Vettel early pit-stop strategy undone by Virtual Safety Car

Sam Cooper
Sebastian Vettel turns a corner. Montreal, June 2022.

Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel turns round a corner during the Canadian Grand Prix. Montreal, June 2022.

Sebastian Vettel saw his strategy go up in smoke when a pair of Virtual Safety Car deployments meant those around him were given a free pit stop.

The German pitted early with the idea of getting out into some clean air and relying on the kind of pace the car had shown during the practice sessions leading up to the race.

This instead backfired dramatically as those around Vettel were effectively given a free pit stop following the deployment of the Virtual Safety Car.

The four-time World Champion would go on to pit again soon after with another Virtual Safety Car but he was then forced to do a long stint on the same tyres having failed to gain any earlier advantage.

Speaking after the race, Vettel explained the early stop had been part of the team’s plans rather than done out of necessity but that it did not come off when the Virtual Safety Car came out at the wrong time.

“It just was not our day,” the Aston Martin driver said. “We made an early stop to find some clear air, but then the Virtual Safety Cars came along at the wrong time. That really compromised my race.

“At the end, I was on very old rubber and I tried to hang on, but it did not work out. Lance [Stroll] was on fresher tyres, and the team asked me to let him past to attack Daniel [Ricciardo], which I was happy to do.

“The result was frustrating – we had shown good pace this weekend and could have had a better result, but sometimes things do not go your way. Today felt like one of those days. Well done to the team for all their hard work and to Lance for scoring a point today.”

Stroll rose from P17 to 10th to score his first point since Miami and equal his best finish for the season. After the race, team boss Mick Krack praised Stroll but also rued the Virtual Safety Car which compromised Vettel’s race.

“On paper, 10th position for Lance feels like scant reward for a long, hard weekend and a race that was tricky to manage from start to finish. But that point does not tell the whole story: Lance drove patiently, managing an extremely long first stint on the hard tyre to keep a train of cars behind him.

“He was unleashed at the end and deserved that final point – helped in part by Sebastian, who graciously moved aside to let him attack Daniel.

“Sebastian also drove a fine, measured race. Starting towards the back stacks things against you, and his strategy was not helped by the pair of VSCs in the early laps, but, ultimately, I think we worked well as a team today. We got the best out of a tricky set of strategic options, executed some solid pit-stops and we go home encouraged by the burgeoning pace of our car.”