, by Matthew Scott
Sebastian Vettel‘s tendency to make “stupid mistakes” when he is not leading a race will come back to haunt him in his title fight with Lewis Hamilton. That is the view of Adrian Newey, the man responsible for designing Vettel’s championship-winning Red Bull cars.
Vettel has spilled points with on-track mistakes in Azerbaijan, Austria, France, Germany and Italy, while the Singapore Grand Prix did not pass without incident.
The German hit the wall in FP2, losing crucial track time, and Ferrari’s strategy then cost him even further as he finished third, allowing race winner Hamilton to open up a 40-point lead.
Vettel has said he must now win all six remaining races if he is to overhaul Hamilton, but Newey is concerned that the pressure may come to haunt his former charge.
“He works incredibly hard and is sometimes too dogged ‚Äď hardly anyone is more self-critical than he is,” Newey told Bild am Sonntag of Vettel.
“If he has a weakness, then it‚Äôs that sometimes he makes stupid mistakes that happen in the heat of the moment.
“If he leads a race, he is almost unbeatable. But in direct duels he sometimes slips up.
“In sports, but also in life, people deal differently with pressure. For a racing driver this can be particularly difficult. In the car, he is not only responsible for himself, but he has the entire team in the garage on his shoulders.
“Some drivers do not care; take the Finns Kimi Raikkonen and Mika Hakkinen, for example. But then there are also drivers who, just at the end of a season, when it comes to the world championship, feel the pressure weighing down on them. The harder a driver works, the more he feels the pressure.
“If he‚Äôs going to manage it, he needs at least one retirement from Lewis. Otherwise it will be damn hard.”