‘Failure’ Vettel bids Ferrari farewell
Four-time champion Sebastian Vettel hopes to bid farewell to Ferrari with a smile on Sunday, but admitted that his six-year stint is, ultimately, ending in tears of failure.
The 33-year-old German, who joined Ferrari in 2015, offered a searingly-honest and realistic appraisal of his time with the Italian giants, despite winning 14 races, when he admitted his goal had been to claim a fifth title.
That total made him the third most successful driver in the team’s history behind seven-time champion Michael Schumacher, with 72 wins, and Niki Lauda on 15.
But emulating his idol Schumacher as a Ferrari title-winner had been his target.
“It doesn’t change anything, we’ve still failed,” he told reporters.
“We had the ambition to win the championship and we didn’t.
“We were up against a very strong team-driver combination, one of the strongest we’ve seen so far, but our goal was to be stronger than that and, in this regard, we failed.
“There’s a lot of reasons why, but in the big picture, I think it’s not unfair. It’s just the truth. Nothing wrong with saying it out loud.”
He rejected a suggestion that the pressures of expectation from the ‘tifosi’ had contributed to the team’s failings.
“The pressure in Italy? The fans and so on, yes, it is there, but ultimately I always set the highest sort of expectations on myself and I think I was the first and best judge if I didn’t achieve them,” he added.
“So, rest assured, when I stuffed the car in the gravel in Germany (2018), I wasn’t happy before the ‘tifosi’ weren’t happy.
Vettel will join Racing Point, re-branded as Aston Martin next year, and believes he has gained from his Ferrari experiences.
“Everything that happened has happened for a reason. The main thing on my side is to make sure that I learned from it and I think I have grown with it.
“Overall, I feel much more comfortable, or in a better place now, than all those years ago, but certainly it hasn’t always been easy and straightforward.”
– ‘Danke Seb’ –
Meanwhile, the other Ferrari driver, Charles Leclerc revealed a warm tribute to Vettel.
The Monegasque’s feelings are expressed in words that form part of a special helmet livery he introduced for the season-ending race.
Vettel and Leclerc have been team-mates for the last two seasons.
Leclerc’s helmet design is mainly in white – a sign of respect towards the German driver’s traditional livery – with a red stripe on top for the a flag of Monaco next to a message: ‘Danke Seb’.
In practice, Leclerc, who has to take a three-place grid penalty for his crash with Sergio Perez last week, wound up eighth while Vettel was 14th.
Others on the move after Sunday’s finale include Daniel Ricciardo, who switches teams from Renault to McLaren, and Carlos Sainz who leaves McLaren to replace Vettel at Ferrari.
Vettel’s move to Aston Martin means Perez, who claimed his maiden F1 win at last Sunday’s Sakhir Grand Prix, faces an uncertain future.
His only hope for a seat next season is with Red Bull if they decide not to retain Alex Albon.
“I have some good options for ’22,” said Perez. “So, if I have to stop, it’s not a disaster.”
Haas are changing both drivers.
Kevin Magnussen is out after Sunday following already-departed Romain Grosjean, who has returned home after his amazing escape from a high-speed fireball crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Even though he is unfit to drive, Grosjean also revealed a new helmet livery, he had planned for his final race with Haas.
He said he felt the design, by his children, was too special to remain unseen.
Daniil Kvyat is also expected to be leaving Alpha Tauri where Japanese Yuki Tsunoda is poised to replace him in the Honda-powered outfit.
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