Vettel: Losing title in 2009 was the worst

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel says missing out on the 2009 Formula 1 world championship still ranks as a more painful moment than losing to his Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton this season.

Hamilton clinched his fifth title, and fourth in five seasons, in Mexico last month with two races to spare. Vettel is sure to finish the year as runner-up.

“I have been three times now in a position like that with 2017, 2009 and this year. Probably 2009 was the worst one, the lowest point,” the German told reporters at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Thursday.

“You never know what the next year brings. You never know whether you get another chance,” Vettel added. “Obviously I will work very hard for it, and I am confident it will come but ultimately I don’t know. You can’t predict. None of those moments were nice.”

Vettel finished 2009, his first year with Red Bull, nine points behind Brawn GP’s champion Jenson Button in a championship won by the Briton at the penultimate round in Brazil.

He had to wait until 2010 for his first world title and ended up with four in a row from 2010-13 before moving to Ferrari in 2015 while Mercedes began a run of dominance.

The German was also runner-up to Hamilton last year, the first season since the retirement of Mercedes’ 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg.

Hamilton has won nine races to Vettel’s five in 2018 and went to Mexico with a 70 points advantage and needing only to finish seventh.

With that title decided, Mercedes now have to wrap up the constructors’ crown for the fifth year in a row and will do so at Interlagos on Sunday providing Ferrari do not score 13 points more than them.

Vettel said the Italian team, still Formula One’s most successful of all time, believed they could “have at least a word” in the outcome.

“We try everything we can. We go flat out and try and score more points so that’s everything we can do. We’ve seen in the last race how quickly things can change when you struggle with tyres and so on, we’ve been on that side as well. We keep our head down and try our best.”

“I still have a mission here and want to win so that doesn’t change. The last race was a tough one to swallow, and probably the winter will be as well, but giving up is not an option.”

With regards to the season ahead, Vettel said, “We have two more races to go and I am looking forward to racing. I think this is not the right time to draw conclusions as the Championship is not completely over yet. I would like to win these last two races.”

“The last two Grands Prix were better for us in terms of pace, so hopefully we can continue like that and we be able to win. For sure, we’ll try to do the best that we can. We want to focus on winning the Constructors’ Championship, trying to put our main competitors as far back as we can.”

“As for this circuit, it is difficult to predict what will happen, as Interlagos has an unusual layout, one on which… things just happen. We’ll see how the weather turns out, but I believe it’s going to be a challenging weekend.”

“Along the way something went wrong for us this year and we need to make sure we learn from it; clearly we missed something and it’s up to us to fix it and make sure it won’t happen again,” added Vettel whose Ferrari trail Mercedes in the constructors’ standings by 55 points.