Sebastian Vettel claimed a surprise second place finish in Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix after cashing in on Mercedes’ decision to pit race leader Lewis Hamilton in a late safety car period.
Hamilton had been leading the race by 19 seconds before an accident between Max Verstappen and Romain Grosjean prompted a safety car period with 14 laps remaining.
Mercedes believed that Hamilton’s lead was big enough to allow him to pit for a fresh set of super-soft tires whilst remaining in first place, only for him to emerge back on track in third behind eventual winner Nico Rosberg and Vettel.
Vettel admitted afterwards that he was surprised to pick up another position late on after spending the majority of the race stuck behind Rosberg in third place.
“Obviously a bit of a turn around at the end which was a bit of a surprise, but we were there in the moment when it mattered,” Vettel said.
“We were able just to pip Lewis when he came out of the pits. I think it was very close but I was pretty confident I was ahead. I think we tried all race to put pressure on Nico, but I think he had the speed to respond.”
Vettel had tried to jump Rosberg during the solitary round of pit stops by coming in slightly earlier than planned, but was too far back to use the undercut and get past the Mercedes driver.
However, the German driver remained pleased with the result and the pace that Ferrari showed on race day in Monaco.
“When we decided to pit I think we were a bit too far back, so the undercut didn’t really work,” Vettel said. “Nevertheless, P2 is really great, great for the team, thanks for the hard work.
“It’s good to be there, and I think we were a lot closer in the race than in qualifying, so hopefully we can keep up this trend.”