Scuderia Ferrari German driver Sebastian Vettel is confident that he can overturn a 30-point deficit to Lewis Hamilton in the Formula One drivers’ championship and can still win the 2018 title. The German’s chances were dented in Italy earlier in September when he came off worse in a first-lap clash with Hamilton and he ended up finishing fourth at his team’s home race while his rival triumphed.
No driver since Fernando Alonso in 2012 has had as big a lead in the standings as defending champion Hamilton has built up and not gone on to finish the season as No 1. But Sebastian Vettel is upbeat he can bounce back at Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix and begin his bid to cut the deficit to his fellow four-time world champion rival.
“I think we have the pace,” the German said. “The points sound a lot, but actually it doesn’t take a long time to get them down.”
Scuderia Ferrari have often been the fastest package on raw pace in races this season, but a mixture of errors by Vettel, his team and other misfortunes have helped Hamilton move clear. However, Sebastian said he was determined to put the past behind him and focus simply on winning at Marina Bay Circuit for a fourth time in his career: “I am turning the page and focusing on Singapore – I like the place and I am happy to go there.” – he added.
Sebastian Vettel won there with Ferrari in 2015 and then took pole position last season. But he was involved in a crash with teammate Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen at the start, gifting the race victory to Hamilton. Mercedes, despite winning in Singapore in three of the past four years, have often struggled for pace at the venue and Hamilton has not qualified on the front row there since 2014. Toto Wolff, the Mercedes team principal, acknowledged that his team were expecting a tough weekend from both Ferrari and Red Bull: “Singapore has features that we’ve struggled with in the past,” said Wolff – “The short straights, the slow, tight corners and the bumpy surface all make the Marina Bay Street Circuit one of the trickiest for us. On paper, the track should favour the Ferraris, but the championship fight is so close that predictions are almost meaningless.”
However, the lack of any long straights at the venue means engine power is less vital then at most other tracks on the calendar, and Red Bull are confident they can be a factor at the front. The team have won three times this season, but Monaco in May, which shares a similar layout to Singapore, was a venue where they were the fastest package and Daniel Ricciardo triumphed.