Sebastian Vettel believes that the key to Ferrari's 2019 title challenge is to produce a stronger package than 2018. The Maranello outfit competed against Mercedes for the championship this year for the second year running, but fell short after a dip in form following the summer break.
Vettel got himself involved in a series of spins at Italy, Japan and the USA, while Ferrari also made some strategic errors and failed to successfully upgrade its car. Lewis Hamilton wrapped up his fifth world title at the Mexican Grand Prix with two rounds to spare.
Ferrari's 2018 car was undoubtedly stronger than its 2017 package, but Vettel says that Ferrari needs to make yet another step in order to successfully challenge Mercedes for both world championships.
“I think we need a stronger package,” Vettel said. “We certainly had our moments this year when we had strong races but we also had races which weren’t very strong, we weren’t quick enough, so I think overall it’s the speed that decides and I think more often than not I think we’re lacking a little bit of speed. I think we’re working very hard and the motivation is there to do that final step that is still outstanding.”
Vettel added that too much focus is directed at the drivers, stating that there are hundreds of people constantly working on the car back at the factory: “What you look at in terms of when you look in qualifying or the race, then obviously we are the ones driving the car and we are alone driving the car.
"When we cross the line you look at us first, but there’s a lot of people behind to make sure that you do cross the line and if they do their job really really well and work together then you have a high chance of finishing higher up.
“So I think it’s needless to say that Lewis (Hamilton) had an incredible run the last five years…since the day he joined Formula 1 until now, to be honest. They’re doing a really good job as a team. The challenge to beat such a strong team is difficult but that’s our target.
“We know where we want to go: A lot of work ahead of us, a lot of lessons to be learned again this year. We have 21 races and in summary, we haven’t been strong enough this year to take the challenge until the last race, the last lap, so I think we need to look at ourselves.
“I think we have the people, we have the resources so it’s more getting the maximum out of our package, improving the work inside our team and making sure that we come up with a stronger package, a stronger team for the future.”
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing