ABU DHABI — Sebastian Vettel has admitted his season was not up to the standard he or Ferrari expected in 2019.
Vettel left preseason testing as one of the favourites for the title, but finished the year fifth in the standings behind teammate Charles Leclerc, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and both Mercedes drivers. He made race-defining errors in Bahrain, Canada, Great Britain, Italy and Brazil, and won just one race in Singapore after Ferrari’s race strategy played into his hands.
Vettel’s Ferrari contract expires at the end of 2020 and the four-time world champion says it is important he ups his game over the course of next season.
“We didn’t have the year we were hoping for, full stop,” Vettel said. “I think the reasons are clear, the lessons are clear and now it is up to us to take them on board. I think as a team we must perform stronger and as an individual I must do better and can do better.
“It wasn’t a great year from my side, but I don’t think it was as bad as it looks, because there were many small things probably leading to a not great picture at the end.
“But I am the first one to look at myself and if I am honest, I know I can do better. That is, for sure, the target for next year and hopefully we have a stronger package as well to fight with Mercedes.”
Asked what needs to change, Vettel said: “I don’t think it is rocket science, it’s always in the details, small adjustments, nothing big and major.
“I don’t need to drive differently, I know how to drive. We all work together trying to improve the car, trying to make it faster for both of us, but yeah, you’re always looking at yourself.
“I’m not doing the same stuff as I did 10 years ago, I’ve evolved. And I think for the better, but certainly here and there, there are things you always feel you can do better.”
Vettel’s position at the team beyond 2020 has already been questioned after speculation over the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix linked Lewis Hamilton to a sensational switch from Mercedes.
Asked to comment on the story, Vettel joked: “I think he is already a Ferrari driver, no? No change — I think he is a good customer and he has one or two [road cars] I believe.”