Vettel rues Bottas’ poor start: I had nowhere to go

Date published: November 22 2021 - Michelle Foster

Sebastian Vettel at the start of the race. Qatar November 2021

Bagging just one point at the Qatar Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel says he was bogged down by Valtteri Bottas at the start.

Vettel lined up tenth on the Losail grid with his team-mate Lance Stroll in P12.

57 laps later though, it was the Canadian who had made the most progress, racing his way to sixth place while Vettel scored the last point available.

He wasn’t happy with that.

“We could have scored more points today,” he told the German edition of Motorsport.com.

Vettel seemed to make a good start only to have to brake almost immediately as he came up behind Bottas, the Mercedes driver starting P6 after he was hit with a three-place grid penalty for not slowing for waved yellow flags in qualifying.

The Finn made an awful start, immediately lost positions and, with Vettel coming up behind him, that meant the Aston Martin driver was also slowed.

“I had nowhere to go,” said Vettel. “The cars in front of me could pass him, and I was the first in line who then had to get off the accelerator.

“I lost the rear end and had to open the steering, otherwise I would have spun.

“And then actually all the cars were through.”

Vettel dropped to 17th place and spent his Sunday evening slowly but surely working his way back into the top ten.

“I was practically at the very back,” he continued.

“So we tried to stay outside as long as possible, and when we noticed that we could drive almost half of the time on the soft tyre, the one-stop was the logical consequence.”

Vettel drove the first 26 laps on the soft tyres and then switched to the mediums for the rest of the grand prix.

But while the likes of Bottas and both Williams driver suffered punctures as they attempted one-stop strategies, Vettel found the Pirellis worked well for him.

“It was fun,” he said.

“It was one of those races where the tyres held up really well and you could push. That I was so far behind at the end of the first lap was less encouraging.”

Vettel remained P12 in the Drivers’ Championship, up to 43 points, while Stroll is P13 with 34 points.