Sebastian Vettel says Ferrari have made it 'too easy' for Mercedes
Vettel has lost 50 points to Hamilton since last win in Belgium
By James Galloway at Suzuka
Last Updated: 04/12/18 4:58pm
Sebastian Vettel admits Ferrari have made it "too easy" for Mercedes as their title challenge has unravelled in recent races.
Vettel's hopes of delivering Ferrari a first drivers' championship for 11 years appear all-but over after Lewis Hamilton opened a 67-point advantage in Japan on Sunday. Hamilton could clinch his fifth crown as early as the US GP next week if he wins and Vettel does not finish second.
Vettel's Suzuka weekend lurched from one setback to another, first on Saturday when he qualified only eighth and then in the race when he collided with Max Verstappen. He eventually finished sixth while Hamilton cruised to a comfortable fourth win in succession.
Since winning the first race after the summer break at Spa, Vettel has been outscored by Hamilton by 50 points - a run which has left Ferrari's title quest in tatters.
"There is still a chance, but the last couple of races we made it a bit too easy for them," acknowledged Vettel on Sunday evening.
Hamilton v Vettel: The championship standings
|Lewis Hamilton||Sebastian Vettel|
"But also credit to them, they executed well and that's the name of the game.
"But we need to look after ourselves and do our bit the next couple of races and then we'll see. Surely it didn't help we finished sixth and they won."
He added: "It was always very close but the last races we were not as strong. We will see where we are in a couple of weeks' time."
But Vettel also explained how he found Ferrari's team spirit "inspirational" despite a troubling run of form.
"It's not been an easy couple of weeks but the spirit in the team, considering how tough the last weeks have been, is unbroken," he told Sky F1.
"I know how difficult it is considering where we are but what do we have to lose? We give it everything we can.
"If races go like this it's a bit of a handover, but I think we are trying our best to fight and resist."
Do Ferrari lack 'experience'?
Vettel and Ferrari's Suzuka weekend began to go awry in the final part of qualifying on Saturday when their decision to start the session on intermediate tyres backfired. After pitting for slicks after just one lap, Vettel then made a mistake at Spoon Curve in what turned out to be his only hot lap when the rain intensified.
Ferrari's strategy mistake led team boss Maurizio Arrivabene to unusually issue a public rebuke of the team, calling the error "unacceptable" and admitting they were "probably missing an 'old hand'" to make the correct calls.
Asked if he agreed that Ferrari were lacking experience, Vettel said: "I don't know exactly what he said, but we spoke internally about what happened [in qualifying]. We were not happy with the result.
"What we did didn't work, so we review what we could have done better at the time and I'm sure next week in the quiet we will go through it again.
"If it's raining like that it's also a bit of a gamble. All of a sudden if the rain comes and we could manage half a lap with intermediates and the other half is full ran we look like geniuses and everybody else looks like idiots. It's always close, but for sure it is something we should have done better."
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