Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit of the Americas, 2018

Vettel: Third championship defeat a “horrible moment”

2018 Mexican Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel described the end of his championship chances in the Mexican Grand Prix as a “horrible moment”.

The Ferrari driver finished second in a race he needed to win to stay in the title fight with Lewis Hamilton. “I did pay attention in maths so I could make the numbers, but still, you hang in there as long as you can.”

Vettel, who won four consecutive Formula 1 drivers’ titles from 2010 to 2013, said he considers this the third time he has experienced defeat in a championship fight.

“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.

“You reflect not on one moment but the whole year: the work that goes in, the effort that goes in from the end of the last year until now and yeah, I think we had our chances. We used most of them, some we did not. But in the end we were not good enough.”

Vettel congratulated Hamilton at the end of yesterday’s race. “I think he drove superbly all year and was the better one of us two.

“So I told him well deserved and to enjoy it – number five is something incredible. Mainly congratulated him and asked him to keep pushing for next year, I need him at his best to fight him again.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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53 comments on “Vettel: Third championship defeat a “horrible moment””

  1. It has not been an enjoyable year being a Vettel fan, especially after the giddy highs of the initial couple of races.

    I do hope Vettel comes back in 2019 with a clearer mind, and with the goal of winning the WDC for himself. And with a hungry young teammate in Leclerc, I hope that also propels him forward.

    I am not 100% confident that Red Bull will come out of the gate swinging, nor will Renault make a big step up despite their formidable driver pairing, so we will have to look at the big two names at the head of the field to entertain us.

    1. I do hope Red Bull joins them next year.
      We need more races like Mexico where there are 3 teams fighting for the big prizes (and the sorry enabling the other 7 teams to catch up)

      1. @coldfly – fully agreed. In an ideal 2019 season, I’d like to see Red Bull at their level or 2018 or even better, and with Renault receiving an infusion of funds from HQ, to also allow them to move forward to the big league. I’m not going to be naïve and hope for 20 competitive cars, but would love to see 8 cars duking it out at the front (although that will make things a little more do-or-die for the midfield, as the number of positions available to them in quali and the race will halve from four to two.

        What tempers my hope is that this is F1, and it has tended to underwhelm in such matters more often than not.

    2. More likely than not it will be Mercedes and Ferrari fighting for the title again in 2019. I honestly hope that Leclerc gets a fair shot at the title rather than playing #2 to a driver who’s shown he just doesn’t belong in the same league as Hamilton.

      Personally, I think Vettel’s time to win titles is done with. He had a good run with an exceptionally strong Red Bull, but now the going gets much tougher without that machinery advantage. Now there’s a new breed of racers in Verstappen (and potentially Leclerc) who could dethrone Lewis, and I just hope the team that challenges Mercedes backs the right driver instead of flogging a dead horse.

      1. I still wonder if there is any chance of a switcheroo between Hamilton and Vettel for 2019, @todfod.

        We all know that Hamilton wants to drive for Ferrari one day, and it must be even more appealing now as the car is fast and he’d be considered a special one if he can bring a title back to them (what is ‘blessed’ in Italian).
        Ferrari will slowly get a bit disappointed (if not upset) about the lost chances with Vettel; they let Alonso go for a lot less.
        And Mercedes know that Hamilton is great for marketing, but they surely prefer a German driver again.

        Anyway, it would be great for the sport, the fans, and all parties involved, methinks.

        1. @coldfly I think that will happen for 2020, and Vettel will have his last chance of a world tittle in red in 2019.
          It is very interesting to me however the inner teams mechanics, how they work and how that affects the drivers. Vettel, at least so far, doesn’t seem to cope well with pressure while wearing red, well he is awful at it actually. Hamilton while more mature obviously seem to thrive on the Merc environment. For me this is the most interesting reason to see a switch between them. I get the feeling that Hamilton would do better, because he simply wouldn’t care as much as Vettel for driving for Ferrari, and that would play in his favour, and maybe the same would happen for Vettel if he was in the Merc, not as special, and therefore not as much self inflicted pressure.

          I also hope, people give Leclerc some space and time to develop, if he performs well from the go, it will be better for us, but if it doesn’t that’s ok, it is his second season in F1 against an experienced and world champion team-mate, there is no need to rush him and put pressure that he doesn’t need at this stage of his career. Of course if he win the championship next year that would be pretty cool

        2. There’s one problem with your plan. As Rosberg proved, Hamilton brakes under the right pressure. The mindgames he like to play are nothing compared with the pressure Italian press and Ferrari politics seem to play.
          I am not sure of Hamilton survives such a pressure.
          Only Schumacher, accompanied by two strong top men withstand the pressure and build a winning team.

          1. I’m not sure I’d call Rosberg winning in 2016 (despite all the tricks he admitted he had to resort to) a result of Lewis breaking under pressure. He had some bad starts in a year when the clutches were revised for the sole purpose of making the race starts more difficult… that’s the only blot on his season I can remember. If anything, Lewis was too nonchalant. He didn’t seem too bothered by the slow starts at first, then when he realized Rosberg was stealing a march he got that sorted pretty quickly. But with all his niggling reliability issues (especially the engine blow up) he couldn’t make up the deficit. Hardly breaking under pressure, IMO.

          2. As Rosberg proved, Hamilton brakes under the right pressure

            *breaks.

            Also you are wrong. Rosberg proved nothing other than for 4 season in a row he would be out driven by Hamilton. Even in 2016 where he threw absolutely everything at it Hamilton still walked away at the end of the season the better racer of the 2, more wins, more poles and if you look at the races not affected by mechanical issues he outscored Rosberg by roughly the same margin he did in ’14 and ’15.

        3. Won’t happen – Ferrari lets it be known if they want you as with Alonso and Vettel and they never approached Hamilton.
          More likely Ricciardo, especially with his Italian heritage.

          1. Although Hamilton did mention he was approached by a top team in the summer break this year. Most people thought it was Ferrari because I just don’t see Red Bull pairing Verstappen and Hamilton together.

            Ferrari are fools if they aren’t trying to poach Hamilton.

  2. It’s probably the best thing that could’ve happened to Vettel at this point. He was never going to win it after those errors at previous races, so maybe now he has time to refocus and enjoy these last 2 races and fully commit to next year, like Rosberg did in the final races of 2015.

    1. That’s the problem. That’s the thing I find the most embarrassing aspect about him. It seems as if he got mentally beaten way back in Monza, and never really had it in him to try to fight against the odds. Or more precisely, to fight when the odds are not firmly in his favor. It seems that this whole plethora of mistakes, each one just brought him more relief, not stress. He mentally ran away from the fight way back in Monza, and was just hoping for it to be over sooner rather than later.

      He wasn’t just a weaker driver, he was right down embarrassing, for someone who was supposed to be the top of the crop.

      For all the Marchionne’s managerial genius, the one that came back to cost them is probably the one he was the least worried about. He changed all the top people and gave the team a clean slate, so that they don’t feel like they’ve been missing out on the title for the past 4 years, but to feel as if they are just starting. And while it was a right decision regarding the managers and engineers, changing a driver that was never lacking, for another one he thought of just as good, proved a bad one. It’s a standard trick of “appearing to do something” in order to relief the pressure on the team. Same thing McLaren is now doing with Vandoorne and Norris. There’s ZERO problem with Vandoorne, and 100% with everything else in the team. Yet, the most visible change is the one of the driver, so they will be doing that, to appear to be making some progress. It can help relief the pressure, but when you regroup, and are back at the battlefield again, you best hope that your final ingredient, the one that is supposed to seal the victory, is actually up to the challenge.
      And for the second year in a row, Vettel is found lacking.

    2. Fer no.65

      You’re on it.
      The results of the last 2 races are immensely important. Vettel needs to beat Hamilton to get momentum and confidence going into 2019.

  3. I agree with the comments above. I hope Renault can join the hunt with their two very good drivers next year. I’m not sure about Honda, Gasly has used 8 engines so far this season!! RBR may be fast but how reliable?

    1. I’m not sure about Honda, Gasly has used 8 engines so far this season

      For sure some of those changes were tests being done on different specs with a view to 2019, but to us outsiders it is hard to quantify how many genuine engine failures Toro Rosso experienced.

  4. Vettel may look at it the wrong way. He should first of all be happy he got to win 4 titles. I doubt whether he would have won any if it hadn’t been for his car dominance during his RB time. He is incredibly quick on a single clear lap, but I have just occassionally seen real driver skills when battling.

    1. Lewis has won two titles because of a dominant car. In 2014 and 2015. Rosberg wasn’t nearly as good as the rivals Seb had during 2011 and 2013. Is he the best at close racing? No probably Max, Ricciardo and Lewis are a bit better but that doesn’t mean he doesnt deserve those titles.

      1. I hear you but in my perspective Seb hasn’t shown anything but beating a rather mediocre Webber and (not in his prime anymore) Raikkonen. His year against RIC was not great. So being up there with 4 titles, I think he should count his blessings

        1. 2014 was like Daniel’s 2018 season. Ricciardo drove a great season whereas Seb didn’t as much but the latter had some awful reliability in a lot of races such as Australia, Monaco, Austria and a couple more same for Ricciardo. Good driving overall but awful reliability. I understand the point about teammates though and the blessings.

          Only time can tell those about his titles. His drive though yesterday was very good given he had amazing pace on all tyres and he was the one to match Verstappen’s pace. Some decent overtaking as well.

          1. True. Good race from Vettel

  5. Class act by Vettel! Best moment of the race was the sportsmanship between him and Lewis. If he fixes those little mistakes he can win the title. Yesterday he was great in the race. No mistakes.

    1. If he fixes those little mistakes

      you mean the spinning on several occasions part, or the crashing at a little rain part or did you meant something else: “little”?
      And even if Vettel succeeds he has a team capable of inventing new problems along the way..

      1. The mistakes he did weren’t a spectacle of crashing like in Belgium 2010. They were bumps to other people which didn’t damage his car except France. They were little because if he was more cautious he would have avoided them. His mistake in Germany wasn’t little so I concede that.

    2. I may be wrong but I did detect one Vettel nudge on another car in Mexico but with no bits falling off for either driver.

      1. Tyres touched with Bottas. Nothing big to be honest.

  6. Nell (@imabouttogoham)
    29th October 2018, 10:36

    He’s focusing on the “three defeats” at the moment (2018, 2017… what’s the third one? He barely challenged in 2016, wasn’t really in it in 15 and 14…) but history still remembers how dominant he was from 2010 to 2013.

    Someone might post here and say he scrapped by in 2010 but that’s just exactly how history works, you definitely remember who the champion was, you’ll probably forget how the losers lost.

    1. I can only guess that he’s referring to 2009, when he pushed Jenson Button to the penultimate race. To the outside world, he seemed far off it and it was always going to Button, but I suppose in reality he was closing the gap all the time after Button stopped winning post-Turkey. He actually finished closer to Button in 2009 than he did to Hamilton in 2017 (points adjusted) and probably this year too.

    2. @imabouttogoham – like @ben-n , I too feel his reference is to 2009. Button slept off at the wheel midway (I have always held the opinion that the very nature that it was his home GP made him take his eye off the ball), and RBR’s development game started catching up. Vettel might also compare DNFs in that season to make him think how it could have gone differently.

    3. 2009. He was closing on Button in the second half but Brawn GP away unbeatable in the first 7 races. Didn’t have the time to close the gap.

  7. Well, just make sure you don’t throw away so many realistically available points next season to stand a better chance than this or last season.

    1. Yes, I agree with that.
      You can’t expect to beat Lewis and Mercedes in their current form by making mistakes. To be the 2019 World Drivers’ Champion, and this is really the advantage of not having a handicap system, you need to bring your game up to the same standard as theirs. Mercedes can be beaten, but only a competitor that does things better will do it.

  8. He refers to 2017, 2018 and …? What’s that 3rd?

    1. 2009 maybe. He had the car that year and took the championship down to the last 2 races.

      1. Had the car after the first 8 races though. Brawn was dominant in the first 7 (6 out of 7). The only exception was China where Seb won. It was more like chasing Button down but he didn’t have any more races in the end.

        1. Had the car after the first 8 races though.

          Exactly. In the first 8 races, it wasn’t the best car – in the remaining 9, it was.

  9. KEHINDE BAMGBOPA
    29th October 2018, 11:00

    “I honestly hope that Leclerc gets a fair shot at the title rather than playing #2 to a driver who’s shown he just doesn’t belong in the same league as Hamilton.
    Personally, I think Vettel’s time to win titles is done with. He had a good run with an exceptionally strong Red Bull, but now the going gets much tougher without that machinery advantage.”

    I think it is unfair to reach such a conclusion as above.
    These F1 drivers, in individual teams face different kinds of pressure. Some need to measure up to their teammates. Some, to the potential of their cars and just to show up and not be disgraced etc. Only two of the lot have had the added pressure of competing for the championship:- Herr Vettel and Mister Hamilton.
    It is not easy and I salute them both. I was happy to see the mutual respect on display yesterday and indeed, throughout this season.
    On the young gun, such was said about Checo when going up against Jenson and Van Donne when up against Alonso. We all know how those turned out. The added pressure often tells

  10. My respect for Vettel as a driver has dipped a little this year, but my respect for Vettel as a human being has sky rocketed. Interviews like this are the reason why.

    1. My respect for Seb skyrocketed when he made the effort for a photo with my son, was 9. Increased when he then ignored to sign the massive Ferrari fans in testing in Spain but signed the same photo of him and my lad.

      Respect increased heaps when I took my daughter this year and he made sure he got a photo and was awesome.

      Once Seb had kids he is much more a complete man. I hope he and Lewis knocks out next year and he grabs his 5th.

      1. That’s a very nice anecdote @garns , good to hear from someone who’s had the opportunity to meet him in person. I would love to see those pictures (once you’ve anonymized your children’s faces).

        1. @phylpy
          I will do mate, just need to work out how to do it lol. IT I am bad, lucky to get an icon photo really (took at Pit entry in Spain testing 2016, they come in so fast).

          Any tips how to post photos easy, I have a few great ones over the past few years l, would love to share with F1Fs

    2. @fluxsource Very much agree. I was really impressed by him going to congratulate the Mercedes mechanics too.

  11. Geez everyone calm down no need to bash Vettel like this, we all ruled him out at 2017 even Nico Rosberg did the same and ruled vettle that he would not be able to compete for a championship after that season, then 2018 came and he won more races and was more competitive only began mess ups second half of the season his 4time world champion and he deserved them all let’s wait and see what 2019 holds it could be his year 2019, it could be another Lewis year or a very unlikely Lecler year we just don’t know so let’s just wait and see no need to rule anyone out

    1. @seb5 why are you talking in the third person there mate?

        1. interesting @phylyp João is amused with that speech technique, he shall refer to his being accordingly

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