Sebastian Vettel needs to understand Belgium tyre weakness

Lewis Hamilton chases Sebastian Vettel - Belgian GP 2019

Sebastian Vettel says he and Ferrari must understand the reasons behind his tyre struggled at last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.

Vettel had been second to team-mate Charles Leclerc through much of the weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, and ultimately maintained the position on the opening lap.

But Vettel was the earliest of the front-runners to make a tyre change as he came in on lap 15 of 44, with Leclerc staying out until lap 21, and Lewis Hamilton lap 22.

The undercut thrust Vettel to the lead but he was reeled in by Leclerc, with the four-time champion swiftly obeying Ferrari’s team order to allow his team-mate to pass.

Vettel subsequently dropped behind Hamilton and was under pressure from Valtteri Bottas when he came in for a second stop, relegating him to fourth, where he finished.

“It was not by any means an easy race for me,” said Vettel.

“At the start, I managed to retake my position from Lewis but then I began to struggle with the tyres and I had to stop earlier than planned.

“With the Medium tyres at first I managed to maintain a good pace, but then it dropped again.

“I tried to keep second place but I couldn’t do it and at that point, the best thing to do was to pit once more for tyres and carry on without struggling so much.

“We have to understand why my car had such high tyre degradation and we will do a full analysis of the situation to understand the reasons why I did not feel comfortable.

“It was definitely not a great weekend for me, but it was a great weekend for the team and that’s the main thing.

“So congratulations to all the guys in the team and well done to Charles for his first win.”
Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto stressed that the squad would investigate Vettel’s struggles, with the German having typically been superior to Leclerc at tyre preservation in 2019.

“Certainly Sebastian suffered a bit more from degradation this weekend, both on Friday and then in the race,” said Binotto.

“It’s certainly down to the set-up as well. It’s certainly down to eventually… Seb normally is very good in managing tyres, especially in the very first laps somehow to use the tyres later in the stint.

“So it’s something on which we will take care, try to understand and analyse, and certainly something that if we may learn it would improve ourselves in the future. But so far, no answer.”