Vettel had tire concerns during race


Sebastian Vettel swept all before him to win his eighth race in a row but it wasn’t all plain sailing for the Red Bull driver.

Concern about the rate his tires were wearing led Red Bull to bring him into the pits earlier than several of his rivals for his sole pit stop of the race.

“The last couple of laps on the softs I was struggling because I running into traffic and the tires were falling off,” Vettel explained, “so we were actually the first to come in this time, despite the big gap.”

“But then the hards seem to last very, very well in the end. We had very strong pace.”

Vettel had a lead of almost ten seconds after his first pit stop so he could afford to take it easy in the closing stages.

“I think I went a little bit wide once or twice into turn 12 under braking but other than that, I obviously tried as well to keep it on the line,” he said. “It is a little bit easier if you have a ten second gap to the car behind to not necessarily use all the curbs here and there, to manage the tires a little bit better.”

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.