Annoyed Vettel adamant he has changed "nothing" despite "difficult season"
Sebastian Vettel is adamant he has done nothing different this season compared to past Formula 1 years despite the appearance he is no longer the force he once was.
The announcement of Vettel's departure from Ferrari before the season had started has seemed to blunt the four-time F1 champion as a threat on the track, notably in contrast to team-mate Charles Leclerc.
Vettel has been comprehensively beaten by Leclerc this campaign, and despite his first podium for a year from the last race in Turkey, the 33-year-old remains on course for his worst season in F1.
Asked whether the podium showed that even after a difficult season he was still capable of being the quality driver that won four world titles and numerous races, Vettel initially took umbrage.
"Well, I’m a bit shocked by the way you phrased your question there," responded Vettel.
"F1 is a very fast living world. We drive the fastest cars so you always get judged by your last race.
"I’ve said that we have had a difficult season. There have been moments where I certainly haven’t been at the top of my game but I don’t doubt that I can do a good job in the car and don’t feel that anything has changed, so [I'm a] bit surprised. But thank you."
With clarification, it was suggested to Vettel that this season his results have been compromised due to his qualifying performance, therefore lacking track position on a Sunday that has resulted in him getting bogged down in a midfield fight.
In Turkey, Vettel drove a clean race, avoiding a spin while virtually every other driver was involved in at least one, and was in the right place at the right time to capitalise on a late mistake from Leclerc to claim third place.
Vettel recognises his Saturday woes have often then undermined the subsequent Sunday.
"I have obviously had a lack of pace in qualifying so far this year in dry conditions," added Vettel.
"Therefore, I've placed myself in a bad spot and it’s a very different race you then have, you are not in front of the pack, you are in the middle or behind.
"In that regard, this year that has been key. It is very close where we are, and being two, three-tenths down when it matters has a big impact.
"It’s something I don’t like, but I’m working on and I think it's been a difficult year for many reasons and this is one of them."
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