Sebastian Vettel insists he isn’t frustrated by Ferrari’s wayward post-midseason upgrade rollout break and instead wants to look ahead to finishing the season with a better understanding of what went wrong.
Vettel’s championship campaign has faltered on a series of driver errors, but a mysterious evaporation of pace from his Ferrari machine after the European season only compounded his woes by opening the door to Lewis Hamilton on consolidate what is now an almost insurmountable lead.
The German faced championship point at last weekend’s United States Grand Prix, but the Scuderia suddenly rediscovered its form, which Vettel afterwards revealed to be down to the team removing “three or four months” worth of updates from the car. Kimi Raikkonen subsequently scored a memorable first win in almost six seasons.
But Vettel’s title chances hang by only the most tenuous of threads. Hamilton need finish only seventh at this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix to claim the crown if Vettel wins the race; if Sebastian finishes second or lower, Lewis wins the championship regardless of where he finishes.
Facing championship oblivion, Vettel told assembled media in Mexico City that he was focused on ensuring the same development mistakes aren’t repeated.
“I think we need to look forward,” he said. “It is important that we are starting to understand what didn’t work or was not as good as before.
“I think it was important to go a step back to understand some things, but the main thing is we keep moving forward.
“The last couple of days have been quite important, the last weeks also, and we have started to understand a bit more so we try to move forward.”
Ferrari saw its 2017 title campaign likewise collapse after a spate of reliability issues late in 2017, but Vettel defended the team in the face of another defeat.
“I mean, the cars are very complex so it is not that easy,” he insisted. “If it was easy, then everybody would always get everything right — as a matter of fact no-one does.
“It is not always easy to understand everything straight away so, as I said, the last weeks and the last days we have been very busy.
“It is important we had the laps that we got in Austin, starting to understand what is going on. We haven’t yet understood everything, which I think is normal, so there is still a lot of work to do.”
The German added that the title is won over the course of an entire season, not decided in the last few rounds.
“I think you should always look at it as a championship won by the driver who scores more points than anyone else,” he said. “In the end of the day you need to ask yourself if you have always been in the position to get the result that you needed and you wanted.
“We had races where we were very competitive and we had races where we were not, so I think in the end of the season you look at the points you have, you add the up and then you know yourself first what has been missing or not.”