Vettel Singapore and Hockenheim, 2018

Vettel: Singapore defeat, not Germany crash, was season’s defining moment

2018 Mexican Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel says Ferrari’s defeat in the Singapore Grand Prix was the most significant moment in the team’s season after losing the championship to Lewis Hamilton.

Asked whether his crash while leading the German Grand Prix or his first-lap spin Italy was the moment that defined Ferrari’s championship, Vettel said “None of the two, to be honest.

“For me it was more Singapore. I think from Singapore onwards we just didn’t have the pace to keep up with Mercedes for a couple of races.”

Vettel finished third in Singapore, almost 40 seconds behind Hamilton. It was the first in a series of races where Ferrari’s performance slumped. They recovered in Austin, where Kimi Raikkonen won, after the team removed several parts they had introduced to their car in recent races.

However Vettel admitted his mistakes contributed to his championship defeat.

“And then obviously some other things happened on top that didn’t help and we couldn’t score the points due to mistakes that we did, mistakes that I did. So it didn’t help.

“I can’t be too hard on myself with what happened in Germany because it’s not like… I’ve done much bigger mistakes this year but obviously it was the most costly one. Unfortunately it’s part of racing: when you push you might be sometimes pushing a little bit too hard. I chose the wrong corner as well.

“But anyway, it’s behind me and I’m not really thinking about that too much. I consider it part of racing and it happens to others as well. But seeing that struggle in the last couple of weeks, just for pace and speed was probably more defining than that.”

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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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64 comments on “Vettel: Singapore defeat, not Germany crash, was season’s defining moment”

  1. Admitting those mistakes is one step towards a more competitive season next year. I like the fact that Vettel has been so gracious in defeat. Class act. From a Hamilton fan.

    1. @lems Hopefully his fans/Ferrari fans can learn from cause they are the most toxic. Destroying every comment section every social media outlet such as FB, IG, Twitter and other forums, i’ve never seen so much hate as Hamilton is getting.

      1. from your description it sounds like standard social media behaviour, regardless of the person they are aiming for.

        1. Pretty much business as usual. You can put any personality from anywhere in the world on a public pedestal and there will be hate and vile comments directed towards them for no apparent reason to some and blatantly obvious to others.

      2. @noname Exactly the same as “Hamilton fans” then.

      3. You forgot YouTube, the most dignified salon of commentary the world has ever known.

        1. Youtube comments section is the best entertainment this world had ever known.

      4. Hopefully his fans/Ferrari fans can learn from cause they are the most toxic.

        You litterarly think EVERY Sebfan is like this?! Mate, most of us have lives and got better things to do!

    2. He has, and from a Ferrari and Vettel fan, I have to say that Lewis has been mighty this season!
      He won races he shouldn’t be able to, so big cudos to him. Well deserved!

  2. He has been very gracious. And he sure means it.
    I can remember some titles in the last years where it hasn’t been as gracious, including some of the titles Vettel has won.

  3. Seb has been class act. His race in Mexico was very good, fast on all sets, didn’t risk much and did some decent overtaking. If he can fix those mistakes for 2019, then we are in for a treat.

    1. Vettel probably will, not so sure about the Ferrari of today. It seems their reaction is to throw around blame and look for someone to fire, whereas for example Mercedes seems to just put their heads down and get it fixed.

    2. @panagiotism-papatheodorou

      His race in Mexico was very good,

      Interestingly Hamilton/Mercedes’ race in Mexico was probably as bad as Vettel/Ferrari’s in Singapore, yet Vettel still laments his and Hamilton is partying.
      Thus as much as I like the honest self-reflection of Vettel in these quotes it (Vettel’s mistakes and Hamilton’s lack thereof*) still defines this championship and the fact that it ended for them in Mexico.

      * Hamilton also made some mistakes early in the season, but not as severe nor as many.

      1. In the post-race interview, Hamilton said: “It was a horrible race!”.

  4. Not sure I agree with Seb. Points swing in Germany alone was some 38 points.

    1. @blazzz – agreed, Germany was the beginning of the end of Vettel’s campaign. Not just points, but also the momentum of victories (conveniently ignoring Spa as the exception).

    2. I’d say it was a 32 point swing but it’s still pretty huge isn’t it? the gap is 64 now, so even if all other results had remained the same they would now be 32 apart and seb could take it to the final round with a win even if lewis finished 2nd (lewis would be 25 ahead with 25 remaining, both potentially could finish the year with 8 wins, count back would be on 2nd places)

      1. @frood19 No, in that scenario, the championship race does not go to the final round. Vettel has 5 victories now to Hamilton’s 9, so in that scenario, Vettel would have 6 victories versus 8 for Hamilton. So a 25 point gap going into Abu Dhabi would still be title decided.

        1. @mashiat no, because this scenario assumes he won in hockenheim too. therefore wins in interlagos and abu dhabi would give him 8. however, I’ve now realised you are correct that the title would still be decided in interlagos – under my scenario hamilton would end the year with more 2nd places. it’s a fools game this!

    3. @blazzz that’s not the thing he is referring to in my opinion, definitely it is a big chunk of points, but I’m sure that after the race the main though on his and Ferrari’s minds was “ok, we still have the car to do this, no worries we will get it back”, and when they arrived at Singapore they noticed that that wasn’t the case anymore, those points would never come back as they expected. Afterwards what happened was a case of over thinking everything in the car, trying to reach places that at times weren’t possible and the mistakes started to pile up. As soon as the championship was pretty much dusted he delivers the Mexico performance, surely that is not a coincidence, it is however incredibly because he was chasing championships when he was younger and managed to turn things around.

      The good news for him, and for Ferrari, is that for one self to improve it first has to own to his mistakes, he has done that, now he needs to move forward and properly challenge for 2019. Otherwise this image that people have of him for being the most undeserved 4 time world champion will remain (which in all honestly he probably doesn’t care).

      I think he can be one of the best in the grid (as I would if given the opportunity), but if he isn’t you guys can count on me for the silly remarks about his mistakes.

      1. after the race the main though on his and Ferrari’s minds was “ok, we still have the car to do this, no worries we will get it back”, and when they arrived at Singapore they noticed that that wasn’t the case anymore, those points would never come back as they expected.

        I tend to agree with you there @johnmilk. The mistakes certainly didn’t help, they upset the winning streak. But when the realization in Singapore came that not only were they behind on points, but also the car was not fast enough anymore, especially on a track where Mercedes had struggled in the past, the feeling must have sank in that they were in a tough position to turn this around.

      2. I agree with your assessment, @johnmilk.
        It seems that some people only react to the headline (I wanted to do that as well) rather than reading the full article first.

        1. @coldfly
          Well the headline is proper clickbait so its not surprising.

          Still i dont agree even after reading the article.

          1. which part of the article or @johnmilk‘s comment do you not agree with? @rethla.

            Vettel does rate his own German race as ‘the most costly one’, but feels that his struggle for pace in the latter part of the season was ‘more defining’.
            Hard to disagree with, especially as it is his opinion.

            Titles do encourage to open/read articles. I believe however that many people do not just fall for the ‘clickbait’, but also fall for their own insatiable need to comment quickly before truly understanding what’s being said.

          2. @coldfly Well clickbait is something that taken out of context from the article says something completly different than the article just for cheap clicks. Obviously the headline is angled in such away that Vettel is blaming the team and not his errors.

            I agree with johnmilk but i dont agree with Vettel about what is the defining moment of his downfall. I posted my thoughts further down if you are interested.

  5. Jesus Christ, how many more articles are we going to have about his driving?
    How many ways are there to say: his driving sucked.
    Just remove all of his mistakes, from the second part of the season only, not even counting Baku, Paul Riccard etc.
    He easily lost 70 points alone just from those mistakes. Points swing in Germany alone was 30+ points. Add to that a few races where the swing was a more conservative 10 points, a you have your answer.
    He was driving like an amateur and he lost. There was zero fight in him. Every mistake he made, just gave him more relief, knowing that he won’t have to “fight” for the title much longer.

    1. If he sucked, Kimi was Maldonardo bad…

      1. Kimis qualities is well known.

  6. Next season, just make sure you don’t throw away so many realistically available points to stand a better chance for the title than this or last season.

  7. Next season Charles will be there as a backup plan if Vettel fails to deliver, I wonder though if they will have equal treatment, it will be really interesting, this might have been his last realistic chance to get the championship with Ferrari as a Rosberg/Hamilton isn’t far from there and as Vettel doesn’t really like to have internal competition and Leclerc won’t be there as an Extra.

    1. Actually I think Kimi is the backup plan. Should Charles not deliver, Kimi is just a few dozen meter down the paddock. I’d be surprised if such a clause is not in Mimi’s and Charles’s next year contract. For all his passivity this year he still delivered enough points to marginally still keep Ferrari in the title fight.

      1. Not only, raikkonen as a number 2, who is also 4 years beyond the peak of a driver, did a totally fine job, just as bottas did, the one who underdelivered is vettel, who’s a number 1 in his prime with 4 titles, he was slaughtered by hamilton, which bottas didn’t do to raikkonen, it’s vettel who lost the constructor title as well!

    1. Absolutely. I thought Hamilton looked completely deflated when his car stopped in qualifying in Germany. At that time I thought it was all over. But then Sebastian, with his error let him off the hook and Ham came roaring back and never looked back.

      Seb had Hamilton on the mat and he let him go. Hamilton never returned the favor. He was just too good after that.

      1. Nah, I was never optimistic on ferrari’s behalf, even when hamilton had that problem in qualifying I thought: “have to say several stuff is going wrong for hamilton, this MIGHT be vettel’s year, also thinking about austria and australia”, but I always thought it was gonna be close at best, not title over in germany.

  8. His overall campaign just didn’t cut it. But the car could have done it. Ferrari will have a chance again with Leclerc. Personally I don’t think Seb has what it takes, but Leclerc looks promising. Hopefully Leclerc is enough. Only other options would be Rosberg or Alonso, but those are not very realistic.

  9. Actually I think Kimi is the backup plan. Should Charles not deliver, Kimi is just a few dozen meter down the paddock. I’d be surprised if such a clause is not in Mimi’s and Charles’s next year contract. For all his passivity this year he still delivered enough points to marginally still keep Ferrari in the title fight.

    1. Yeh if Charles doesnt deliver they can always get Kimi back and remove the “if”.

  10. If Ferrari has any brains left, they should be begging Alonso to come back.
    After all, it’s not like Alonso was underperforming. It was always about the team making an absolute dog of a car, year after year. To think that the 2010 car was actually the best one they had during his time…

    1. I consider parking a working car when you get tired of driving for the day as underperforming.

      Alonso has an attitude problem, there’s no way around it.
      … I’d hire Leclerc too.

      1. Replacing raikkonen with leclerc might be an upgrade if leclerc isn’t worse than everyone thinks, but replacing vettel with alonso surely would be an upgrade, just too many mistakes.

  11. Ferraris performance slump in Singapore aint worse than Mercedes this weekend. Driver error and the teams clear lack of focus is the defining moments nothing else.

    1. I cannot disagree with this, @rethla.
      Especially since I posted something very similar above ;)

  12. Singapore the defining moment? Hmm, you could say that, but to me the defining moment in the championship fight was the surprise defeat in Monza, not Singapore. After Seb had won in Spa, Ferrari could have had 1-2 victory in Monza and he (probably) could have won the race by swapping places with Kimi at some point in the race. Instead, he clashed with Hamilton in the opening lap and when Kimi was alone against both Mercs, Lewis got the win and extended his lead. Seeing Vettel make such amateurish mistakes again and again during the last two years has made me wonder is he even worthy of those championships he won during his Red Bull time. No offense, but I’ve come to respect Hamilton more than Vettel in the last two years, because Lewis seems to get the best out of himself when it really matters. Seems like his defeat in 2016 to Rosberg has made him even more determined and better driver than he was before. And no, I’m not a Hamilton fan and I’ll never be one.

    1. I think I agree with you that Vettel won those championships because of the car he was in and not because he was the winning factor. But I am also sure that a lot of other championships have been won because of that factor.

      1. Indeed, take hakkinen for example, no way he’d have won 1998 without that car, or villeneuve 1997, schumacher was by far the best driver in those years and only dominant cars for his opponents held him back.

  13. I think Lewis’ winning of the WDC started at the British GP, where he finished second, one place behind Sebastian. I know that sounds odd, but winning the WDC isn’t just about winning races, it is also about minimising the gains your competitors have over you, and second place meant a net gain of 7 points to Sebastian. This wasn’t an easy achievement because Lewis was running last in the race at one stage. It took a lot of hard work, although an easy pass on Valtteri did help him to finish second.

    1. although an easy pass on Valtteri did help him to finish second.

      That’s a way to put it ;)

  14. I thought Lewis was really rattled after Silverstone, but the combination of kimi questioning team orders or them not being given strongy enough in Germany put SV on the back foot… then into the barrier, giving LH the opportunity to win and Merc issuing team orders to bottas to hold station, actualy a very Ferrari thing to do.
    The wet weather again hands LH the advantage in Hungary again….. but no major panic from Ferrari you would assume.
    However in Belgium SV walked it, and you would have thought Monza would be the same – it looked hard for LH to win the title at this stage as Monza looked like it would be a repeat of Spa at best and then onto Merc bogey tract in singapore.
    Kimi again didnt play the team game, SV was obviously very irate on the radio after pole was decided…… this then leads to SV going off on lap 1…. and Merc take Monza !!! Game is now on, although Merc are crap at singapore … no ferrari alarm bells yet?
    Surprise LH won in Singapore and THEN merc use team orders to gift him Russia…. and Japan effectively means game over.
    I think SV had it won in Silverstone, LH seemed broken…… but a combination of Kimi, poor use of team orders, SV under undue pressure making mistakes and the update driving them backwards just killed it for Ferrari.
    As an aside, can we assume Merc updates werent as successful as the results made it seem because actually Ferrari were going backwards?

  15. Mercedes was the quickest car from the start of the year. Vettel only built a lead based on Mercedes blunders and brilliant driving like in Bahrain where he managed to keep the much faster Bottas behind him.

    Races like Hockenheim and Spa where Ferrari had a speed advantage (in Vettel’s hands) were outliers.

    1. @anon

      You seem like the kind of person that would believe Red Bull wasn’t the fastest car from 2010 to 2013 and it was only Vettel’s driving that won them the 4 WDCs.

      1. 7 drivers won the first 7 races of 2012. How many different drivers have won races in the hybrid era? Less than 7.

        2010 had 5 drivers in contention for championship with 3 races left. Massa wasn’t allowed to win races when Alonso was his teammate (much like Bottas now at Mercedes).

        At least Vettel’s never had a number two who has had to move over for him and gift him races.

        1. After the first half of the season in 2012, it was Red bull again with the overall strongest package. That’s not even debatable, it’s a fact.

          The only reason 2010 was so close wa becuase Vettel wasn’t good enough to dominate in that machine.

          At least Vettel’s never had a number two who has had to move over for him and gift him races

          Vettel ends up putting it in a wall after his teammate let him by. If he can’t accept a gift.. That’s Vettels problem.

          1. Vettel was in his third full season in 2010. Regularly beating Webber in his second full season.

            In Alonso’s third season he was getting beaten by Trulli.

            The final races of 2010 showed that Vettel had been the most impressive driver of that season and the most worthy champion.

            Alonso basically choked in Abu Dhabi.

  16. Ferrari had a speed advantage in:


    And there was nothing to choose at GB

    So of the 20 races this year, Ferrari were better or equal to Mercedes at 10 venues.

    But sure, “Outliers”

    I’ll see you in the 5th Circle of scientific hell. Those who “cleaned up” their results by excluding inconvenient data points are condemned here. Demons pluck out their hairs one by one, each time explaining that the sinner is better off without that hair, because there was something wrong with it.

    1. It’s difficult to be scientific because there’s no control group to determine who is fast and who has a fast car. You can only beat your teammate which Vettel and Lewis both did handily.

      However like you I am inclined to believe that the Ferrari has been about as fast as the Mercedes this year; you can tell by the way it looks on the circuit as well as objective performance. I also think Germany was the defining moment of the championship battle, a huge swing to Hamilton both in points and psychologically.

      1. @sleepywill
        Thankfully we don’t need to be too scientific to figure out that crashing out of the lead or spinning 5 times in self-induced collisions, is bad for your WDC score.
        So really, no need to overanalyze. He lost the championship because he made a plethora of mistakes.

        1. @Biggsy & @James – I was responding to @anon above (you know this site and replying to the last comment!)

    2. Ferrari had a speed advantage in:

      Bahrain – Mercedes were quicker in the race. Bottas was chasing down Vettel it was only great desperate driving by Vettel that kept Bottas behind. Hamilton underperformed.
      China – Again Mercedes much quicker in the race. Anyway, Vettel’s race undone by Verstappen slamming into him. Bottas would have cruised to victory if not for the timing of the safety car which allowed RBR to gamble on tyre strategy.
      Azerbaijan – Ferrari had an edge there.
      Monaco – RBR quickest there.
      Canada – I’m not sure about a Ferrari edge there. Vettel got pole only a tenth ahead of Bottas and beat Bottas by 7 seconds in the race. Vettel is more than 7 seconds better than Bottas over a 300km race. So probably Mercedes quicker if anything.
      Germany – Ferrari had edge. Unlucky with timing of rain, plus Vettel’s race ruined because Ferrari wouldn’t move Kimi over despite him being on a different strategy and much slower than Vettel. Stupid of Ferrari when they’re up against a Mercedes team that routinely sabotage Bottas to help their team leader.
      Hungary – Turned out Mercedes had the edge. Qualifying conditions suited them to lock out the front row, Bottas was used to destroy Vettel’s race.
      Spa – Ferrari had the edge.
      Mexico – RBR was quickest. Mercedes had lost one of the tricks on their car.

    3. @sleepywill

      I would add Monza and Singapore to that list. None of the Ferrari drivers managed to put in a stellar quali lap in Singapore even though they had the better car, and that’s what made the difference. None of the drivers capitalised on a grid 1-2 in Monza either.

      Out of the 19 races so far. I would think Ferrari was faster at at least 11 of the circuits.

  17. As usual, there are hugely divided opinions about Vettel’s and Ferrari’s campaign this year.
    My take for what it’s worth is that it was mainly Vettel that made the difference for Ferrari’s performance when in came to those last few tenths that had them rated as being the faster car.
    However to do so he had to have the thing right at the edge almost all of the time. He also didn’t have the calm, calculated team of engineers and strategists,that Mercedes have.
    The Mercedes was always competitive and driven by Hamilton with the support of his team was always going to require “exceptional” on all fronts.
    Sadly, I don’t think that’s what Ferrari had. At the end of the day Vettel had to push too hard and take too many risks just to get to or stay in front.
    That’s the nature of F1, sometimes you can win with a car/driver/team combination that is nearly as good as the opposition. Sometimes it doesn’t work out.

    Vettel will be back in 2019 as driven as ever. Let’s just hope that their rest of Ferrari is as driven.

    1. My take for what it’s worth is that it was mainly Vettel that made the difference for Ferrari’s performance when in came to those last few tenths that had them rated as being the faster car.


      Disagree completely. Being the #1 driver at Ferrari, with the entire team working on one side of the garage for an entire year, is worth a few tenths in itself. That’s what the Ferrari #1 brings with him every single race weekend. Giving Vettel undue credit by saying he’s the one bringing those extra few tenths just doesn’t seem justified to me.

      A more accurate benchmark would be to compare how both the #2s performed to see which car was better. I rate Bottas higher than Kimi in terms of pace and consistency, and in the same machinery, I’d expect Bottas to beat him. Yet, Bottas is trailing Kimi on points this season and has looked struggled more than Kimi has this season. If we were to rate the cars based on the #2 drivers, you’d have to say Ferrari was the quicker and more reliable car.

      The Mercedes was always competitive and driven by Hamilton with the support of his team was always going to require “exceptional” on all fronts.
      Sadly, I don’t think that’s what Ferrari had.

      Sadly, I don’t think that’s what Vettel had.
      Sorry man… but we’ve seen Ferrari drivers in the past fight a whole lot harder and closer for the championship with a far weaker Ferrari team. This year, you can’t blame Ferrari much. This was Vettel letting the team down. There are drivers who would have taken the fight and probably the championship in the current Ferrari. You can say Vettel was under pressure or had to drive on edge all the time etc. … but the fact of the matter is that there are drivers that would have done a better job than Vettel in those same circumstances.

  18. Hoenstly I only care about team championships.
    Just want Ferrari to finally win because they have the best machine.

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