams driver then suffered a slow getaway at the restart and despite a brave effort to battle his way back into the top 10, with Ferrari's Vettel directly ahead of him, Russell had to settle for an agonising 11th.
"I felt a bit sorry to be honest for him because I think he drove really well, especially before the last restart he was faster than us, he was more consistent," said Vettel, speaking to Ziggo Sport.
"He managed his race well, I could see what he was doing. It will come for him but... poor soul! I think he really deserved the point today."
Jokingly, Vettel added: "Obviously if I had let him by on the last lap, because I think he fought harder than anyone else today then, you see the cord there [pointing during the interview] I am probably hung!"
Vettel added: "I feel a bit sorry for him because he really fought his way up to the points and didn't get the result that he deserved."
Responding to the video clip, a grateful Russell acknowledged Vettel's words via his Twitter account as he said: Appreciate it Seb."
Vettel had to settle for 10th on the occasion of Ferrari's 1,000th grand prix, while team-mate Charles Leclerc was eighth, and left to lament again the pace of his car that had the Scuderia switching to plan C at one point as he slipped through the field.
“We were just slow,” said Leclerc. “There’s not much more to add to that.
"I did a good start, put myself, I think, in the best position possible behind the two Mercedes that were going away, so I had free air but just struggling so much with the car.
“We need to work, honestly, and try to understand because some races we are not very competitive in quali, and then we are better in the race, which I think was the case at the beginning of the season.
"Now we seem to have done quite a good job yesterday in quali but struggling massively with the car in the race, so it’s a difficult moment.”
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