It’s true that in Mexico City, Sebastian Vettel craves the top championship spot in the grand Formula 1 event…
The fact that he has no chance of winning the World Championship again before the fourth-last race of the season in Mexico is a big worry to him. But there is hope for next year, or so he hopes.
Sebastian Vettel already knows the script. For the third time in a row, the trip to Mexico for the German could end with him having to congratulate Lewis Hamilton on his F1 title. Certainly the Ferrari man also knows which sentences he has to recite post-race.
“We can cut ourselves a line there,” says the 32-year-old and summarises the continuing inadequacy of the Scuderia in a simple phrase: “We have to become stronger as a team.
The role of the permanent loser must gradually appear to Vettel as tough as one of those shallow soap operas on Mexican television. As in the previous four years, Vettel and Ferrari started the title mission full of confidence, only to throw them into the ditch again with technical deficits, tactical failures and driver errors. “I think we missed a lot of opportunities this season,” says team manager Mattia Binotto.
The consequence: Mercedes has now surpassed the Ferrari records set during the heyday of Michael Schumacher and as the first team in history has won the world championships with drivers and constructors six years in a row.
The only question still open is whether Hamilton or his team mate Valtteri Bottas, who is 64 points behind, will become World Champion. If the British defending champion gets 14 points more in Mexico than his Finnish little helper, this matter is over.
“From the outside, they’re close to perfection every time they go on track,” Vettel says of the rivals in silver. Compared to the formidable Mercedes victory machine, the weaknesses of Ferrari become visible under the magnifying lens.
The car has only been really competitive since the summer break. Vettel, in particular, made some hair-raising mistakes under pressure, most recently at the messed-up start in Japan. And the toxic team duel between the German top dog and young star Charles Leclerc is moderated by team boss Binotto in a rather so so, mediocre sense.
Ferrari has conquered all five pole positions since the Belgian race, and Leclerc scored the most points of all drivers during this time. “This is a positive trend. We have to make sure that we continue and learn as much as possible for next year,” says Vettel.
A warning that has been heard in a similar way from the four-time champion in the past seasons. After all, if Ferrari had previously reached a low mostly in the second half of the season, this time the shape shows a clear upward trend.
The engineers have drawn the right conclusions from the car’s initial aerodynamic problems. The Ferrari engine seems to be so strong that some competitors wanted the FIA to investigate possible rule violations. Since the technical framework will remain fairly unchanged in the coming year, the ground seems to be well prepared for the Italian’s World Championship campaign.
“We have the ingredients, we have the intelligence, we have the dedication. But we have to do a little more in all areas,” Vettel described the task. A victory in Mexico on Sunday which he still lacks in his trophy cabinet would probably be seen by the German at best as a small intermediate step toward next year.
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