Outgoing Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel insists his time at Ferrari amounted to failure, denying that pressure played such a role as some have suggested.
Vettel joined Ferrari in 2015 with the intention of winning a championship, and at this he most certainly failed, the German proving unable to win a title at the team in six campaigns, albeit often receiving little help from Ferrari machinery consistently slower than that of a dominant, Mercedes.
The four-time F1 champion, however, nonetheless became Ferrari’s third winningest driver in his time at the team, and returned it to competitiveness in 2017 to mount two serious championship challenges in that year, and the subsequent season.
It is in spite of this that Vettel says his time at Ferrari was a failure, though he acknowledges there were some high points in his tenure. “We’ve still failed,” he said to media including F1, Motorsport Network, Racefans.net and more. “We had the ambition and target to win the championship. And we didn’t, so I think it’s just an honest reflection.
“I don’t think saying it out loud changes anything. We were up against a very strong team/driver combination, one of the strongest we’ve seen so far. But our goal was to be stronger than that. And in this regard, we have failed. Like I said, there are reasons for it. We’ve had good races, bad races, we’ve got close, sometimes we’re far away. There’s a lot of reasons why, but in the big picture, I think it’s not unfair, it’s just the truth. Nothing wrong with saying it out loud,” Vettel said.
The German also denies that pressure mounted on him after his repeated title losses as Fernando Alonso had said of his time at the Italian outfit. His failure to win a championship has frequently been attributed, in part or in full, to pressure from within the team, and from media and fans alike.
“I don’t know if I buy into the pressure thing, I think pressure you put on yourself,” said Vettel. “So as I said, I had the clear mission and target to win. I think I have obviously an emotional attachment to the team, growing up seeing Michael win, etc. So it was a very special moment when I joined the team.
“But the pressure thing, I think also the fact that you know, the pressure in Italy, the fans and so on, yes, it is there. But ultimately I always set the highest sort of expectations on myself, and I think I was the first and best judge if I didn’t achieve them. So rest assured when I stuffed the car in the gravel in Germany [in 2018] that I wasn’t happy before the tifosi weren’t happy. I think it sounds nice, and it adds a little bit of drama to everything. But I’m definitely not holding that as an excuse for coming short here and there.
“I think if you are ambitious to win, and you have the target to win and to succeed, then you’re the first one to realise that yourself, and it isn’t depending on the pressure from outside. But having said everybody’s different. So maybe in Fernando’s time it was very different, and maybe he felt it in a different way. But for me it wasn’t the one thing holding us or holding me back,” Vettel said as he leaves Ferrari for Aston Martin.
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