Sebastian Vettel admits not wanting to spoil title fight

Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Ferrari looks on as he sits in the garage during final practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 5, 2015
© Getty Images
Sebastian Vettel admits that he was careful in the closing laps of the Abu Dhabi finale to not ruin the battle for the 2016 world championship.

Sebastian Vettel has admitted that he was careful in the closing laps of the Abu Dhabi finale to not ruin the battle for the 2016 world championship.

However, the Ferrari driver denied that he deliberately did not overtake Nico Rosberg in order to support his German countryman, as Lewis Hamilton did his controversial 'backing up' manoeuvre from the lead.

"Nico was a little too fast for me on the straight," he told Auto Motor und Sport.

"Turn 11 was the best place but Nico did well to defend."

Some, however, suspect that the moves Vettel did try were half-hearted.

Vettel explained: "Nico was so close behind Lewis that I could not take full risk, because I could have cleaned [Hamilton] up as well. I did not want to risk a stupid manoeuvre."

However, the quadruple world champion has also been quoted as admitting he did not fully agree with Hamilton's backing up tactics.

"I would not have wanted to be in Nico's shoes," said Vettel. "Everyone knew that Lewis was up to. He was as slow as a bus, and wanted to drive Nico into us.

"I wanted to win the race for Ferrari, but I also knew that Lewis and Nico were racing for the title."

Vettel therefore said that Rosberg is a fully deserving world champion, dismissing Hamilton's hints that only better car reliability got him over the line.

"In my view, you can never be champion just with luck," Vettel told Bild.

"Sometimes you have luck, sometimes you are not so lucky, but I think that has happened to other drivers in the past.

"Nico collected the most points over the year, he was very consistent, and I think you should never doubt whether someone has earned the title or not. Over 21 races, the result speaks for itself."

Rosberg's defence of the title is set to start on March 26, 2017 with the Australian Grand Prix.

Esteban Gutierrez of Haas in the paddock during previews ahead of the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on April 28, 2016
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TeamPoints
1Ferrari37
2Mercedes33
3Red Bull10
4Williams-Mercedes8
5Force India7
6Toro Rosso6
7Haas0
8Renault0
9Sauber0
10McLaren0
DriversTeamPoints
1Sebastian VettelFerrari25
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes18
3Valtteri BottasMercedes15
4Kimi RaikkonenFerrari12
5Max VerstappenRed Bull10
6Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes8
7Sergio PerezForce India6
8Carlos SainzToro Rosso4
9Daniil KvyatToro Rosso2
10Esteban OconForce India1
11Fernando AlonsoMcLaren0
12Daniel RicciardoRed Bull0
13Romain GrosjeanHaas0
14Nico HulkenbergRenault0
15Kevin MagnussenHaas0
16Marcus EricssonSauber0
17Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren0
18Antonio GiovinazziSauber0
19Jolyon PalmerRenault0
20Lance StrollWilliams-Mercedes0