Sebastian Vettel says he remains confident that he can still beat anyone on the Formula 1 grid in wheel-to-wheel action, despite a season of struggle in 2019.
Having lost out to Lewis Hamilton in the 2018 title race amid a string of on-track errors, Vettel never featured in the fight for honours in 2019 with early struggles compounded by Ferrari‘s inability to get the best out of the SF90.
The emergence of Charles Leclerc gave Vettel another headache, with the battle for supremacy between them within Ferrari not necessarily going the way of the four-time world champion.
Vettel ended the season fifth in the drivers’ standings – behind his new, young team-mate – drawing immediate comparisons to the 2014 season when Daniel Ricciardo arrived at Red Bull and upset the then-reigning champion, but Vettel says he fears nobody on the grid.
“I understand that people refer to 2014,” Vettel told Motorsport-Magazin. “I lost on paper and it’s fair to say that because the numbers say I lost to Daniel.
“But I also know that in 2014 some things didn’t go as we hoped they would. My primary goal in 2014 was not to be on the podium or to finish fifth. My goal was to win races.
“Perhaps my attitude at that time was slightly different from Daniel’s. But more than that: 2014 was not a great year.
“I don’t want to say that I was out of luck. But I was let down a few times, the car didn’t work as it should and so on. That may distort the picture and the numbers.
“It is important that I know how the year went and how I feel with it. I saw Daniel’s success in 2014 first-hand and as his teammate.
“I still do that. I have no problem with that, but I’m also confident that I can beat anyone who drives out there. I’m not afraid of the competition. That makes no sense.
“If you want to win and fear competition, these are two things that don’t go together.”