SHANGHAI, April 18, 2011 (AFP) - Defending world drivers' champion Sebastian Vettel has vowed to heed the lessons of his and his Red Bull team's first defeat of the season in Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix.
Vettel on qualification day.
The 23-year-old German, beaten into second place by an excellent attacking drive from Briton Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 champion, in a McLaren, said it was clear that his two-stop strategy for the race was the wrong one.
Hamilton preserved his tyres in qualifying, when he made only one run in Q3, and was able to race with fresher tyres on a three-stop strategy to seal victory. He is now second to Vettel by 18 points in the championship.
Vettel said: "It wasn't a trouble-free race for us, we had problems, but we also made our own mistakes and Lewis deserved to win. "We probably tried too hard staying on two stops. The middle stint should have been longer, but then I found mself on the hard tyre -- and I saw Lewis coming closer and closer.
"There was no point [fighting too hard], I tried to defend as much as I could without losing too much time. We made a couple of mistakes and we had some problems, but still we finished second so I am very happy for that."
Vettel started from pole, lost two places and then was lucky to regain his positions due to a bizarre bungle by Briton Jenson Button at his first pit-stop when he pulled up outside the Red Bull garage, instead of his McLaren
"I think the start was not the best we had this year, on top of that it seems for some reason the left hand side is worse than the right side here," added Vettel. "It wasn't a 100 per cent good start so I lost position. "And it was quite a surprise when Jenson was in front of me and went into my garage. We had something similar once when I was racing for Toro Rosso -- I don't know what attracts people to stop in our garage!
Vettel revealed also that he ran most of the race without a functioning communications radio to his team. "[The radio] didn't make it easier, usually you exchange info, what the tyres are, where are the other guys?" he said.
"I asked a lot of questions so I didn't get any answers. We had a problem with communications. We had a problem with KERS in the race, too. It wasn't a trouble-free race, but it was one we have to learn from.
"There's an important lesson to learn. Hamilton and McLaren were too strong and not in reach with our strategy. In my final stint, I was struggling a lot, you could see."
He added: "Now, we have to keep our feet on the ground. We have had three races, two victories and one second place so it is not so bad, but we have to learn and improve all the time."