Sebastian Vettel has confessed that he felt he let the Scuderia Ferrari team down when he banged wheels with Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team‘s Lewis Hamilton at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix earlier this year.
The German felt his British championship rival brake-tested him behind the safety car, which the four-time world champion drove alongside Hamilton before colliding wheels.
The FIA punished the Ferrari driver for his action with a ten second stop-go penalty but still managed to finish ahead of the Brit. But the governing body opened a further investigation over the incident but Vettel escaped further punishment.
In an interview with Autosport.com, Vettel admits that the collision in Baku felt worse compared to his opening lap crash with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen at the Singapore Grand Prix, which allowed Hamilton to further his championship lead.
“I think Baku was worse, I felt I let the team down, because something that I did obviously cost a race win potentially.” said Vettel.
“Singapore, to be honest, the way I look at it, it’s racing and it happens. Obviously it is extremely unfortunate, but I don’t know how many start crashes there have been in the past and there will be in the future.If you happen to be inside them, it always sucks. There is no better way to describe it.”
Ferrari have emerged as title contenders alongside Mercedes after coming back from abysmal 2016 season, where the Italian team record no wins throughout the whole season.
Vettel believes that Ferrari’s title charge this season was down to the early shift of focus with the new rules for 2017.
“2016 was a tough year, but a very important year, because a lot of things we shifted internally for the better. So it should make us stronger. Obviously this year gave us the chance with new rules and so on to come up with a new car and we used our chance, but you can see we are not entirely happy, because we want to win altogether.”
“I still think that there is a lot to do still. I don’t mean that there is still a lot of changes necessary in terms of we need to change the people, because that is what people normally think: when you talk about changes – ‘ah, you need to change the people’. No.”
“So I think the potential is there in Ferrari, the people are there, talent is there. And it’s about us, all of us trying to work together and make it happen.”