Flavio Briatore believes that Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, with the best car at his disposal, has only himself to blame for blowing a championship-winning campaign.
Speaking on Beyond Victory with Nico Rosberg, after a mistake-strewn Japanese Grand Prix weekend for Ferrari and Vettel, Briatore said, “Sebastian has made a lot of mistakes this year, his biggest enemy is himself. Ferrari at this moment is quicker than the Mercedes.”
“Vettel is not winning the championship, he’s winning races and it doesn’t work like that. If you lose out in three or four opportunities like that, it’s 25 points thrown away every time and it’s becoming very difficult after that mentally.”
“I believe the stress you have as a driver is enormous and if you’re in the position to handle the stress and do the job and not go out [retire from races], you’re winning. Because when you go out, it’s the worst possible scenario – we know that.”
During his time in the Formula 1 paddock, Briatore managed Michael Schumacher to his first two titles in the Benetton days, and then a decade later was in Fernando Alonso’s corner when the Spaniard broke on to the scene and bagged titles in 2005 and 2006.
The Italian has been there and done that over the years, thus has advice for Vettel, “You need to explain to him that the race is 53 laps, and not one lap. I remember we had the same experience with Fernando.”
“When you want to win the championship finishing third place is already bingo. It’s important to stay on the track.”
“[Vettel’s] accident in Monza made no sense, honestly. You know the car is better, you just brake and stay behind, finito. You have 50 more laps to recover it.”
“If you go out, you have zero laps to recover. Sure, with the car he has he could finish fourth because the car is better than the rest of the competition. But when you want to win the championship you have to be a master at that and do well and finish second and third also.”
“The target is to just get the points. You don’t need to win every race to win the championship. It’s not about the race wins, it’s about the points.”
“If you have a competitive car, you overtake somebody. If you are going to have an accident with the guy who has more points than you, the advantage goes to your competitor,” concluded Briatore.
Criticism of Ferrari, in the wake of Japan, has been vehement with Italian media particularly vocal while using the opportunity to expose a power struggle between team chief between Maurizio Arrivabene and technical director Mattia Binotto.
Vettel was also severely criticised for a series of self-inflicted mistakes that have marred his campaign this year.