I should've done better: Vettel

Ferrari man admits to being outperformed by Hamilton, who can seal title tomorrow

AUSTIN (Texas) • Sebastian Vettel recognised on Thursday that he and Ferrari had made mistakes but refused to single out the moment where his hopes of winning a fifth Formula One title ended.

The German, on 264 points, is 67 points behind Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton, who can become a five-time champion at the US Grand Prix in Texas tomorrow. The Briton has won six of the last seven races, and is chasing a fifth title in a row.

Asked whether he accepted Mercedes had done a better job than Ferrari, Vettel was clear: "So far, yes. It's pretty obvious. You just have to look at the points.

"I should have done better. If you want to name one (race), then Hockenheim. Maybe we should have done better, but overall we just didn't have enough races where we had the speed to dominate the weekend and put the car on pole and finish first."

Vettel, winner of five races this year, led at his home German GP before skidding off a wet Hockenheim track and sliding into the barriers. Hamilton went on to win the race.

His first retirement of the year cost him the championship lead at a crucial point but he questioned the significance of it.

"I am not a believer in this has been the turning point or the stars have been wrongly aligned. I don't believe it," he insisted.

Hamilton will be champion if he scores eight points more than Vettel, something he has done for the past four races with Mercedes chasing a hat-trick of one-two finishes.

"I don't think it's much point now thinking too much about what happened," added Vettel.

"I think it's still something that we have in our hands to change and that's what we look for.

"You have to be aggressive to win. And of course you need to find the right balance so you never try to do something silly."

But the signs are not looking good for Vettel and Ferrari. Hamilton has won five of the six races at the Circuit of the Americas, with Vettel the only other driver to triumph there, with Red Bull in 2013.

Hamilton, meanwhile, has described Juan Manuel Fangio as the 'godfather' of Formula One and said it was crazy to think he could soon join the late Argentinian as a five-time world champion.

Fangio was, until Michael Schumacher won seven titles, the man with the most and the 1950s champion remains revered as possibly the greatest driver of all time and certainly of his deadly era.

"He's the godfather for us, one of the greats from the beginning and will always be admired in the sport," Hamilton told reporters.

"It is crazy to think that I'm embarking on a similar number of championships that he had."

But he does not envy racers of that era, a time of frequent driver funerals and also an age completely alien to his background as the grandson of 1950s Caribbean immigrants to England.

Hamilton has broken down barriers as F1's first and only mixed-race champion, and did so coming from an underprivileged background without wealth or any family history of motor racing.

"I don't know if the '50s was a particularly good time. It wasn't a great time for black people either so I probably wouldn't have been racing back then," he said.

"I'm grateful to be in this era, with the technology that we have and seeing the cars advance."

REUTERS

US GRAND PRIX

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2018, with the headline 'I should've done better: Vettel'. Print Edition | Subscribe