Scuderia Ferrari German driver Sebastian Vettel admitted that the Maranello team’s goal for the final races of the 2018 Formula 1 season is now to prove it is better than recent disastrous grands prix suggested.
Ferrari appeared to hold the edge in the championship battle at mid-season, but its campaign has collapsed in a string of driver and operational errors that opened the door for Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton to win six of the last seven races.
Last weekend’s Japanese GP was a new low, with Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene hitting out at his own team for an “unacceptable” error in gambling on intermediates on a dry track in qualifying. Hamilton can now claim the title in the next race in the United States, having gone from an eight-point deficit to Sebastian to a 67-point lead in seven races.
The German driver acknowledged Ferrari had thrown a big opportunity away, but insisted it is a better team that it has recently looked: “I think we have great potential in this team,” he said – “Obviously the last weeks have been tough for us overall, and we could be in a better place. We are not. So that happened for a reason. But we look forward, and even if the last weeks have been difficult, the spirit inside the team, if you look at the guys and so on, it is incredible how powerful they are, how strong they are, how positive they are throughout. That made this team always very strong, and will make this team strong in the next race and in the future. So, we know that we still have a lot of potential to unleash and we need to work and dig a little bit deeper and so on. But for now obviously, we want to prove the last [recent] races are not what we can do.”
Sebastian Vettel’s team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, who finished fifth in Japan, said it was important that Ferrari ‘tidied’ a few things up operationally: “Obviously we need to go through things and it was difficult weekend overall,” said Raikkonen – “We improved during the weekend, and it was getting better and better. If you look purely at the result, it wasn’t what we wanted but that is how it goes sometimes. We go to the next race and look for good things and hopefully put them where we are more happy and be up there. We need to tidy up things and hopefully get a bit more of a cleaner weekend.” – Kimi added.
Sebastian Vettel said Ferrari had discussed its Suzuka qualifying mess immediately after the session and would do so further, but urged against dwelling on it: “There is not much point going through it for another week or two,” he said.