The four-time World Champion jumped up nine places from his grid slot in an enthralling race, which saw leader Max Verstappen have a dramatic tyre failure six laps from the finish.
Lewis Hamilton missed the opportunity to capitalise on Verstappen’s misfortunes by locking up after the race restarted following the Dutchman’s retirement, with Vettel taking advantage of every opportunity to take his place on the podium behind Sergio Perez after the chequered flag dropped.
With Vettel taking his first podium with his new team, the German reflected on his best Grand Prix weekend for a long time.
“I think this means a great deal [to the team],” Vettel told Paul di Resta in the immediate aftermath of the race. “Obviously, it’s been a tough start for us and I think it was a great race.
“We had good pace, that was the key. I had a good start, made some positions for us straight away and looked after my tyres as soon as everybody went to the pits.
“I had really good pace to overcut Yuki [Tsunoda] at least, then the restart worked brilliantly for me – I got another two positions there.
“We obviously had fresher tyres, which I guess helped with warming up the tyres later on.
“Great day. I’m over the moon for the team, it’s great. Obviously, a podium – we didn’t expect that when we came here.
“But already on Friday, even though we were nowhere it felt good. I was quite relaxed and yesterday, we didn’t quite get it but today, it was even sweeter.”
— Planet F1 (@Planet_F1) June 6, 2021
Vettel had been frustrated to miss out on Q3 by three-hundredths of a second on Saturday, but in doing so he kept a fresh set of soft tyres – which he was ultimately able to utilise in the mad two-lap dash to the finish after the race restarted.
The German had also extended his first stint to give him the opportunity to have flexibility in his strategy, which he said was one of the main reasons behind his strong race pace.
“Strategy-wise, it’s always better to start further up but the new tyres for sure didn’t hurt, because other people already had laps on theirs from qualifying,” he added.
“It helped us to go longer but we really preserved the tyres well, and I think that was the secret – plus the pace that we had in the race.
“As I said, the car felt good and it was the key to keep progressing and shifting forwards.”