Sebastian Vettel took the blame for what proved to be a catastrophic move onto slick tyres in damp conditions at the Turkish Grand Prix.
Having been in contention for the lower reaches of the points, Vettel was the only driver to take a punt on running dry tyres in the race, but his struggles proved there was a reason why others hadn’t taken the gamble.
Given that he was contesting the minor placings in the top 10, the four-time World Champion was in communication with his team and decided that “these inters can’t be any worse [than slicks]” when his first set had worn down, but the choice backfired in the end.
Vettel said when asked whose decision it was to switch to slicks: “Well, together [with the team], but in the end I made the decision, I wanted to try it.
“On the inters there was nothing left, I thought the drys could be as good, but I couldn’t break them in and just had no grip, lost so much time, couldn’t make them work.
“It was worse than I expected. Even if it was damp a little bit still here and there, or wet – as I said, the main thing is I couldn’t break the tyre in and then you’re just sliding.”
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The majority of the field opted to stop for fresh intermediates in the race (apart from Esteban Ocon, who completed the entire race on the same set of tyres), but the German felt he was unable to take advantage of the pace he had underneath him in his Aston Martin – as he eventually finished in a lowly P18.
“Without that [stop], I think the last stint was very strong but we were so far back that it didn’t matter,” said Vettel, quoted by The Race.
“The first stint was a problem, I just couldn’t keep the pace up and struggled a lot with the tyres early on, whereas in the final stint it was a lot better.
“It’s a no-brainer now [that the slicks call was wrong]. At the time, I don’t know, I was tempted already some laps before, the inters weren’t getting any better.
“If you look at the inter tyres, there’s nothing left on them, they look like a slick. I think I had reason but obviously it was the wrong decision.”
Winners and losers from the Turkish Grand Prix
Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen will be pleased with their races, but even after rising through the field, Lewis Hamilton was one of the big losers in the Turkish Grand Prix.