Sebastian Vettel says Ferrari is “completely fired up” for 2018 after learning from the mistakes it made this season.
Having won the first race of the season in Australia, Vettel led the drivers’ championship until the end of the European season, with Lewis Hamilton’s victory in Monza the catalyst for a run of form that saw the Briton win the title in Mexico. While Vettel admits he was frustrated by the way his challenge slipped away, he points to the progress Ferrari made since the end of 2016 as motivation for the team ahead of next year.
“I think if we can do a similar step for next year, then – don’t get me wrong, it is a joke but Germans don’t joke so much – but it should be a walk in the park,” Vettel said.
“What I want to say is that I think the step we have had this year was incredible. The way the team came out with a competitive car at the start of the year and the way we’ve improved the chassis, engine and on all fronts has been outstanding.
“We’ve been close for most of the year but not close enough when it mattered. That is what has happened. I think from that we made our conclusions and learned our lessons, so I believe those will help us next year.
“We are completely fired up for it. It was bitter but now I think it was good to have a couple of races at the end of the year to approach and look forward to next year. We’ll see, as everyone will be pushing very hard for next year and I am sure we have the right people, as we proved we have that this year. It all starts again next year so let’s see.”
Vettel is confident he has also learned from the battle with Hamilton this year, but admits Ferrari still has to understand certain aspects of what went wrong this season over the winter.
“It was toe-to-toe for most of the season but not for the important part of the season, so in a way I’d love for this press conference to be a little more less relaxed but that isn’t the case. I think it has been fun for us with a massive achievement and massive step – if you look where we were in 2016, I think we did the biggest step of all and probably from winter testing we were right there. The one thing that has been a strength was going with the development, especially this year, that was the most important part to stay in the fight.
“Historically we’ve lost out but this year when it has been hardest with so much potential and so many big steps when you are going well, we managed to do them and kept in the fight. We had two or three races which turned out to be very costly for different reasons and [Mercedes] have been very strong and consistent all year.
“In the end we weren’t good enough to take it to the last race and take the championship. We know what we need to do – some lessons were a bit more obvious and others were hidden, but I am sure we’ll dig deep and find all of them.”