Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Interlagos, 2018

Vettel admits he wasn’t “at the top of my game” in 2018

2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel admitted he wasn’t at his best in 2018 after being beaten to the drivers’ championship by Lewis Hamilton.

A series of mid-season errors by the Ferrari driver boosted Hamilton’s lead in the championship, which he won with two races to spare.

“I don’t think I ever had any problems raising my hand if I made a mistake,” said Vettel/ “Knowing as well, as a racing driver, how quickly things can go wrong, how things could have gone differently this year, I think I have to review a couple of things.

“But there’s other things that I think went wrong and don’t need a lot of reviewing and not over-complicating things too much. I think I know what I need to do.

“Certainly, here and there, looking back I haven’t been at the top of my game so I look at myself first. I think I can be better than I was at times this year.

“Having said that though, I think we also had a lot of races where we got everything out of the car and the package and I felt that I did everything I could. I was happy with that. But that’s how it goes, that’s sometimes why you love racing and sometimes why you hate racing. For now I need a bit of time just to shut things down.”

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Vettel admitted there is also room for improvement at Ferrari after the team suffered a slump in performance in the races before Hamilton sealed the championship.

“It’s a big operation, so a lot of small things need to come together but I think everybody’s there,” he said. “We’ve mentioned it many times.

“Obviously we lost our path a little bit halfway through the year. Things didn’t come together. Obviously we did a step back towards the end of the year which enabled us to be more competitive again. I think we’ve understood what went wrong, we obviously try to do a better job in the future, that was one key thing.

“On the other hand I think we had a lot of lessons, it was a tough year in general. I think the team is strong and the team has potential but surely it was a lot of things that happened inside the team.”

The death of Ferrari president and CEO Sergio Marchionne in July “obviously had an impact and was tough”, Vettel added.

“I think it’s up to us to look into every single detail and make sure we come out as a stronger group, enabling us to build a stronger package for next year and for the future.”

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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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44 comments on “Vettel admits he wasn’t “at the top of my game” in 2018”

  1. Good to hear a frank and honest assessment of himself, and the team. I wish to see them come back and take the challenge to Mercedes in 2019.

    1. Seb was exposed Ric when was his team mate, as driver who cracks under pressure and this he showed it again and again since.
      I would rate many drivers above Seb, he is good when leading but not the complete driver when under pressure, Seb is very lucky to have a sweet contract at Ferrari, l can see more tantrums when the Frenchman serves it up to him in 2019 and outshines him..and it will be interesting to watch how Ferrari manages Sebs downfall as number 1 driver..that is my prediction.

    2. I guess it is good to hear yeah, @phylyp. But realy is it that frank and honest – for the current, probably, but this line

      “I don’t think I ever had any problems raising my hand if I made a mistake,” said Vettel

      from Vettel?? Who is he fooling?

  2. My end of season rankings as follows:
    20. Stroll
    19. Vandoorne
    18. Sirotkin
    17. Hartley
    16. Ericsson
    15. Grosjean
    14. Magnussen
    13. Bottas
    12. Ocon
    11. Alonso
    10. Sainz
    9. Gasly
    8. Perez
    7. Leclerc
    6. Hulkenberg
    5. Ricciardo
    4. Vettel
    3. Raikkonen
    2. Verstappen
    1. Hamilton

    Lets see how my rankings compare with others

    1. I’d definitely put Magnussen higher.

    2. I can’t believe anyone would rate Kimi above Sebastian. As far as I could tell from the season, Kimi was nowhere near the championship fight.

      Vettel seems to get more criticism despite being the driver actually taking the fight to Mercedes. It’s infuriating.

      1. @john-h – agreed. Vettel did poorer than was his norm. Kimi did better than was his norm. But to assume that their performances crossed over as a result is quite unfair.

      2. I think Ricciardo deserves to be higher than Kimi. While Max was faster in qualifying, Danny Ric was usually on the pace in the race.

    3. I’d have Alonso a lot higher, he single handedly got McLaren 6th in the Constructers championship wilst driving a terrible car. McLaren actually finshed ahead of Sauber and Torro Rosso, thats pretty incredible.

      I’d also drop Ricciardo a few places, he’s been nowhere the 2nd half of the season, but Hulkenburg one place behind has had to fight for the scraps every chance he could to win best of the rest.

    4. @prarag-chopra

      20. Stroll
      19. Bottas
      18. Sirotkin
      17. Hartley
      16. Ericsson
      15. Magnussen
      14. Grosjean
      13. Vandoorne
      12. Ocon
      11. Sainz
      10. Gasly
      9. Perez
      8. Hulkenberg
      7. Leclerc
      6. Vettel
      5. Ricciardo
      4. Alonso
      3. Hamilton
      2. Raikkonen
      1. Verstappen

      My rough table. Given the equipment they were using.
      Hamilton should have dominated all of the races really, as Schumacher, Senna, Prost and Mansell pretty much did with this quality car.
      Verstappen’s inpatience leading to mistakes is due to age not lack of talent, Lewis’ nose put out of joint this season, wait til Max has more incidents under his belt.
      Vettel has never really shown any pressure when he’s had the best car in the past, also beat Hamilton in not the quickest car before, he obviously didn’t have one this season.
      Alonso is just a trooper doesn’t matter what he drives, he makes his mistakes and hindering emotions during off-circuit politics.
      Bottas, waste of a young Mercedes driver seat. Then again the ideal driver to avoid another Rosberg upset scenario.

      1. So easy to forget how Hamilton was average earlier in the year. Something goes missing with him for a short period in every season he’s raced.
        Raikkonen at his age, picking himself up and showing the same speed if not faster than Hamilton in some races, a better defender of position than Hamilton. A great asset for Sauber if the team moves up a notch.

        1. @Big Joe to have Verstappen 1st after the multitude of mistakes he first 6 races is an absolute joke.

      2. Big joe… i can only assume you’re a troll…?

      3. Raikkonen fanboy. He won 1 race, his teammate won 5 times as many races.

        I would love to know how you came to the conclusion that he deserves to be 4 places higher.

    5. 20. Stroll
      19. Vandoorne
      18. Sirotkin
      17. Hartley
      16. Grosjean
      15. Bottas
      14. Ericsson
      13. Ocon
      12. Sainz
      11. Magnussen
      10. Perez
      9. Gasly
      8. Raikkonen
      7. Ricciardo
      6. Vettel
      5. Alonso
      4. Hulkenberg
      3. Verstappen
      2. Leclerc
      1. Hamilton

      Hamilton – especially since Hockenheim – was on another level.
      Leclerc in the Sauber really amazed me this year – almost any single race.
      Verstappen was impressive in the 2nd half of the season.
      Hulkenberg – F1.5 Champion

      1. @banana88x Good list. I might swap round Verstappen and Leclerc. Verstappen made a lot more mistakes but was also spectacular at times.

    6. Red bull put there support 100% behind max thats why all of the sudden after three years he started getting an advantage over ricciardo, funny how as soon as ricciardo announcement to leave max started beating ricciardo more often

  3. Throwing the team under the bus is a very bad thing especially when it has been done way too many times over past 2 years by same person. And hindsight is always 20/20 which is such a funny thing.

    1. “Certainly, here and there, looking back I haven’t been at the top of my game so I look at myself first. I think I can be better than I was at times this year.”

      Seems fairly balanced and reflective to me.

      1. I was referring to interview given after qualifying.

        “If we do our job really, really well and we work together then we have a chance of finishing higher up,”

  4. I think these past two seasons can be a growing experience for vettel if he is truly willing to take the lessons from these. He has been prone to having tantrums when things don’t go his way and sometimes he has made stupid mistakes on track that have resulted more pain for him than necessary. Some of his mistakes also felt like they were driven by frustration or having to prove something. Like his spin in monza or his altercation with verstappen. Many times he should have been more protective of his championship than his ego.

    He can grow from this if he can fix his issues. He can become stronger in 2019 and if ferrari can build another fast car then vettel could be the part of the ferrari that doesn’t break. But he won’t win 2019 if he doesn’t step up his game. This year he gave hamilton pretty easy path to victory. If he can push hamilton more next year then we will also see more mistakes from hamilton. But vettel needs to make fewer mistakes himself too.

    1. @socksolid +1 to your comment. In my opinion, I don’t think his mistakes were driven by ego (or to prove something), but by desperation/the need to quickly start fighting for the race lead.

      My unfounded fear is that Vettel isn’t likely to come back stronger, but I do hope he proves me wrong. And I also hope that Leclerc quickly finds his feet in the Ferrari.

      1. Ego? In an F1 driver? Blasphemy!

    2. I agree. Lewis’ learning was probably during 2011-2015 when he didn’t have all these titles. Perhaps Seb’s Time is now during 2016-2018. I do expect him to come back next year. His performances were already good in the last final 3 races, mitigating those mistakes. His assessment was fair.

  5. Finally about time, LOL.

  6. Well, obviously :).
    Jokes aside, there´s was a time, between Silverstone, Germany (and even after that race) and SPA, that Vettel could still be infront and that was the general impresion. Ferrari was strong and Mercedes a little back at times and seems couldn´t do anything to close the gap. And in those moments Hamilton puts the most impresive performances that sealed the championship(pole and victory in Hungary, pole and victory in Singapore, and the race victory in Monza), and seems a little overshadowed with the Vettel mistakes.

  7. The amount of “I think” and “obviously” this man can produce per minute is impressive

  8. Reading the excellent article by Andrew Benson on Alonso recently, you can confirm Ferrari are hyper sensitive to criticism. It wouldn’t surprise me if they’ve asked Vettel to tone things down a little bit with regards to them not building a quick enough car and dropping the ball for 2 seasons in a row.
    The saying goes ‘nobody is bigger than Ferrari’ but sadly for them both Schumacher and Alonso were. You could also say Ferrari were not even the Ferrari we knew before and since, when under Ross Brawn and Todt. Alonso’s biggest career mistake was thinking their legacy would last more than a couple of years. As Eddie Irvine once said, you can pick a Newey or Brawn team and almost be guaranteed success.

    1. Ferrari and Vettel have only themselves to blame. The car was quick enough, and if they had extracted the max results on a consistent basis they should have won the title.

      If Benson’s article is to be believe, he mentions that sources at Maranello are quite sure that Ferrari would have won the drivers if Alonso was in the car. Why not?

      1. (@jaymenon10) I agree with Benson. It does not mean that Lewis is not worthy but just that he was also very lucky and took the cards dealt to him and played them as only a world champ can and as such deserves every bit of it. In a tight situation whos to say the old 2007 Alonso would not have emerged in some way or other? I think the right man won WDC

        1. @macradar

          I agree that Lewis took the opportunities given to him, but I suspect his current levels of Zen would not have been achieved with Nico in the other car.

          I think Alonso has proven time and again that he can deliver when the pressure is on. 2007 was a one off, too many things came to a head. Alonso has proven over the last 7 years or so that he can get the max out of any car he’s driven.

  9. My 2018 list, and hey, I may tend to overcompensate for the machinery level (while almost everybody does the opposite). It’s just my 2c, hoping nobody takes it personal.

    20. Stroll
    19. Sirotkin
    18. Bottas
    17. Vandoorne
    16. Grosjean
    15. Raikkonen
    14. Hartley
    13. Vettel
    12. Ericsson
    11. Hamilton
    10. Gasly
    9. Ocon
    8. Gasly
    7. Perez
    6. Sainz
    5. Ricciardo
    4. Hulkenberg
    3. Verstappen
    2. Alonso
    1. Leclerc

    1. Hamilton as high as 11th? Are you sure about that?

      1. Why not, had a decent 2nd half of the year. Can’t say the same about the first half

        1. Oh right, it’s supposed to be based on actual performance. I thought it was just a list of who you like least to most.

          1. Why, not. I do not like or dislike Leclerc, he’s been simply the best out there. Beware, Seb Vettel, remember 2014 with Dan Ricciardo as your teammate, right after your 4 WDCs? You need to raise your game, or next year it might be even worse.

        2. @ hyoko

          Can’t say the same about the first half

          If that is the case, how an earth can you have Verstappen that high up then? His first half was awful even by Max’s own words. Max was a handful of points ahead of Alonso in that dog of a Mclaren by the time we got to Monaco? No consistency in your ratings whatsoever.

          1. You are welcome to give us your own rating if you don’t appreciate mine. And I agree to disagree. Surely everybody has a different rating, and it would be awfully boring otherwise. But if you are trying to convince me that Emilian did worse than Carl Davidson, you are wasting your time.

          2. @hyoko-

            Just pointing out the inconsistencies in your logic that’s all. You are welcome to maintain your contradictory views, obviously.

    2. Edit : Gasly shows twice! —> 8th Gasly, 10th Magnussen

      1. Hyoko, I’m all for a ranking which is more harsh towards the drivers who had the best cars, however there’s a stark difference in how the red bull drivers are ranked by your ranking.

        20. Stroll
        19. Sirotkin
        18. Bottas
        17. Vandoorne
        16. Grosjean
        15. Raikkonen
        14. Hartley
        13. Vettel
        12. Ericsson
        11. Hamilton
        10. Magnussen
        9. Ocon
        8. Gasly
        7. Perez
        6. Sainz
        5. Ricciardo
        4. Hulkenberg
        3. Verstappen
        2. Alonso
        1. Leclerc

        Bottas was probably the worst of the drivers with best cars, ok, then raikkonen, ok, then vettel, ok, he made lots of mistakes.

        However hamilton would be much worse than ricciardo who would be slightly worse than verstappen, I can agree on the 2nd point but not with the first, hamilton ofc had a couple of slow races like always early in the season, but he made little to no mistakes, that’s too close to vettel who as you might well know, has an impressive list of mistakes and none of the 2 looks clearly faster than the other, at least in races.

        Like the other poster said, verstappen made far too many mistakes in the first part of the season, I don’t see how he can be in front of hamilton, who made a lot less, even if the 2nd part of verstappen was outstanding.

      2. So the question is pretty simple: are you including verstappen’s races up to and including monaco in the ranking? If so, how can he manage to stay so high?

        Example at school, if you get 3 very bad marks, say a 3, and a couple of 4, you can get as many 10s as you like later on, you won’t get a decent average like someone who consistently gets 9.

  10. Undoubtedly, the years of knowing that even 2nd place in races were not good enough for the championship caused unnecessary focus on maximizing every single situation and with it came the mistakes.

    It will be ironic and a big blow if Vettel should drive more tempered and then lose out because of it. IMO he should continue this full-on attack, just shave off 1%. I mean he’s getting good at it, lot’s of practice now.

  11. Seb has simply lost that eye of the tiger.. His also had his wings clipped and it doesn’t suit him. If he doesn’t do the business next year his days at Ferrari are numbered.

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