Abu Dhabi - Sebastian Vettel, so graceful in his handling of
defeat by Lewis Hamilton in this year's drivers' title race, on Monday began
serious reflections on his and Ferrari's disappointing season and a harsh
The four-time champion German, whose Ferrari car was often
the fastest on the grid, conceded he had to look at himself first and the team
secondly after he had finished second behind new five-time champion Hamilton in
Sunday's season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
"I don't think I ever have any problems raising my hand
if I made a mistake," he said, conceding that in 2018 he had made a few.
"I have to look at myself first."
In a spectacular season that saw the title race ebb and flow
as Ferrari and Mercedes battled for supremacy before an exceptional purple
patch from Hamilton secured both titles for the Silver Arrows, Vettel was, he
"Knowing as well, as a racing driver, how quickly
things can go wrong, how quickly things could have gone differently this year,
I think I have to review a couple of things," he said.
"But there's other things that went wrong and don't
need a lot of reviewing or over-complicating too much.
"I know what I need to do. Certainly, here and there,
looking back I haven't been at the top of my game so... I look at myself
In his home German Grand Prix, Vettel crashed out of the
race lead and handed the initiative in the title race to Hamilton who, in the
rain, claimed a famous victory.
In Italy, at Ferrari's home race, he tangled with Hamilton
on the opening lap with a similar outcome - another Hamilton triumph that added
to the gathering momentum of the 33-year-old Briton.
While Vettel admitted his own faults, he was prepared also
to concede that Ferrari had not been faultless in an inconsistent season
overshadowed by team upheavals following the death of Sergio Marchionne.
"Things didn't come together so obviously we did a step
back towards the end of the year, which enabled us to be more competitive
again," he said, explaining how the team had been forced to abandon an
update package that saw them under-performing.
"But I think we've understood what went wrong. We
obviously will try to do a better job in the future. That was one key thing. On
the other hand, I think we had a lot of lessons. It was a tough year in
"The team is strong and the team has potential, but
surely it was a lot of things that happened inside the team....
"It's up to us to look into every single detail and
make sure we come out as a stronger group, enabling us to build a stronger
package for next year and for the future."
Vettel will be joined at Ferrari next year by a new
team-mate in Monegasque prodigy Charles Leclerc who replaces Finn Kimi
Raikkonen in a bid to rejuvenate the drivers' line-up and add competitive
On Sunday, Raikkonen bade farewell to the Italian team with
an early retirement after losing power. It was a downbeat end to an often
colourful career with Ferrari before he moves to Sauber, but a signal that
Ferrari are ready for change.