Sebastian Vettel says Mercedes is the “big favourite” to win at Hockenheim this weekend while giving further insight into “that crash” last year which denied him victory in front of his home crowd.
It is the under-fire Ferrari driver’s home German Grand Prix, but after boss Mattia Binotto revealed ahead of the weekend that there are no updates for the 2019 car, Vettel is playing down his chances.
A year ago, Vettel was on the way to victory at Hockenheim before the first big mistake of his troubled period saw him crash out.
“I was extremely angry at myself but that’s forgotten now,” the German told Auto Bild. “Actually, if I see it today, the way I dug into the gravel and then punched the steering wheel so furiously, I have to smile. I made a small mistake with big consequences.”
One year on, Vettel doesn’t fancy his chances of rectifying that mistake this weekend, “You should never say never, and I’ll give everything as always, but realistically Mercedes is the big favourite.
“I am not feeling the rear of the car at the moment, and for me that means I am missing confidence,” admitted Vettel.
Former F1 designer Gary Anderson agrees that it is the Ferrari car that mostly explains Vettel’s current slump, “Vettel is without question a top driver but he needs a car that suits him. The Ferrari seems to tend to understeer, which some drivers like or can handle, but I don’t think Vettel is one of them.”
“Ferrari need to try to help Vettel, but it will be difficult because I get the impression the problem is with the front wing, and that’s not easy to change,” Anderson added.
Today is 333 days since Vettel stood on the top step of a Grand Prix podium when he did so at Spa-Francorchamps last year. The German also did not win races during the 2014 season as well as in 2016 when Mercedes dominated.
Big Question: Have Ferrari thrown in the towel?