Ferrari headed into the August Formula One break with a one-two victory in Hungary on Sunday but race winner and championship leader Sebastian Vettel recognised that team mate Kimi Raikkonen had been faster.
The German’s fourth win of the season put him 14 points clear of Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton, who could have been on the podium but instead ceded third place back to Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas in an act of sportsmanship.
Vettel was suffering with steering problems and had to stay off the kerbs but there was never any suggestion that he might let Raikkonen, who was in danger of being caught by Hamilton, go through.
“I didn’t do a favour to Kimi who obviously could go faster, I didn’t have the pace,” the relieved German said in podium interviews.
Vettel explained that the steering wheel had started to go sideways from early on, forcing him to focus on keeping the car steady.
“Towards the end it did come back a bit. I had a couple of laps where I had a bit of a cushion and I could breathe a bit. But yeah, I really had to stay focused the whole race,” he added.
“It was a weird feeling because basically it was tilted to the left so you go down the straights and the steering isn’t straight and then in right-handers it’s sort of okay.”
Raikkonen still celebrated his eighth podium in Hungary, even if six have been second places at what is almost a home race for the Finn with plenty of compatriots in evidence.
But he recognised he might have hoped for more at a circuit where overtaking is difficult.
The top five all finished in their grid positions.
“The other guy has to do quite a big mistake or have some issue. It’s not easy to overtake and especially with team mates you take more care. But at least they (Ferrari) are still happy — that’s the main thing,” said Raikkonen.
“Seb was yesterday first (in qualifying) and he got away first and obviously the aim was whichever way we finish we’re going to finish one-two.”