Sebastian Vettel reckons he helped Lewis Hamilton set up the victory in Spain on Sunday as he “distracted” Valtteri Bottas at the first corner.
Starting third behind Bottas and Hamilton, Vettel made a flying start to the Barcelona race and was up with the Mercedes pairing heading into the first corner.
However, Vettel went in a bit too hot and was forced to brake hard, flat spotting his front right tyre.
But while his antics cost him pace in the opening stint, it also cost Bottas as instead of challenging Hamilton, he had to fend off Vettel while both did their best to avoid a collision.
“I wanted to brake latest – which I think I did,” the Ferrari driver explained to Autosport.
“Obviously Valtteri was also quite late and I could not really get in, and I couldn’t see him so I knew he was there.
“I saw that he was also braking quite late and if I just turned in, which I think I could have managed, then he would have had nowhere to go and I would go the other way. It didn’t work.
“In the end, obviously I did Lewis a favour because I distracted Valtteri.
“It was clear that I couldn’t win the race at the first corner but I saw there was something to try.
“I tried and it didn’t work, but I was hoping I could maybe mix things up a little bit for my sake and your sake!”
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The flat spot in the opening stint meant Vettel in turn also lost out to Charles Leclerc as Ferrari handed down orders for the German to move over for his team-mate.
That was turned around in the second stint when Vettel was put on the medium tyres to Leclerc’s hard and therefore had the better pace.
In the end, Ferrari finished fourth and fifth with Vettel ahead.
“Obviously my race was a bit compromised the first stint,” he said.
“We didn’t have many laps where I could go the pace of the car.
“I think we would have been strong in the first stint with the soft tyre.
“Charles had a good stint but on my side I had a flatspot to manage, so lost quite a lot.
“But certainly once I was in free air I felt quite good and the pace was quite strong, also in comparison with Max [Verstappen].”