In many ways, 2020 is a make or break season for Sebastian Vettel.
In the final year of his contract with Ferrari, the German is already under intense pressure from his teammate, Charles Leclerc, who has just agreed a new deal which keeps him at Maranello until the end of 2024.
As he waits on confirmation from Ferrari that Leclerc has equal status – not to mention the ongoing media speculation linking Lewis Hamilton with the Maranello outfit – these are difficult times for the four-time world champion who dreamed of emulating his boyhood hero, Michael Schumacher in restoring the Italian team to title winning success.
Despite the apparent pressure and the seeming lack of time, Vettel insists that he has nothing to prove to anyone, only himself.
Asked if he still wants to prove himself to be the best racing driver in the world, he tells Germany’s Motorsport-Magazin.com: “That’s why I’m here…
“I want to prove it to myself,” he adds, “that is the most valuable thing to me.
“You can never prove it to everyone,” he continues. “I can’t do that, but it’s irrelevant to me too.
“If I’m good or not, some people like it and some don’t. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to sound too selfish, but I do it for myself.
“I enjoy it very much, I love what I do and I am very ambitious. I want to achieve something with this team. This is my motivation, this is my goal. I want to prove to myself that I can achieve this.”
With four titles to his name, some would say he has already proven it.
“I don’t see it that way,” he responds. I don’t think to myself: ‘Ah, I’ve won this before, I don’t have to win it again.’
“I don’t think that any success I’ve had in the past will bring me success in the future. At the same time, I am very, very privileged to have been in this situation more than once, to have been able to prove to myself that I can be the best, that I can beat the best and that I am among the best.
“But I don’t wake up in the morning and think: ‘I’m the best!’,” he insists. “I know that you can read a lot about that in books that tell you how to think and stuff. It doesn’t work for me.
“I don’t read these books, it doesn’t work for me. I just don’t wake up and think to myself that I’m the best and unbeatable. I do wake up and know that I can be the best and beat the best.
“That gives me extreme joy,” he admits. “I want to do that, and on top of that I want to achieve it here. It means even more to me to win with this team. I know I haven’t achieved it yet, but I want to.”
Despite his well-documented interest in the history of the sport, Vettel has said that he has no interest in the legacy he leaves behind.
“History is very important to me,” he says, “I love the sport, I am a fan. But I am not a fan of myself.
“I know I drive the car, I don’t need to be reminded of that. I don’t look at it that way. I don’t wake up and think: ‘Wow, I’m an F1 driver!’
“Those numbers mean a lot to me,” he continues. “But if there’s a legacy I want to leave behind, it’s for myself and not what it might mean to others. I do it for myself.
“And that means for me, the team and the people around me and the people supporting me. It’s not realistic to have everyone in this world on your side.
“It is a privilege to travel and see so many people from different places and different cultures. That’s how I know that in the end we are in a bubble here.
“All in all, can we leave a legacy behind with what we do? Probably not. But it means a lot to me and I want to make a legacy for myself.”