Sebastian Vettel says after the race in Singapore that ‘it was about time’ to win his first win in over a year, and despite the difficult times of recent weeks, he says he has never stopped believing in himself.
The four-time world champion in the last few races was in the shadow of his team-mate Leclercis, who has beaten him in the last eight qualifying sessions and in the two races before Singapore he has achieved two pole positions and two victories.
Although Leclerc secured a pole position for the third consecutive race thanks to a spectacular lap at the very edge, Vettel was the first to reach the finish line as strategic circumstances went into his favour with a fantastic outlap that took more than three seconds off his teammate advantage.
“After yesterday, when I wasn’t able to get everything out of the car, I am pleased with the way everything went today,” said Vettel.
“It was about time!”
“The last few weeks have been far from simple for me, but in the end, I knew I could turn things around. I never stopped believing in myself and today, with the great help of the team here and in Maranello, we got the result we should always be aiming for.”
Because of the high degradation of soft Pirelli tyres and intention to stop only once, the drivers drove the first stint of the race slower than they could and no one dared to pull the trigger prematurely to avoid falling into traffic and extend the second stint on hards too much.
“I was playing a waiting game until I got the call on the radio to pit for new tyres. I had not expected to stay out so long but the decision was key, because I was able to rejoin with a clear track ahead of me and I could run at my own pace making up ground on all the others, to the extent that I was in the lead by almost five seconds at the time the Safety Car came out.”
“From then on, the race was continually interrupted, with a further two restarts, but I still managed to maintain concentration and avoid making any mistakes.”
Ferrari has won the last three races, the first time since 2008 when they celebrated in four consecutive races (Malaysia, Bahrain, Spain and Turkey), and wins on tracks with extremely low and extremely high downforce demands suggest that they can be competitive on all six remaining tracks.
“It’s too early to say if this win means we can be competitive on all the coming tracks,” he said.
“Here, whoever is in front sets the pace, almost like in Monaco and on used tyres, Hamilton seemed stronger than us, which means we still have work to do when it comes to our race pace.”
Ferrari surprised both themselves and rivals with incredible speed in Singapore, where they brought a big upgrade package that was retained on both cars for the rest of the weekend after back to back tests on Friday.
An incredible upturn in form, in the same year that they were far from Mercedes and Red Bull in both Monaco and Hungary, highlighted the effectiveness of the latest improvements, which is in stark contrast to the same race in 2018 when they went wrong way with development and only won in Austin when they got rid of the new parts.
“Certainly the upgrades we brought here worked well and made us competitive, which means we are working in the right direction.”