Despite to the less successful start to the 2019 season including an inconstantly performing car, team and driver errors, Sebastian Vettel is still very much hungry for success with Ferrari. The quadruple world champion is sure that the fabled Italian team has everything it needs to lift its performance both on and off the track to become a championship contender in the near future.
German RTL TV channel’s Florian König spoke to Germany’s second most successful Formula One driver ahead of the German Grand Prix.
Vettel was in contention for the title last year and was leading the Drivers’ Standings in certain stages of the season, but Ferrari’s inconstant performance and driver mistakes means that he only finds himself in fourth place of the Standings in 2019, 84 points off the leader Lewis Hamilton. The Heppenheim-born admitted that recent flops were not easy to get over, but he always tries to speak honestly about his errors and learn from his mistakes.
“I am not proud and not delighted with it. I think the fact that there is criticism is fairly normal and in a way understandable. If you look into the mirrors, you should understand what you did wrong. It could have been a bit better on a couple of occasions. In that race situation, I did not do the right call, of course. The end result proves that, as well. Had I changed to the other side instead of the inner line could have been the better decision,” he referred to the incident with Max Verstappen during the British Grand Prix.
Honesty is key to success
The German driver confessed that he finds it extremely difficult to accept and get over if he gets beaten by his team mate. “I think there is a rule: you are never as good as people try to prove, and you are never as bad as people try to show. When I do not perform as expected, I try to be honest to myself as well. If someone is faster than me, it annoys me tremendously. It does not make me happy, of course. After that, I always try to understand why that was the case and work out how to avoid it on the next occasion. I have to accept when Charles is sometimes better.”
The 32-year-old acknowledged that he does not only avoid social media, but he does not even follow what people say about his performance. However, if he learns about any criticism, he always tries to convert that into positive energy, converting it into valuable experience. “I do not follow that often and intensively what people say and write. For me it is important that I am always honest. I try to use the criticism to become even better. Every sportsman has to follow that way and try to get better even after many years.”
Vettel’s storming drives through the field, his mesmerizing qualifying performances and his incredible car control which he often showed at Ferrari in the past four years all belong to the past. This year, in his fifth season at the Maranello-based team, he does not find harmony with the car which is mostly down to the front end and the understeery nature of his SF90.
“The trust [in the front of the car] is sometimes there, but it is sometimes missing. It [the feeling] is not constant this year compared to the previous seasons,” he said.
Only one aim: success with Ferrari
Over the weekend, insecurity revolved around Vettel’s future. Many tipped the German to leave Ferrari at the end of the year and rejoin Red Bull, the team where he collected his four consecutive titles. Others suggested that the German could hang up his helmet after this season and turn his back on racing altogether, claiming that he lost his love for Formula One because of the way it has evolved over the past years.
However, Vettel ruled out that possibility of leaving Ferrari and join another team for next season, because his belief in Ferrari’s capabilities is still intact. “There are no options. The aim is to become successful with Ferrari. This is not my intention, but also the aim of the team. Looking back at the five years, we are certainly in a better shape than we were five years ago. However, we move a bit backwards compared to last year which does not make us proud or happy, but we are working flat-out to win.”
Asked about the rumours that he may call time on his F1 career at the end of the year, Vettel was quick to dismiss the false voices. “I never said that. I do not know where that came from, so that is totally unfounded.”
“Even if there is criticism towards me and in general because we are not there where we want to be, the team is very calm. Everything we can learn from this year, we can carry that over to the next season. However, following the dismal start and realizing that we are not there where we want to be, we called everything into question,” confessed Vettel against the German RTL channel.