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Sebastian Vettel admits his own F1 performance not good enough in first half of 2016

Sebastian Vettel says his performances in the first half of 2016 have not been good enough given Ferrari’s ambitious targets for this Formula 1 s...

Sebastian Vettel admits his own F1 performance not good enough in first half of 2016

Sebastian Vettel says his performances in the first half of 2016 have not been good enough given Ferrari’s ambitious targets for this Formula 1 season.

Vettel, who is fifth in the championship on 120 points, explained that he had produced “too many ups and downs” during the first 12 races of 2016.

Ferrari finished fifth and sixth in last weekend’s German Grand Prix and neither Vettel nor his teammate Kimi Raikkonen could close in on the Mercedes or Red Bull cars in front of them.

Sebastian Vettel

In an official Ferrari statement, Vettel described how the SF16-H was sliding to a high-degree on the Hockenheim track and reckons that this ultimately cost Ferrari in the race, which was won by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

He said: “We're usually faster in the race than we are in qualifying, but this wasn't the case today: we were sliding around too much and this affected the tyres as well.

“Fifth and sixth place was the best we could do but we obviously can't accept that, we will be working to improve and we know what to do, the stuff that's coming up for the next races has always been part of our plan.

“The first part of the season didn't go as we wanted, we need to work on ourselves and I, for one, had too many ups and downs, which cost me some points. But we'll keep fighting.”

Sebastian Vettel

Vettel’s ups and downs in 2016 have followed a year when he scored three races wins and much was expected of the four times world champion and Ferrari this season.

He led for much of the Australian Grand Prix before a conservative team strategy call dropped him behind the Mercedes cars, which was not his decision, but he then ran wide as he closed in Hamilton in the closing stages.

Small errors also cost the German driver time in his fight with Hamilton at the Canadian Grand Prix, where Ferrari ultimately lacked the pace to challenge for the victory, and although he recovered to second place in China he did so after colliding with Raikkonen at the first corner.

After the Hockenheim race, Ferrari’s team principal Maurizio Arrivabene was at a loss to explain his team’s lack of pace, which came one week after Vettel finished just 0.6s behind Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo in the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel

Although Vettel’s best lap of the race, second fastest of the whole field, was just 0.268 seconds behind Riccardo’s quickest lap of the race, Raikkonen, the lead Ferrari driver in qualifying at Hockenheim, was 0.416 adrift of the Australian on what is much more of a power dependent circuit than the Hungaroring.

Ferrari searches for speed

Speaking about his team’s lack of pace in Germany, Arrivabene said: “While one week ago, in Hungary, our race pace was totally respectable, here in Hockenheim we experienced again some issues with both mechanical grip and downforce, which unfortunately are not unknown to us.”

The Italian explained that Ferrari needs to act fast to avoiding lose ground in the constructors’ championship, as the team now finds itself in third place, behind Red Bull by 14 points, for the first time this season.

Maurizio Arrivabene

He said: “Obviously, we must react as quickly as possible to cure these problems and most of all we must lose not to too much time in the process. Having been jumped in the Constructors' championship only pushes us to react, and perform better in the second part of the season, after the summer break.”

Raikkonen reckons Ferrari’s needs to “improve the car in all areas”, particularly by adding downforce, but the team heads into F1’s mid-season break having just parted company with James Allison, its former chief technical officer.

 James Allison

Although the SF16-H has not been as successful as its predecessor or allowed Ferrari to close the gap to Mercedes and fight for the championship, questions have arisen in the paddock over the decision to let Allison, who is widely regarded as F1’s second best engineer, leave the team.

Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne expected the squad to be winning races fighting and be in the thick of a title battle in 2016 and this has clearly not been the case. To compound matters, with F1 facing major new aerodynamic regulations next season, unless Ferrari can unlock some hidden downforce on the current car soon, questions will turn to when the team should direct its full resources onto its 2017 challenger.

Sebastian Vettel Ferrari

What have you made of Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari so far in 2017? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.
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