With 15 laps to go, everything seemed to be clear for Sebastian Vettel, another victory further cementing his lead in the drivers championship and another victory after his Silverstone win.
With an eight second lead, albeit in some incredibly treacherous driving conditions, Vettel looked set to stroke it home at his home Grand Prix. Of course, we all know what happened next at the infamous Sachskurve in the stadium section of the circuit.
The hairpin known as Sachskurve is a tricky left hander with varying camber, but crucially it is part of the original circuit and as such very narrow with little run off and a old school gravel trap Vettel became familiar with.
Many might think, how can a 4 time world champion ‘bin it’ in such a lame fashion?
And despite the armchair warriors taking to Twitter and / or their other various social network outlets, venting their criticism of the German – only 19 other drivers at that race can really understand how easy it is to fall off there.
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) July 22, 2018
Interestingly, a rather empathic young Dutchman called Max Verstappen sympathised with his Ferrari competitor and stated:
“It was super tricky out there, especially in the Sachskurve.
“A mistake can happen anytime, just like Vettels”
Perhaps an understanding arm around the shoulders from one ‘crashtor’ to another? Well, it’s was not the first mistake by Vettel this year.
“Oh well, that could have happened to any of us.” comments Verstappen.
Max then gives his Jesus like insight of what to do in the wet, with those memories of Interlagos still fresh in the memory despite being nearly 2 years ago now.
“You’re just trying to catch the slides everywhere. At the same time you have to estimate the risk well, because you do not want to risk a nice point haul. To deal with this risk is very difficult”
Then commenting on his own race, Max mentions his gamble for a wetter downpour.
“Things did not work for us. It began to rain more heavily, and the rainfall spread at turns 8 to 10. So I thought – if this continues, the third part of the run will soon be wet.
“But that did not happen. So I had to come back to the pits and pick up dry tires again.
“It was a bit of gambling, but it did not pay off. ”
Was Vettel unlucky?
With the new onboard footage of the period leading up to the crash, it’s clear to see conditions on track were actually a lot worse than how it appeared on TV, with Sebastian running deep and wide several times.
Deliberately running wide around turns – the track is more porous off the racing line but on the racing line, the asphalt has a lot of rubber on it, so the water sits on that rather than sinking into the cracks in the tarmac.
It’s why he runs half a cars width wide through corners, brakes off line and runs deep to pick up the grip on the other side of the racing line.
But where we see Vettel run really deep and get away with it, this is simply not possible in the older section, the site of the accident. The track around this section is incredibly narrow, with no run off and lots of gravel.
Vettel himself admits making ‘a small mistake’ was hugely costly for the team.
Leading both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships before the race, Vettel and Ferrari are now behind in both.
“I threw it away. It was my mistake. We had the pace and we controlled the race for most of it,” Vettel said. “We had the race in the bag.”
“It was a small mistake but a big impact on the race. A tiny bit too late on the brakes, I locked the rears and I couldn’t turn. It wasn’t the biggest mistake I’ve done, but one of the mostly costly ones.”