Once ahead of Lewis Hamilton in points and with the fastest car in the field, Vettel and Ferrari’s campaign utterly fell apart in the last month and the championship win now seems impossible.
Speaking to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the German denied that pressure applied by Mercedes’ Hamilton got to him.
“If we see each other, it’s briefly at a press conference or the briefing or with a little luck on the podium. There is no direct contact,” he said.
So Vettel said psychological games, as were possible in the past, no longer happen.
“Things like ‘You have no balls’ or ‘You were crap today’ are no longer possible because every word is put on a golden scale,” he said.
For instance, in 2012 he called Narain Karthikeyan a “cucumber” and Vettel recalls the “great outrage” that ensued.
“It was just a statement,” Vettel insisted, “and it’s unfortunate that it’s no longer possible.”
Any pressure, he says, is put on by himself and the team.
“Pressure is not necessarily fun,” he admitted, “but it doesn’t always exist where people often suspect from the outside.
“Honestly, you drive for yourself and for those who help you to compete at this level.
“One guiding principle helps me,” Vettel explained. “It’s that no one is ever as good or as bad as it is said. And I always like to reflect on what brought me to racing: my enthusiasm and joy.”