Sebastian Vettel viewed his and Scuderia Ferrari‘s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as a microcosm of their 2018 season, as he had to settle for second behind Lewis Hamilton.
Vettel closed in on the Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport driver in the final few laps to no avail, recording his fourth second place finish of the season at the Yas Marina Circuit.
The German ended 2018 88 points behind Hamilton’s record points tally in the Drivers’ Championship, with Mercedes enjoying an 84 point lead over Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship.
Vettel admitted to struggling behind the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas before the Finn hit issues in the last part of the race, relegating him to fifth. The German explained that Ferrari continued to struggle in the final sector, just as they had in qualifying, which kept Bottas out of reach.
“I think today’s race sums up the year pretty well: a few ups and downs and in the end just being close, but not close enough,” Vettel mused.
“Today, I really tried to hang on as long as I could, but it was tough being behind Valtteri. I believe I was a little bit quicker, but it was very difficult to get close, especially in the last sector, until he had some issues and I managed to get past.
“We were strong in the straights and we had speed, but we were struggling in the last sector to keep up, especially in the last two corners.”
Vettel believed that he did have a chance of beating Hamilton towards the end, setting the fastest lap of the race and bringing the gap down to 2.5 seconds after roughly sitting five seconds adrift of the world champion for much of the race. A sluggish pitstop, courtesy of a problem on the right rear, did not aid his cause.
Turning his attentions to 2019, Vettel says that there is more potential in Ferrari and they can sustain a championship challenge until the end. The four-time champion will have to contend with a new team-mate in Ferrari junior Charles Leclerc next year.
“At one point, I had hopes of winning the race,” he added. “So I was pushing as hard as I could, but in the end it was not enough.
“It has been a very intense year and I think we have to look at ourselves, as there are many things that we can do better and the potential this team has is still huge.”