Sebastian Vettel’s 2019 season ended with a fifth-place finish in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last Sunday, with the German admitting Scuderia Ferrari were not quick enough to challenge Mercedes AMG Motorsport at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Vettel started on the second row of the grid but was unable to use the advantage of the soft Pirelli tyre in the opening stint against the medium-tyre shod Max Verstappen, and after he pitted he lost some competitiveness that resulted in him making a second stop for tyres.
He used the advantage of his tyres in the final stint to catch and pass Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Alexander Albon for fifth, but overall it was an unsatisfactory afternoon for the Ferrari driver.
“At the start I didn’t have anywhere to go and then, the fact the DRS didn’t work didn’t help, because that was when I had an advantage with the tyres over Max (Verstappen), which then faded later on in the stint,” said Vettel.
“After the first pitstop I wasn’t very competitive and so we pitted again. In that moment we lost two places and I was only able to recover one of them, because today Mercedes was simply too fast.”
“I know I can Do Better” – Vettel
Vettel’s fifth-place finish means he ends 2019 fifth in the Drivers’ Championship standings, and he admits he should have performed better at times during the year.
In the twenty-one races, Vettel secured only one race victory in Singapore, while he also took eight other top-three finishes as he ended up behind team-mate Charles Leclerc in the final standings. It was the first time in his Ferrari career he finished behind his team-mate in the championship.
He says lessons have been learned and he and Ferrari will come back fighting in 2020 as he bids to become a five-time World Champion, the previous four coming during his time with Red Bull between 2010 and 2013.
“All in all we didn’t have the year that we were hoping for,” said the German. “The reasons are clear and lessons have been learned so now we just have to take them on board.
“I think as a team we must grow, but I have to say that this year has not been ideal from my side, even if I don’t think it was as bad as it looks. There were many small things that contributed to what maybe didn’t look like a great picture in the end.
“I know I can do better, that is for sure the target for next year, to make a step forward. Hopefully we will have a strong package with which we are able to fight with our rivals. Now I will focus on the test and then I will be happy to get some rest.”