HOCKENHEIM, Germany – Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel celebrated second place at his home German Grand Prix on Sunday as if it were almost a victory, and with reason.
The four times world champion confronted more than a few demons and came out smiling even if Max Verstappen was the winner for the Red Bull.
The 32-year-old fought his way through the field in assured style even though he failed to set a time in qualifying due to a turbocharger issue.
The race came as a contrast to last year when Vettel had been wrong-footed by a sudden raind shower and skidded off track.
Vettel kept his footing this time under the threat from young team mate Charles Leclerc, while the Monegasque crashed out while in second place.
Lewis Hamilton, last year’s German winner was lucky to score just two points after finishing 11th on the track but then being promoted after the Alfa Romeo drivers were penalised.
“I know that Max finished first so it’s not a victory,” declared Vettel.
“But starting last, I think, with the race that we had, I think we can certainly be very happy recovering. I think it was a very tough race, easy to lose focus or momentum but we kept it throughout.”
It was a bittersweet weekend for Ferrari, whose bid for pole unraveled spectacularly with both Vettel and Leclerc sidelined by power unit problems.
The team were also fined in the race for releasing Leclerc into the path of another car during a pitstop.
“It’s certainly a tough time for us as Ferrari with days like yesterday because it shows that we have things that we need to sort out, we have things that we need to do better,” said Vettel.
“We know what we can improve and that’s where we are working on but in the meantime I hope that people are a bit patient and give us that freedom in that time.
“But yeah, in that regard it feels like a small victory today.”
Leclerc, who had started the weekend hoping to overtake Vettel in the standings, was for once the one left feeling the pain. “I feel very bad for the team, for the fans, for everyone that has been working also to put the car back together for today,” said the youngster. “I take full responsibility for it.”