Sebastian Vettel has explained the importance of rejoining ahead of Valtteri Bottas following his pit stop en route to winning the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday.

With Vettel leading, Mercedes boxed Bottas and looked to have stolen a march on the German.

But Vettel pitted soon after and returned to the track marginally ahead of the Finn, who then struggled to stay in touch with the eventual winner.

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Vettel had overtaken polesitter Bottas into turn one and says he had to fight hard to preserve his advantage.

"I was pushing all the way," he said. "I think Valtteri was told to put a lot of pressure; he did but fortunately he never got in range, in DRS and never got close enough.

"That was the key to make sure in the middle sector we got some gap to make his life a bit tougher. I wanted to break free and control the race with a little bit more than two or 1.5 seconds.


"After the close stop it worked well, I could jump on him a little bit. Those first laps of the second stint I was able to stretch a bit of a gap and control that the rest of the race but basically we had the same pace.

"The team worked brilliantly. I was really happy with my approach on the way in. The stop was really quick and I was told it was going to be really close.

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"It was crucial to get ahead. I think it would be fair to say Mercedes were a bit quicker, Lewis was probably quicker in race trim but then he had a mirrored strategy. Nevertheless, it was really close, it was a tough one.

"Both cars on the podium, so very happy."