Sebastian Vettel admitted that he surprised himself with his mid-race pace during Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix that proved instrumental in securing his third win of the 2017 Formula 1 season.
Vettel started second in Monaco and spent the first stint of the race trailing Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen, with the gap hovering at around one second before the pit stop phase.
Raikkonen was brought in earlier than Vettel by Ferrari, freeing the German to put in a sequence of quick laps in clean air while his teammate toiled with traffic.
Vettel was able to pit a few laps later and emerge ahead of Raikkonen, having overturned the deficit before pushing on to create a gap of almost 10 seconds.
“I think it was a very, very intense race. I was hoping at the start to have a bit of a better launch, but Kimi had a good start, I had nowhere to go,” Vettel said.
“I had to be patient. There was a phase in the first stint where it was really tricky, the tires started to slide, I think you remember how it feels. It was quite uncomfortable. I think Valtteri [Bottas] and the pack was catching up a bit, we were facing some traffic.
“But then I had I don’t know, like a second attempt, a second set of tires. I had some laps where the car was really, really good. I pushed everything I had because I knew if there is a chance to win, then that’s it. So I was able to use that window and came out ahead.”
Vettel’s lead was wiped away by a late safety car, but the four-time world champion kept cool at the front on the restart to record his second Monaco victory, following his maiden success in 2011.
“After the restart it was really tricky with the cold tires, I think every one of us was struggling. Daniel [Ricciardo] said he brushed the wall on Turn 1 on the first lap,” Vettel said.
“So it was really, really difficult, but after a couple of laps I was able to get into control the gap behind.
“Fantastic job, the team has done really well. Great thanks to them and a fantastic weekend for Ferrari.”