MONZA, Italy (Reuters) - Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel blamed Lewis Hamilton for a first lap collision that left him 30 points behind the Formula One leader on Sunday but was confident he still had everything to play for.
“I’m not too worried. I think we have the pace,” the German told reporters after finishing fourth in an Italian Grand Prix won by his Mercedes rival.
“The points sound a lot but actually it doesn’t take a long time to get them down.”
There are seven races remaining and the next, Singapore, should favour Ferrari over Mercedes who have struggled there in the past.
There was no hiding the fact, however, that Vettel missed an opportunity to rein in Hamilton that could come back to haunt him at the end of the season if the Briton goes on to take a fifth title.
Once again, Vettel’s temperament was called into question after a collision that some pundits felt might have been avoided.
The German viewed it differently, of course.
“I think Lewis probably saw his chance around the outside but didn’t give me any room and turned in. Obviously his car at that point feels a lot better than mine with nobody in front and I had nowhere to go,” he said.
“It was unfortunate for us to get spun around and have a lot of damage but it could have been also him that spins around and us carrying on.
“But I think given I was looking the wrong way after four corners and (in) last (place), finishing in fourth with effectively the same strategy as everybody else is a decent recovery with the damage we had.”
Vettel said he felt sorry for the fans who had turned up expecting a Ferrari triumph and recognised they had failed to deliver.
Team mate Kimi Raikkonen, who had started on pole position, finished second.
Vettel said he was surprised when he inspected the car at the finish.
“The whole sidepod was missing. The forward edge of the floor nearly to the end, the outside structure of the floor, was gone.
“Obviously, in the beginning I felt the contact and could also see on TV (the big screens) that my front wing was hanging down and I could see some sparks...but I thought it should be just the nose.
“And when I got going again (after the pitstop for a new front wing) the car was actually quite horrible to drive and I had a lot of snaps and moments. Then I got used to it and drove around it but when I got out of the car I was surprised myself.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond