Monza: A downcast Sebastian Vettel believes he can bounce back to overhaul Lewis Hamilton in this year’s Formula One world championship despite trailing by 30 points after Sunday’s tumultuous Italian Grand Prix.
The four-time champion German admitted that he felt he and his team had let down Ferrari’s passionate tifosi by failing to win after locking out the front row of the grid.
But, he said, he was assured by the way in which he recovered from his first lap spin to finish fourth in a car damaged when he made contact with the triumphant Hamilton’s Mercedes as the championship leader went past him at the second chicane.
“It was unfortunate for us to get spun around and have a lot of damage, but it could have been also him that spins around and us carrying on,” he said.
“I think given I was looking the wrong way after four corners and last, finishing in fourth with effectively the same strategy as everybody else is a decent recovery with the damage we had.
“When I got going again, the car was actually quite horrible to drive and I had a lot of snaps and moments. Then I got used to it and drove around it, but when I got out of the car I was surprised myself by the damage.”
As to recovering a deficit of 30 points, he said he was not worried. “I think we have the pace,” he said. “The points sound a lot, but actually it doesn’t take a long time to get them down.”
As the dust settled after a breathless contest, many paddock pundits suggested Vettel and Ferrari are making too many strategic and tactical mistakes to resist the momentum of Hamilton, despite the Italian team clearly having a faster car.
With seven races remaining, however, they have the time to recover if Vettel can find the consistency needed, in temperament as well as performance, to match the Briton as they scrap it out to claim a fifth world title.
“Obviously it’s a disappointment for the weekend, for the people here and I feel like I’ve let them down because I think they deserved a different result,” he said. “I did all I could after the collision.
“It’s a bit of a gap now,” he conceded. “But it’s nothing that we didn’t do in the past. I’ve been in these situations. I know what to do and I’m not going to bother too much about what happened (Sunday).
“For sure it’s a disappointment right now, but very quickly I am turning the page and focusing on Singapore – I like the place and I am happy to go there.”