Vettel’s deficit to Lewis Hamilton now stands at 40 points with six grands prix to go after an unexpectedly sobering Singapore GP for Ferrari at which the German finished only third while his Mercedes rival won.
Vettel has admitted Ferrari’s weekend was compromised by their own misjudgements – but believes that estimations of their supposed car advantage over Mercedes have been overstated in any case.
“Lewis said he didn’t expect to come here gaining 10 points, we probably didn’t come here expecting to lose 10 points,” said Vettel. “But, having had the race that we had, I think there’s a full justification for losing those 10 points and we take it.
“Obviously, there is still a long way to go and a lot of points to score. I never believed that we had the fastest car by a big margin, as people said. I know that we have a very good car.
“Overall I think the speed is there but I think it’s a match in qualifying as much as in the race.”
The upcoming Russia-Japan double-header now takes on pivotal proportions for Vettel and Ferrari.
“Russia, I think, has been getting better the last years for us, so it should suit our car as well,” predicted Vettel. “I don’t think we have any tracks to fear that are coming.
“I think our car is working pretty much everywhere and that’s a strength of our car, so no need to be afraid of what’s coming.”
Can Vettel turn it around?
While the pace and versatility of Ferrari’s car is not in doubt, the crucial championship mathematics are beginning to turn against the Scuderia as the season enters its final two months.
Vettel’s current deficit to Hamilton is 12 points more than this stage last year, when Ferrari’s challenge imploded, and while victory in all six grands prix between now and the end of the season would still be enough for the German, he has not won back-to-back races since the opening two rounds – and never three in a row since leaving Red Bull.
Yet two of Vettel’s four previous titles, 2010 and 2012, saw him come from behind and his former boss at Red Bull, Christian Horner, said on Sunday night: “Usually he is very good under pressure, so he certainly won’t give up.
“He was 40-odd points down before in 2012 but obviously it would have been disappointing for him to have lost out to Lewis at this race.
“Lewis has had a great weekend and Ferrari have had a tougher weekend.”
Sky Sports F1 is the only place to watch every Formula 1 Grand Prix, qualifying and practice session live in 2018. Get Sky Sports F1.