Sebastian Vettel has praised Lewis Hamilton on his fifth world title and told his championship rival that he wants to see him to up his game again next year.
Vettel’s championship hopes were finally extinguished on Sunday when he failed to win the Mexican Grand Prix and Hamilton finished fourth. The Ferrari driver had looked like the championship favourite midway through the season, but a series of mistakes in the last nine races saw his title campaign fall apart.
After finishing second in Mexico, Vettel sought out Hamilton to offer his congratulations face to face. Asked later what he said to his rival, Vettel revealed that he congratulated Hamilton and gave him some instructions for 2019.
“I’m not a big sharing person, but I congratulated him and I think he drove superb all year,” Vettel said. “It was going to be one of the two of us [who won], so I told him it was well deserved and to enjoy it. I told him number five is something incredible.
“So it was mainly congratulating him and to tell him to keep pushing for next year because I want him at his best to fight him again.”
Although Vettel’s championship defeat has been a foregone conclusion for the last few races, the Ferrari driver said it was still difficult to accept his fate in Mexico.
“It’s a horrible moment,” he added. “You put a lot of work in, but I see your point that we could have saw it coming. But I didn’t pay attention in maths so I didn’t check the numbers, and you just try to hang in there as long as you can. I have had it three times now in my life, but there is still disappointment on the day you realise you can’t win the championship any more.
“Those are not happy days and you have to reflect not on one moment but the whole year of work and effort that goes in, from the end of last year until now. We had our chances, we used most of them but some we did not. In the end it wasn’t enough.”