Japanese GP: Sebastian Vettel insists Ferrari have not lost direction
Last Updated: 04/12/18 5:18pm
Sebastian Vettel has insisted Ferrari have not 'lost direction' with development of their 2018 car despite their title bid faltering since the summer break.
Beaten by championship rival Lewis Hamilton in five of the last six events, Vettel has fallen 50 points behind in the title fight as a season consistently set on an upwards trajectory in the first half of the year has started to flatline.
But if Vettel is worried about his waning chances of claiming a fifth title ahead of Hamilton, he isn't showing it.
Cheerful, relaxed and sanguine when he faced the media ahead of this weekend's Japanese GP, Vettel dismissed suggestions Ferrari have lost their way since his victory in August's Belgian GP - the Scuderia's only win since early July.
"We haven't lost direction," said Vettel. "We have made progress, the steps that were planned were the steps that came. Maybe they have made bigger or smaller steps. But we are where we wanted to be.
"Against people's opinion, we haven't had a dominant car this year. At too many races, we haven't been close enough."
While Ferrari have generally held a pace advantage over Mercedes, and even appeared to maintain that superior superiority despite their defeats in Italy and Singapore, the narrative shifted dramatically at last weekend's Russian GP when Mercedes edged ahead.
"In race pace we were a bit closer," reasoned Vettel. "You can't change much in a week but let's hope the track suits us more."
But that's not the only reason Vettel is looking forward to Suzuka.
"This is my favourite track in the world," he revealed.
Less enjoyable, however, was Vettel's experience against Hamilton in Sochi when the Mercedes outmuscled the Ferrari to claim the ascendancy.
"I'm sure he had more fun last week than l did," Vettel reflected wryly. "You don't see each other very often even though you share the same track. And naturally you enjoy it more when you come out on top."
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Ferrari: It's good to talk
After their arrival at Suzuka, Ferrari's main men - Vettel, team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and team boss Maurizio Arrivabene - were spotted deep in conversation inside the Ferrari motorhome on Thursday.
With the Scuderia only winning two of the last nine races, there was no doubt much to discuss…