You could also say along the same line about Vettel's result in Abu Dhabi, safety cars and the tactics to change his setup allowed him to end up there.
Going by the most wrongly mentioned 'lucks', let's break it down:Vettel was lucky to start from the pitlane and set his car up for the race
Well, first of all, if starting from the pitlane with a race set-up is beneficial, then why don't they just qualify with a race set-up. Even qualifying 24th with race set-up (if it would be so slow in qualifying) is better than starting from the pitlane.
The fastest way around the circuit (for the Red Bull) is with a high-downforce set-up. That is why they always choose the high-downforce set-up. Agree?
Having a high downforce set-up, means that you’re slower than other cars on the straight, and faster than other cars in the corners. Agree?
Having a car 12kph slower on the straight means that it’s significantly more difficult to overtake other cars. Agree?
Having a high-downforce set-up means that you’re faster than other cars in corners. Agree?
Since you can’t overtake in corners, it means you have to adjust your speed to the car in front of you, since you can’t drive through him. Agree?
So having the fastest set-up means that at best you’re only as fast as the car in front in the corners, and slower on the straight. Agree?
So the only way to have any chance of not losing massive amounts of time behind a car your car is incapable of overtaking, is by going for a low-downforce set-up. Agree?
But as we’ve already established, the fastest way around the track in a Red Bull is with a high-downforce set-up. Remember?
So you either
- have a car that slows you down because you’re stuck behind a car that is faster at the only place you can overtake
- you have a car that allows you to pass the car slowing you down, but is slower overall because of the set-up.
For most other cars, the compromise between being able to race with others, and being fast over a lap, is minimal. Their fastest lap set-up still allows for a straight-line speed that makes overtaking possible. Red Bull in the meantime has a top-speed that is bettered by the HRT and Marussia’s. That’s why Hamilton did not need to change his set-up in Spain: with his fastest lap set-up, he was 5th in the speed trap. With Vettel’s fastest lap set-up, he is 24th in the speed trap.Vettel was lucky with the first safety car, as it closed the gap
Without the first safety car, he would not have been behind a swerving Ricciardo, and he would not have sustained the front wing damage that forced him in (in the Senna event, he lost no speed).
By the time he was back in p13 where he was before the safety car, the gap to the leaders was the same as before, so he gained no net time.Vettel was lucky with the first safety car, as it put him on fresher tires
First of all, if a two-stopper was beneficial, they would have gone with that.
Vettel was matching Kimi's speed, while he was on hard tires, so there was no need for him to get fresh or soft tires if not for the wing damage made possible by the safety car.Vettel was lucky to have people crash into eachother
The only people 'crashing into eachother' were Rosberg and Hülkenberg at the start, and Massa spinning with Webber.
Considering he made short work of the other Mercedes' and Force India, there is little doubt he would have had trouble with them. Maybe Massa would have given him some trouble, but considering Webber's relative pace, it's unlikely.Vettel was lucky he only needed to overtake backmarkers
First of all, Vettel did 20 on-track overtakes. There are not that many backmarkers.
Among those he overtook were: Senna, Grosjean, di Resta, Schumacher and Button.Sum up
- missing FP3
- faulty fuel system
- having to switch to a set-up that lead to slower lap times
- incident with Ricciardo (pit stop and ruined strategy)
- Getting closer to Button with the second safety carCONCLUDING
Ignoring time lost in FP3, if Vettel had started on p3, he would have been in p2 after the first corner. Considering his race pace was matching Kimi on a set-up that was not beneficial to fastest time around the track, it's safe to assume he would have comfortably stayed ahead of Kimi. Compare that to running a non-beneficial set-up, having to plow through the field twice, and having your strategy set back, the only way you can claim Vettel was lucky is if you ignore what actually happened.