Ferrari took the majority of its opportunities in 2017 and should not get obsessed with the costly retirements this season, according to Sebastian Vettel.
Lewis Hamilton wrapped up the drivers’ championship with two races to spare despite Vettel having led the standings for the first 12 rounds of the year, with a retirement on the first lap when starting from pole in Singapore highlighted as a turning point in the season. While Vettel admits there are races that prevented the title battle going down to the wire, he says there are a number of races where the team managed a bigger return than it perhaps should have.
“For sure it makes a difference if you finish a race rather than finishing it in the first lap, but overall I think we had a good year,” Vettel said. “You have to be also fair. In the end Mercedes was better, they were faster – look at the amount of pole positions, of race wins.
“I think we had our chances… we used them. We had races where we probably got away with a good result even though it was on the edge. I’m thinking about races like Bahrain, where we were very close to having a failure. We won the race in Hungary which I don’t think we were supposed to win, with the steering failure we had during the race. We finished races that could have been a DNF.
“On the other hand, we had other races where we didn’t finish. It’s obviously bitter because you’re not in the fight. That’s the frustrating bit about those races, but they’re part of racing. So that’s how it goes sometimes. In that regard, obviously Mercedes has been more consistent. The issues that they had, thinking about gearbox at the beginning of the year were less costly and happened to them on a Saturday or early in the weekend – but that’s how it goes.”
Vettel also believes that Ferrari has not always talked up its own progress enough after having not been able to mount a serious challenge to Mercedes in 2016.
“Overall I think it’s a straight fight and they just did better, but I want to emphasize the positives for us,” he said. “Really, the steps we were able to make. The way the team has grown together. I don’t think you always see the full picture. Maybe we are less vocal about it than other people, but in the end we do our job, and that’s what bought us here in the first place. If we keep doing that I’m confident that we can be in a better place next year.”