“How do you know about our technical direction?” he responded. “Sorry, but I don’t think it’s true; I don’t think we lost direction.
“We made progress with our cars,” he continued, “the steps that we planned, the steps have been coming.
“Now, you never know where you are in comparison to others, maybe they have done smaller steps or bigger steps, I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure speaking to all our engineers that we are where we would like to be or where we wanted to be.
“Of course you would like to be always further with more performance, but that’s the same for everyone.”
Asked about the performance advantage in Belgium and Italy, which appears to have vanished in the last couple of races, he said: “We have a strong car, but I don’t think, against the people’s opinions, that we had a dominant car at any point this year.
“I think the highlights mentioned or the races mentioned, in qualifying we were not ahead. In the race I think it was very close and I think it has been very close all year.
“I think there were too many races from our side where we weren’t close enough. A race like last weekend, the way they could play with us in the race, usually means they had more pace.
“There were other races in the season where we didn’t have the pace they had. But I think we have always been very close, most of the races close enough to have a good fight. So we’ll hope that we have the same performance here.
“Hopefully we are closer in qualifying, which matters obviously to place the car well to then have a strong car and show that pace, because once you are behind, for the reasons I mentioned earlier we don’t have a lot of wheel-to-wheel racing, it’s not that easy to follow close, and then if you are racing for the same tenth, even if the cars were easier to overtake it wouldn’t be that straightforward because ultimately you go as quick as the guys around you, but hopefully we are a bit closer.”
With just five races remaining and Lewis Hamilton enjoying a fifty-point title lead, asked if it was ‘now or never’, Vettel admitted: “I don’t like the now or never approach. I don’t think there’s much sense in that.
“I didn’t know it was five out of six, now I know, so the secret before just now has been not to count.
“No, I think you attack every weekend, every weekend is different, the track is different, the circumstances are different, so I’m very happy to be here. I love this track, it’s my favourite track in the world, so I’d better enjoy it and not spoil it by starting to count the things that are against me and focus on the things that are working for me.”