MELBOURNE: Sebastian Vettel said Ferrari’s aggressive strategy on tires probably went against him as he relinquished the lead to Nico Rosberg in Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix.
The four-time world champion, who was leading at the time, elected to stay on supersoft tires after the race was stopped on the 18th lap following Fernando Alonso’s horror shunt.
During the stoppage, Mercedes rival Rosberg switched to medium tires while Ferrari decided to keep Vettel on the supersofts.
The move meant Vettel had to come into the pits again while Rosberg made it to the finish with his set of tires to complete an eight-second victory over Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
“We went for the aggressive route,” said Vettel after finishing in third. “Maybe with hindsight we could have done something else, but I don’t want to blame anyone. It’s a shame the other car [Kimi Raikkonen] didn’t make it but it is positive.”
Vettel said Ferrari was much closer to Mercedes this year after finishing a distant second last season.
“Definitely we were a lot closer than last year,” he said. “This was one of our worse tracks. We expected to be stronger in qualifying, that wasn’t the case as we had a bit of a rough session.”
“Today was a lot better for us,” he added.
Raikkonen retired from the race with an engine problem and his Ferrari had flames coming out of the air box of his car when he came into the pits.
The Finn appeared unflustered while a marshal extinguished the fire above his head as he exited the cockpit to retire.