Sebastian Vettel expects the number of mistakes he and Lewis Hamilton make to have a major influence on the destination of this year’s drivers’ championship.
After Vettel won the Canadian Grand Prix and moved one point clear in the standings, Hamilton regained the lead with victory in last weekend’s race at Paul Ricard while the German finished fifth after colliding with Valtteri Bottas at the start. Vettel, who was penalized for the incident and also suffered damage, believes the ebb and flow between the two title rivals means the championship will be decided by whoever makes the fewest mistakes.
”Of course, mistakes are not part of the plan, whatever plan you have,” Vettel said. “They’re never part of the plan for anybody. It’s a long way to go, and it’s normal some things happen along the way.
“Obviously you are trying to push the limits. It didn’t cross my mind when I was in Baku to just stay behind, surrender, and maybe wave another person past, just to collect some points. That’s not how I define racing. I tried to go for the gap, I went for it, it was there, and I didn’t make it. It didn’t work. Sometimes it works out, and it’s great; sometimes it doesn’t.
“At the end of the year you try to get everything right, and not to get everything wrong. That’s natural. It’s also part of the excitement, so we’ll see where we end up. We’ve got a strong package, at some races very strong, some a little bit less strong, but every race can make a difference.”
Another aspect Vettel cites as key to the fight is the inconsistency of Mercedes and Ferrari, with fluctuating levels of performance in the opening eight races.
“That’s a difficult question because we’ve had so many different tracks. With Mercedes it’s sometimes difficult to understand why they are up, why they are down. With Red Bull, they are more consistent. There are certain types of tracks that maybe suit them, and others that don’t.
“In the end you don’t know what’s going on. We’ve had our races where we’ve been very strong, and others where we weren’t very strong for some reasons, and then we were able to improve in those areas.
“Apart from lap one, if you take France as a weekend then it was very positive, especially if you compare it to Barcelona – similar asphalt, same tires – and so on. We were in a much better place. Why Mercedes are so competitive, and other times not, I don’t know.”