Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Yas Marina, 2019

Vettel aiming for small improvements and fewer mistakes in 2020

2019 F1 season

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Sebastian Vettel accepts he needs to improve following his disappointing 2019 campaign, but believes he only needs to make minor changes to his approach.

The Ferrari driver ended the season behind Charles Leclerc in the championship and scored fewer wins, pole positions and podiums than his team mate. His season was also marked by some notable errors, including a spin while fighting with Lewis Hamilton in Bahrain, a collision with Max Verstappen in Britain, another spin in Italy and a crash with Leclerc in Brazil.

“I’ve had a couple of mistakes that I shouldn’t make,” Vettel admitted after Sunday’s season finale in Abu Dhabi. But he’s also aware he needs to improve his performances.

“I’m just being honest. I feel like I’ve always done all I can do. I have been around for long enough and I’m honest enough to admit that I should have done a better job. I know that there’s more from my side.

“I look at myself first, address all the points that I feel need to addressed in myself. There’s things I can do better that I know I can do better. That’s the first thing I look at and obviously try to improve that next year.”

However Vettel doesn’t believe he needs to make a fundamental change in his approach to F1. “I don’t think [it’s] rocket science,” he said. “It’s always in the details, small adjustments, nothing big or major. I don’t need to drive differently, I know how to drive.”

“For sure I’m not doing the same stuff that I was 10 years ago,” he added. “And I think that certainly here and there, there’s things you always feel you can improve in.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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41 comments on “Vettel aiming for small improvements and fewer mistakes in 2020”

  1. I am still hoping against hope that somehow, Vettel retires / is fired from Ferrari, Ricciardo triggers an exit clause to join as a replacement and Nico Hulkenburg makes a comeback to Renault. Similar to the Rosberg / Bottas / Massa situation at the end of 2016

    1. no way. why would Vettel do that and why would Ferrari do that? disagree

      1. Why would Ferrari do that? Indeed, they don’t. And thats why they fail for so many years in a row. They forget this is not Kindergarden, this is the pinnacle of motorsport. Vettel failed too many times. I am sure he is a great guy, but so is the guy taking care of the headsets for the team. I honestly dont understand why Ferrari keeps missing what is so clear to everyone else. Vettel has had 4 lucky, win from pole all the time, WDCs. He has never shown any wheel to wheel skills on F1 level. Why they hired him is a big question mark. But all could be well now with Leclerc nr 1 and Seb in the Kimi role. But he does need to be told he is not allowed to fight Leclerc anymore, just as Kimi and Massa and…

        1. Agree with some stuff, but… 2014 Silverstone, against ALO, some good skills on F1 level. And I can continue. Saying he has no racecraft, skills etc is another exaggeration. HAM messed up in Brazil too (quite childishly), nobody even remotely implied that he has mediocre racecraft skills, also in wet conditions in Germany when he’s presented as the (new/current) rainmaster… a race where VET made no mistake. Also, Ferrari hired him at the end of 2014 for a reason and I don’t see that as a mistake, agree tho that NOW they should be thinking seriously about how much time they should keep him. They messed up by keeping RAI too many years, should have dumped him after 2015 or 2016. For 2020 Ferrari seems OK because they have LEC, who’s ready to replace VET as a no.1. But if VET continues like this in 2020 (most likely, true), Ferrari should replace him without thinking twice.

          1. @mg1982 Silverstone 2014 was an utter disgrace for Vettel. Alonso was on somewhat older tyres while Vettel is on fresh rubber and ahead of Alonso. Then Alonso catches Vettel napping and somehow Alonso magically sneaks ahead. Now that is great race craft.

            So Vettel is driving a faster car, on fresher tyres, lost the position because he was napping and it costs him a ton of effort and wheel banging to get back in front of Alonso again. Yet somehow that is a show of great racecraft? From Alonso yes!!

            C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER …. Vettel gets beaten by his team mate. Ricciardo finishes comfortably on the podium.

            You also seem to fail to understand the difference between an “exception” and “the norm”. Vettel makes mistakes as per his “norm”. Hamilton makes them very rarely.

            Vettel had one demonstration of racecraft in 2014 (well he didn’t, but still you believe so) and Hamilton shows his great racecraft very often while Vettel shows his lack thereof rather often.

          2. @f1osaurus Not to mention that Vettel started the race 2nd, while Alonso started 19th, and had a 5-second penalty for being slightly ahead of his grid slot. And despite that, Vettel still managed to fall behind Alonso, and took way too much time to get past on tyres that were 10 laps younger. Not to mention that Alonso also had an issue with a stone being lodged in his rear wing that was costing him more grip. So yeah, the 2014 British GP really displays the gulf in racecraft between Vettel and Alonso.

  2. I don’t know what it’s been with Vettel this year. Even when he wasn’t making mistakes, in a few races his performance seem lacklustere. Almost as if he was satisfied with where he eventually finished the race and didn’t feel like making more of an effort.

    Yet he had some good drives, and we saw flashes of the old Seb. Yet, considering he was marked out as Hamilton’s chief rival at the start of the season, he’s never looked to be in contention for the majority of the season.

    To be frank, with the exception of one or two races, he’s not looked comfortable with the Ferrari this year. His spins in Bahrain and Monza were completely of his own making this year, losing the back end without a collision being involved.
    In somes ways, it’s been a repeat of 2014 with regards to how comfortable he was in the car or more accurately, how uncomfortable he seemed. He struggled to get the most out of the car, had difficultly handling an occasionally loose rear end and never quite got on top of the Ferrari’s quirks.

    He does need to pick up his game next year as all his performance this year has done this year is make him look like a great driver, but only a good racer. In some ways, he’s much like Button, when the car works right, when it’s set up to perfection and when the track is how he likes it, he’s more than capable for fighting for the win. But when one of those things is out of sync, he struggles.

    We’ve seen from his recovery drives that he’s more than capable of wheel to wheel racing, but what is it that goes wrong when the other driver isn’t so yielding such as Hamilton, Verstappen or even his own team mate?

  3. I know criticizing Vettel will be classified as Vettel-bashing, but really, any driver for Ferrari, particularly in what was the fastest car at a lot of the races this year, is a valid target for evaluation… Time and again, we read these comments from Vettel that he knows he’s made ‘a few’ mistakes but basically his driving is the same as ever, implying he was and still is at some supreme standard. It’s delusional. Really delusional. He was never a perfect driver. Fast but highly accident prone and poor at racing. And – and this is the core point – he has never worked to change that. He seems (self-)satisfied at the level he thinks he achieved. Very little self-criticism or drive to improve. That’s simply not the attitude of the best of any sport. Of course, if the results disproved him not being at the pinnacle, it would just be jarring. Apparently complacent but achieving the best in his field. But the results show the opposite. Spinning twice, untouched, in races? Piling into Verstappen? Taking both himself and his team mate out of race? And being beaten by Leclerc, much more comprehensively than the points show? I guess Ferrari are happy with this since they keep him on.

    1. I agree with you on many points.
      “For sure I’m not doing the same stuff that I was 10 years ago” Him crashing in to Charles in Brazil was very reminiscent of his crash with Webber. Seb doesn’t see this, which goes to show you how he looks at things.

  4. It would be best for everyone especially himself (excluding his diehard fans I guess) if he retired. He hasn’t been up to the challenge the last 5 years. His only win this year vs a spectacular teammate came with team’s help. He is better than the average F1 driver but he is by no means a Hamilton, Verstappen or Leclerc (and probably Ricciardo too).

    1. Fully agree. He is done. If he insists he could do a couple of years at Alfa or STR. A spot in one of the top 3 team is ridiculous given the field of players available. Only Ferrari is capable of making the mistake of letting him drive another year…. lucky Seb..

  5. He need to improve his ability to control pressure and cool. Otherwise…keep in spin.

  6. Can´t help it (and yes i know it’s somewhat nonsensical)….but aren’t the bits of this quote mutualy exclusive given his last season? Wouldn´t making fewer mistakes be a big improvement? :P

  7. Vettel has been trying too hard, in f1 you can’t make miracles. At least he has tried, on the other hand he would get a lot less flack from the uk media if he didn’t try. When he has had a small chance he goes all in. Look at sainz jr, spend your whole career being below avg as long as you make your better moments more memorable than your bad ones you are a top driver.

    1. Look at sainz jr, spend your whole career being below avg as long as you make your better moments more memorable than your bad ones you are a top driver.

      What are you on about. The guy just beat 2 guys who had a RED BULL at their disposal for half a season each and for the rest a Torro Rosso which has been in the same speed class as the McLaren.

      Chatting nonsense as usual don’t you ever take a moment to actually think about the verbal diarreah you eject before you spew it.

      1. “Torro Rosso which has been in the same speed class as the McLaren.”

        I don’t get peartree’s point about Sainz neither, but this is a huge exageration.
        McLaren got 70% more points than Toro Rosso (60 points). They really don’t play in the same league.

  8. Question for me, is since the hybrid era, what season was a good season for Vettel? Car aside, team aside, tactics aside, etc. To put into context “good” meaning close to faultless driving, qualifying performance and race performance.

    Leclerc turns up and out qualifies him, out scores him and wins at Monza (first time asking) whilst fending off a 5 (now 6) time world champion. That should’ve been Vettel’s win.
    Difficult situation for Vettel, arguably new territory for Ferrari.

    1. There have been two good seasons since then, for sure: 2015 and 2017 (most of it) were stellar.
      But the last three have been disappointing, each one a little worse than the one before.

      1. @magon4 I don’t really rate the 2015 season. The Ferrari was in a league of its own, with Mercedes far ahead, but the rest of the field far behind as well. He had three victories, but it was more a case of Mercedes losing those races, by pitting under SC in Malaysia, imploding in Hungary, and being way off the pace in Singapore. He had several unbelievably poor races that year, such as Bahrain and Mexico. The 2017 season was pretty good, but there was that Baku madness, and then Singapore.

        1. Some good points maybe @mashiat, but hindsight can be slightly misleading. Vettel was voted 2nd or even driver of the season consistently in 2015, and has been in everyone’s Top 3 since 2009 and until 2017. In 2015 at some points it looked like he was taking the fight to the Mercedes, when he should have been out of sight from the beginning.
          I clearly remember 2015 being a comeback year for him and his reputation after 2014.

          1. @magon4 Perhaps I do look back differently in hindsight, but I didn’t see anything too special about his 2015 season.

            …has been in everyone’s Top 3 since 2009 and until 2017.

            I think you should really think back to 2014 and 2016. Personally, I would add 2010 to that collection as well, although a lot of people won’t agree.

      2. @magon4 and @mashiat 2017 was bas for Vettel. Not as bad as 2009, 2014, 2018 and 2019 perhaps, but he threw away a perfectly good chance for the WDC in 2017 as well.

        Baku: He should/would have won, but road rage got the better of him
        Canada: poor start then and kept his nose in with 3 cars going into the first corner (Vettel being last). Inevitable nose wing damage meant he dropped back rtaher than fight for P2 or even P1 which he should been doing.
        Singapore: Took out both his own team mate plus Verstappen. Gifting Hamilton a win (which should have been Vettel’s) where P4 seemd the best Hamilton could achieve.

        By my calculations that’s 57 down the drain/gifted to Hamilton. ie lost the WDC

        Then there was
        Silverstone: He just kept going maximum attack on an extremele long stint. Which inevitably ended in another burst tyre.
        Mexico: Clumsily crashed into both Verstappen and then Hamilton. Instead of fighting for the win.

    2. Just because he was beaten by a 10years younger driver, one of the best new talents, you completely mop the floor with half of his carreer?! Because Schumacher was dominated without doubt by ROS, it suddenly means that Schumacher is just an average racer and barely deserves any of his stats? If so, then put VER in the 2nd Mercedes, and I’m pretty sure sudenly HAM will be just an average racer and all his stats will be under a biiiig question mark. Then, VET didn’t race a Mercedes all these years. Then again, flash news, VET outqualified LEC by 0.7sec too, not only LEC outqualified VET by that kind of margin. Another thing, almost sure LEC is better than BOT so, highly doubt HAM will do much better than VET against LEC. I’m afraid things can’t be evaluated that “easy”, there’re too many factors implied.

      2015 I think it was a good season for VET.

      1. @mg1982

        I’m pretty sure sudenly HAM will be just an average racer

        Maybe in your fantasy wish-fulfilment la-la-land. But in the real world, no, that wouldn’t happen.

      2. @mg1982 Ricciardo was not 10 years younger. The’re about the same age. Yet Ricciardo utterly destroyed Vettel in 2014.

        2015 I think it was a good season for VET.

        We have no way to know really though. Vettel was indeed presumed to have done well because he was “better” than Raikkonen (who was hampered by being the #2 driver and 5 DNF’s), but in retrospect that clearly didn’t mean a thing.

        Plus the gap between Alonso and Raikkonen had been a lot bigger than the gape between Vettel and Raikkonen.

        So (inhindsight), Vettel didn’t do well at all in 2015 either.

        1. simply not true.

          hindsight can be very deceiving.

          1. @magon4 Lol, actually no hindsight does not. We know now with certainty that Vettel isn’t that good and that neither was Raikkonen. Vettel was moe closely matched to Raikkonen than Alonso was.

            So if anything was good, it would have been the car Ferrari delivered. Which indeed it was. Not top like Mercedes, but good enough to be best of the rest behind Mercedes. Plus actually good enough to challenge them on the few tracks that didn’t suit the Mercedes car.

  9. Not being funny but if Bottas could go away and come back significantly stronger and improved over the break I’d bet that Sebastian Vettel certainly can too. Considering this was a ‘weak’ year from him and he was still decent enough to score good points, take pole and win races, him at strength should be a sight to see. In fact we already know what he’s capable of – we’ve seen him win four world championships before. He’s just got to get that strength back.

    That said, I think Ferrari will remain the architects of their own demise and continue to undermine and underwhelm their drivers with questionable machinery and equally questionable tactical choices, so regardless of whether we get a Vettel 2.0 or not I’m not certain it’ll make an enormous amount of difference.

    1. @rocketpanda But this was said in 2016 after a poor season. Also after 2017 in which he made several high-profile errors. Then after 2018 when he was terrible over the 2nd half of the season. And now after 2019. It isn’t a coincidence that Vettel hasn’t had a single great season ever since he hasn’t had a car 0.5s clear of the field.

      1. That’s not a fact, either. Not even close to being one.

        1. @magon4 True, even if Vettel does have that 0.5s advantage over the field he doesn’t win anymore (Germany 2018, Bahrain 2019). So he did get even worse.

          Although in 2009 he also spun out of 3 races in the first 6 races (half the races not finished due to driver error!) So this whole thing of spinning off and crashing into other cars has been a theme of his since he started.

    2. @rocketpanda

      That is a great first question. I think Bottas really did get better. He won twice as many races, got poles, even with Ferrari looking strong after the summer break.

      So what could Vettel do? We know he is capable of driving perfectly, winning 9 races in a row. He is very fast. Is it all just confidence from having the best car and your teammate shaded?

      I suspect Hamilton has this figured out, whatever he does to keep himself in the right mindset. Practicing and preparation too. Sure the car helps, but Hamilton battled from behind many races, only really screwing up in Brazil.

      Perhaps Vettel needs a big dose of humility and to reevaluate his preparation methods.

      1. @slotopen Bottas was extremely unlucky in 2018 though. Without it he would have won several races then too.

  10. Bring back Fernando!

    hahaha..Had to say it.

    I’m not saying bringing him back would be a step forward, but the man has proven time and again that he never lets a good result slip.

  11. Ferrari has tenancy of doing this throughout history.

    Look at how many uncompetitive years (relative to their teamate) have Massa and Raikkonen managed to stay

    1. opps,

      was replying to someone saying Vettel is lucky to stay at Ferrari for another year…

  12. I really do hope Seb can get back on form.

    1. Same. I’d want to see how well he will do with the ground effect configuration in 2020.

      He seems to have done very well back then when blown diffusers were allowed. Of course they are not exactly the same thing.

  13. I was recently scrolling through @keithcollantine‘s previous driver rankings, and I came across these quotes directly from the articles:

    What really hurt Vettel’s title-winning hopes were the kind of unforced errors the likes of Jenson Button didn’t make – the collision with Kubica at Melbourne (and subsequent penalty), the crash at Monaco and going off the track at Istanbul.

    These were quotes from 10 years ago, but they still ring true today. It still surprises me how even after a decade, Vettel still has the same flaws and it has barely improved whatsoever. And from the 2010 season:

    These mistakes were born from overtaking attempts which went wrong. Even with a world championship under his belt, Vettel has not yet shaken off the impression that although he can win from the front with aplomb, racing for position is not his thing.

    That was a 22 year old Vettel. You wouldn’t have expected this from 32 year-old Vettel.

  14. @mashiat I know right. People say Button won that title only because of his dominant car, but reality is that they weren’t that dominant. Button had to fight for it plenty, but he did. Button overtook cars where Vettel would get stuck behind the same car. Vettel however managed to spin/crash out of 3 of the first 6 races.

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