• German Grand Prix

Vettel defends Button overtake despite being penalised

ESPN Staff
July 22, 2012 « No action taken against Red Bull after investigation | Ferrari still needs to improve - Alonso »
Sebastian Vettel passed Jenson Button on the outside of turn six on the penultimate lap of the race © Sutton Images

Sebastian Vettel defended his overtaking manoeuvre on Jenson Button which saw him provisionally take second place on the penultimate lap despite running off the track.

Vettel was handed a 20 second penalty and relegated to fifth after the race for the move, which happened as Button defended the inside line in to the turn six hairpin and Vettel went wide off the track as he got the power down in order to out-drag the McLaren. Vettel said he was disappointed not to have the pace to challenge for victory but that he was just trying to avoid contact with Button as he completed his move.

"It was a decent race," Vettel said. "Not enough pace, especially once we got close enough to Fernando at some parts of the race; in the beginning and then after the first stop we were never close enough to really start the manoeuvre. In the end we lost the position to Jenson who I think had a good stop - he came in a little bit earlier plus a couple of laps before that I lost quite some time with Lewis - and then in the end Jenson's tyres were absolutely gone and we were able to close the gap again.

"Then I think it was a question of when rather than where [I'd pass him], and I tried to outbrake him, he opened the brake again and then was on the inside. I wasn't sure where he was - I couldn't see him to be honest in that moment - and then decided to give enough space. I decided to go off-line on the slippery paint and still I was able to stay ahead. That's how I got past him."

When he was asked if he felt the move was legal, Vettel pointed to the wording of 'gaining an advantage' in the regulations, saying that the paint he was on would have given less grip than the track.

"I think clearly it's not an advantage if you try to accelerate on the paint rather than on the circuit. So as I said the only intention was not to crash and to give him enough room. I had the nose, I was a little bit in front because I was braking later and then I was pretty sure he was not giving up like that! I know him quite well and I think we get along quite well with each other so there's respect on both sides and I didn't want to squeeze him on the inside so that's why I decided to [run wide]. It was good to be on the podium at the home race, but I have to respect the steward's decision."