Sebastian Vettel has admitted Ferrari were “not good enough” in 2018 after losing the Drivers World Championship to Lewis Hamilton in Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix.
Despite Vettel’s second-place finish in Mexico City, it wasn’t enough to stop fourth-placed Hamilton from winning his fifth World Championship title.
Vettel said he was “disappointed” the season-long battle had ended, despite the slim chances he had of taking the championship to the next round in Brazil. In David Coulthard’s immediate post-race interview, Vettel said he would’ve loved to keep the fight going, “but it wasn’t the case.”
World Champion Hamilton described Sunday’s race as “pretty horrible” after struggling with tyre degradation throughout. He spent the distance “just trying to hold on” and bring the car home. Hamilton’s fourth-place in Mexico was his first non-podium finish since retiring in July’s Austrian Grand Prix.
Vettel thought Ferrari had their chances in 2018 and also added that the team had used most of them, but ultimately Vettel felt he hadn’t done enough. Hamilton “deserved” the championship, he said.
“I’ve had three times now in my life that sort of disappointment, where you realise that you can’t win the championship any more and those are not happy days” – Sebastian Vettel
Since returning from the summer break, Vettel won just one Grand Prix, whereas Hamilton took four consecutive wins, from Italy to Japan. The turning point for Ferrari was in Singapore, according to Vettel, who denied the season was lost after he crashed from the lead in Germany. He said that incident was just “part of racing” and he’d done “much bigger mistakes this year.”
In Singapore, Hamilton stunned the paddock with a near perfect qualifying lap, which he then converted to an important race win. Vettel was left to finish third, behind second-placed Max Verstappen. “From Singapore onwards we just didn’t have the pace to keep up with Mercedes,” Vettel commented.
The 2018 season has made some things more apparent, according to Vettel, and he said those need addressing and fixing “in order to do that final step that we are looking for.” Ferrari has not produced a Drivers World Championship since Kimi Raikkonen in 2007.
Ferrari can still win the 2018 Constructors World Championship after closing the gap to Mercedes with a double-podium in Mexico. The Silver Arrows, despite winning the Drivers World Championship, had a “very bad race” in the words of Team Principal Toto Wolff. Their lead in the Constructors now sits at just 55 points.
Ferrari Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene did not comment on Vettel losing the Drivers World Championship, but did acknowledge the team’s potential in the Constructors. Ferrari are “determined to fight all the way to the finish”, he said.
Vettel had similar feelings and still felt the Constructors Championship was an achievable target. He said Ferrari deserves to have him performing to his full potential when Formula 1 heads to Brazil in two weeks time. “We can fight for the Constructors,” Vettel said. Teammate Kimi Raikkonen echoed the sentiments and was hopeful the gap would close with just two races left in 2018.
for nowI’m not the happiest guy, but in two weeks’ timeI’m allowed to step into the car that I always dreamt of driving, so plenty of things to be happy about” – Sebastian Vettel
Vettel denied that the year had been a bad one for Ferrari, even if Mercedes did win the Drivers Championship for the fifth consecutive year. He did concede it had been difficult, but went onto add, “I think still it’s been a good year for us as a team.”
Mercedes “did a superb job all year”, Vettel said. “I think we need to stand there, accept that and say congratulations.”