Vettel on overtaking award: We backfired too often

Date published: December 13 2021 - Michelle Foster

Sebastian Vettel chasing Latifi and Giovinazzi. Abu Dhabi December 2021

Sebastian Vettel won the inaugural overtaking award but he feels that’s not necessarily a good thing as it means he’s been too far back in qualifying “too often”.

This season, for the first time ever, Formula 1 handed out an overtaking award which Vettel claimed ahead of Fernando Alonso.

But that’s all good and well, the Aston Martin driver concedes it means he started races too far back and therefore had cars to overtake.

“We backfired too often,” he said.

“We made up positions [in the races] and that was entertaining, but not so fun in terms of results.”

Vettel had said in the past that he’d rather have no overtakes and lead from lights to flag.

Vettel failed to score in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, crossing the line in 11th place.

That meant he was 12th in the Drivers’ standings on 43 points, nine ahead of his team-mate Lance Stroll.

“I think we had some decent pace,” he said of his Sunday at the Yas Marina circuit, “but we were unfortunately stuck behind the Alfa Romeo of [Antonio] Giovinazzi for too long and that cost us too much time.

“When we were in clear air, the pace was good, but there was only so much we could do.

“The Safety Car situation at the end may have been unprecedented and we were just unable to end the season with points and finished P11.”

The race ended in controversial fashion at the front when the Safety Car pitted with one lap to go, Race Control allowing some but not all the lapped cars to unlap themselves.

It set the race up for a one-lap decider, one lap that also decided the World Champion.

It went to Max Verstappen as the Red Bull driver pulled off a late pass on Lewis Hamilton, it was Verstappen’s first World Championship title and Red Bull’s first since Vettel’s 2013 success.

Asked if he was aware of what was going on at the front, Vettel replied: “Not so much.

“I only saw the Dutch [fans] jumping on the last lap. Then I knew that Max was overtaking.

“I didn’t know which tyres Lewis would start on after the restart, but I think he didn’t have a lot of chances.”

As for who he wanted to win, he said: “Both deserved it, after the season and after the race.

 

“I think it was a bit of a lottery in the end, especially with the Safety Car. As I said both had a very, very strong season. Congratulations to both Lewis and Max. ”