Sebastian Vettel says he looks at his six years with Ferrari as a failure after he missed out on winning the Formula One championship with the team.
Vettel joined with high expectations in 2015 but, despite 14 wins over six seasons, was unable to win a fifth world championship to add to the four he secured with Red Bull.
He came closest in 2017 and 2018, when Ferrari appeared to have a car capable of winning the title, but never entered the final round with a shot at winning.
This weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be Vettel’s last race with the team before moving to Racing Point for 2021 ahead of its rebranding to Aston Martin.Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari career will end after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Mark Sutton – Pool/Getty Images
When asked whether he took any comfort from being Ferrari’s third-most successful driver in terms of race victories, and the fact he went up against the dominant Mercedes outfit, Vettel did not change his mood.
“It still doesn’t change anything,” he replied. “We still failed.
“We had the ambition and target to win the championship, and we didn’t. 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, but our goal was to be stronger than that and in that regard we failed. There are reasons for it; we had good races, bad races, sometimes were close, sometimes were far away.
“There’s a lot of reasons why, but in the big picture… I don’t think it’s unfair, it’s just the truth, nothing wrong with saying it out loud.”
Vettel’s error-riddled 2017 and 2018 campaigns are often seen as missed opportunities for the German driver, who lost the title to Lewis Hamilton on both occasions.
Notably, his unforced error at the 2018 German Grand Prix, when he crashed out of the lead in the rain, is seen as a key turning point in his time at Ferrari.
On whether that was a fair assumption, Vettel said: “No, I think it was pretty much a roller-coaster ride over the years with a lot of things happening. In terms of momentum in that year, it wasn’t helping.
“The mistake was a little mistake, with a huge outcome, a huge penalty. There were definitely more things happening.
“In the ’18 season, we had the passing of [Ferrari president] Mr. [Sergio] Marchionne, the changing of leadership from Maurizio [Arrivabene] to Mattia [Binotto], so maybe the ’18 season was decisive for many things, but I don’t know if you can really break it down to only one thing.”
“In 2016 we parted ways with James [Allison, Ferrari technical director] because of personal conflicts at the time. Looking back, there were a lot of things that we should have and could have done better. Everything happened for a reason, so the main thing from my side was to make sure I learned from it.
“I think I have grown from it. Some were moments on the track, Germany in Hockenheim, other moments were off the track. Overall I feel much more comfortable or in a better place now than those years ago, but certainly at the time it hasn’t always been easy and straightforward.”
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