Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel says he must “digest” the spin that cost him at least second place at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The German four-time world champion lost control while battling with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who inherited victory when Vettel’s team-mate Charles Leclerc suffered engine problems.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with pressure,” said 31-year-old Vettel. “I was surprised when I lost the rear that sudden. It was certainly my mistake.”
It was the fifth similar error in the past 13 races by Vettel, whose title hopes in 2018 were significantly dented by repeated errors from both the driver and his Ferrari team.
Vettel admitted he was “not happy” about a “difficult race” on Sunday, when he was out-paced by Leclerc – in only his second race for Ferrari in his second season in F1.
“Plenty of homework on my side after this weekend,” Vettel said. “Not having the feel for the car, so we need to have a good look.”
Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto said: “He had a mistake, as he said. I don’t think we should discuss mistakes.
“We are always in the fight – that’s what [the drivers] are doing. It is never easy and it is something that may always happen.
“We need to encourage our drivers because it is only by driving to the limit they can achieve the best result, and this is what Seb was trying to do.
“We are still learning the balance of the car and we have some test days (in Bahrain this week) which will be useful in the preparations for China and we will focus on that.”
It happens to all of us – Hamilton
Five-time world champion Hamilton said Vettel’s series of errors in recent times paled into insignificance in the context of his achievements throughout his career.
“It happens to all of us,” Hamilton said. “Just because you’re a multiple world champion doesn’t mean you’re not going to have off weekends.
“It’s more cumulative. Look at Vettel’s career. He’s had stunning performances that far outweigh the weaker races and when he’s spun, for example. They’re minuscule on the status he’s accumulated and created.
“There are always times when you just happen to not get the right car set-up, which you guys don’t get to see. All these little things that we’re doing, it just doesn’t happen to work that weekend and the differences are so small yet they look so big.
“I don’t know why that happens but today was one of those for him. But he’s a world champion and great athlete. He will recover and keep pushing.”
Hamilton’s win left him one point behind team-mate Valtteri Bottas at the head of the championship after the first two grands prix of a 21-race season.
Despite a problem with one of his cylinders that was costing him five seconds a lap, Leclerc managed to salvage third place out of a race he had dominated.
He is fourth in the championship, four points ahead of Vettel, one behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and 18 behind Bottas.