Sebastian Vettel blames himself for missing out on an opportunity to challenge for victory in the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix because he did not deal with traffic well enough.
Ferrari went aggressive with its strategy when it chose to pit Vettel early for intermediate tires as a dry line began to appear on the streets of Monte Carlo. But the German rejoined behind Felipe Massa, who ran an extended stint on the full wets in what Williams performance chief Rob Smedley said was a tactical move to build a gap to Pascal Wehrlein.
Vettel was clearly quicker, but lost time behind Massa before the Williams eventually pitted and then again when he caught a group including Nico Rosberg who were still on the full wets.
“We did the right call,” said Vettel. “If the Williams pits when it’s time to pit for him, it looks very different. That is my bet if I find a way past.
“Again, we catch the group of Rosberg on the extreme [wets] and when they pitted then we kept on catching the leaders at that point [also] on extreme tires because we were on intermediates on a drying track.
“But it didn’t happen – that is a missed opportunity and I mostly blame myself but the team did a great job to get us in front of the Mercedes [of Rosberg].
“I’m not entirely happy because even if it was difficult to pass, I still expect myself to somehow pass, I was quicker than Felipe. But would, could, should. In the end we finished fourth.”
Vettel was catching Force India’s Sergio Perez in the closing stages and still retained hope of fighting for victory as he hoped Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo would have to pit again – but it did not happen.
“I wasn’t sure if the leaders would make it to the end of the race [on the ultra-soft and super-soft tires] – they did,” he said. “Once it was clear, I tried to close the gap to Sergio and I nearly lost the car once, but you have to try.
“We were around a second quicker than Sergio, but I couldn’t get past. But that’s Monaco.”
Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene agreed with Vettel that the team made the right call with strategy, even if it did not work out on this occasion.
“The strategy was correct, like it or not,” he said. “When you are in that position you have to do an aggressive strategy.
“Sebastian already told you that Massa in front of us could happen if we tried an aggressive strategy. Without that we were in a different position with Perez but having said that I don’t want to find any excuses. This can happen at Monaco when you try an aggressive strategy.”