Sebastian Vettel says questioning his credentials as a quadruple Formula 1 world champion is disrespectful and, that no matter how good a driver is, without a capable car winning is impossible.
After four consecutive titles successes, culminating in the ultra-dominant second half of the 2013 season, the German has struggled even to match Red Bull newcomer Daniel Ricciardo this year with a less competitive and unreliable car.
Monaco, for example, was a particularly fraught weekend for Vettel, who was rarely confident that his RB10 would even run.
“I have had many problems with the car,” he said in an interview published by RTL. “So it’s hard to get in your rhythm and get the best out of yourself.”
He said he is dealing with the “frustration” of 2014 by playing sports between races, taking out one of his road cars or indulging his new passion, motorcycling.
In another interview this week, with the German magazine Sport Bild, he blasted as “bullsh*t” any speculation that the frustration might trigger his Red Bull exit.
Also irking him is the suggestion that 2014 is showing Vettel’s true colours – the contention that he is not as ‘great’ a driver in anything other than an ultra-dominant car.
“Looking back, I only had one race without problems. That was Malaysia,” he told RTL. “Again, I think it’s just important to stay true to yourself – if the car is not working, you can be the best driver in the world, the victories will not come.
“I think if you want to make a comparison,” said Vettel, “I remember when Michael [Schumacher] came back with Mercedes and the car was just not on the same level as him, maybe not at the level of his Ferrari.
“But there were many people who said at the time that ‘Michael was just lucky when he won everything with Ferrari’. But as I said, at some point you have already proved enough to yourself and to the others.”
Indeed, he hit back at critics who suggest that Vettel is not a worthy quadruple world champion, on the level of some of Formula 1’s other multiple-title greats.
“Yes,” said the German, “Unfortunately in our day and age it is quite normal that you come to such judgements very quickly. I think you have to learn to deal with it.
“It’s very easy to say something or write something. Of course it’s a pity and it’s a bit like kindergarten, but sadly it’s like that in Formula 1. Everyone thinks that everyone has something to hide.”
Asked if he thinks that suggestions that he has ‘forgotten how to drive’ are disrespectful, Vettel answered: “That’s the way the world is now. It is disrespectful, because these people do not know the background.
“Often they don’t even want to know the background – they want to know how controversial and not-so-great it is, not how wonderfully everything is going.” (GMM)