Sebastian Vettel says he does not regret chasing his childhood dream by joining Ferrari and that he will able to process the disappointment of not winning a world title with them when he leaves at the end of the season.
But Vettel has admitted he does wish he had handled the nature of his sudden departure from Red Bull differently in 2014, when he told them of his plans to leave for Ferrari on the Friday night of that year’s Japanese GP.
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Vettel was speaking in a candid and revealing exclusive interview with Sky F1’s Martin Brundle – the full extended version of which can be watched for free at the top of the page via YouTube.
Asked if he regretted the switch from blue to red, Vettel replied: “No I don’t – and that’s the truth.
“What I do regret is a little bit the way things ended [at Red Bull]. Obviously, we didn’t finish on a high, but that’s how the sport is sometimes, but looking back it was a bit of a weird constellation with contracts, what I was supposed to say, allowed to say, not allowed to say.
“That made it a bit awkward. So when Christian [Horner, his then-Red Bull team boss] probably received that text he knew what was coming and we all knew what was coming but nobody was mentioning it yet. That looking, back I have to say I regret because I think we had such a fantastic time together.”
Reflecting on his six seasons at Red Bull, during which he won his four world titles in a row between 2010 and 2013, Vettel added: “We achieved so much – we had a blast, really.
“I should have listened to my gut feel more, my stomach more, in terms of coming straight away [with his plans to leave] because there was also nothing wrong with that. Ferrari has always been a dream of mine. I don’t want to say I was brainwashed, but obviously massively inspired by my childhood, by Michael [Schumacher] in the red car. I think it is a fascinating brand so for the right reasons I think I was attracted by that attractive red-haired women that showed interest!
“Looking back, our mission, my mission, my target was to win the championship. We didn’t do that, so in that regard we failed, but still we had some really good years and some highlights and good races, so I don’t regret it.”
Vettel had been expected to at least emulate some of the record success enjoyed by his hero and countryman Michael Schumacher at F1’s most illustrious team. But while there have been race wins – 14, the third most for a driver with the Scuderia – the driver-team combination have been unable to beat Mercedes over a full season.
“I think I was realistic enough back then to know that [it might not happen] and I never wanted to step in Michael’s footsteps, like literally,” said Vettel.
“But, of course, as I said, I was inspired by him and still am inspired by him because I think he is the best there ever was. I was hoping to take some championships away from Lewis so that Michael’s record stands a bit longer, now we are a bit out of striking distance to try and block him!
“I wanted this to work for myself more than for Michael, if you see what I mean. It is a shame it didn’t work out but I’m also old enough and mature enough to know why and see the reasons and move on. That’s the truth.”
Vettel on Ferrari in 2020: Can they improve?
Even before a wheel had been turned in the delayed 2020 season, Vettel was told that he would not be offered a contract renewal by Ferrari for next season with the German to be replaced by McLaren’s Carlos Sainz.
Vettel has yet to decide what he will do next – as he explained during the course of the wide-ranging interview – and Ferrari’s disappointing form at the start of the campaign has made a fairy-tale finish to his six seasons at Maranello remote.
But the 33-year-old says he will do his best to help the team to improve their fortunes this season to help pay back those who have supported him since 2015.
“We are disappointed as a team we are not in a position to fight for wins and podiums what we pretty much expected,” he said. “If you have those high expectations then it’s always going to be a disappointment if you don’t achieve those.
“But it is what it is now and we need to make sure we hang in there and make sure we do the best we can.
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