Mattia Binotto is convinced Sebastian Vettel remains focused on becoming Formula 1 world champion with Ferrari, despite the team’s 2019 setbacks and Vettel’s supposed disillusionment with grand prix racing.
The four-time world champion said after his controversial race-deciding Canadian Grand Prix penalty that F1 “is not the sport I fell in love with” as a child, although he has since moved to shut down speculation that he could retire as early as next year.
While pressure from new team-mate Charles Leclerc, coupled with Vettel’s continued lack of title success with Ferrari, has led to suggestions Vettel’s future may lie away from Maranello, team principal Binotto said his driver is still set on achieving the goal he set out when he joined.
“I think that his objective hasn’t changed – to become world champion with Ferrari,” Binotto told Autosport.
“And he’s got that objective very clear. Obviously the start of the season in that respect is frustrating, because it means for his final goal he’s not in the best position to achieve it in 2019.
“But because he’s got such a strong objective, he knows exactly what he’s looking for.
“I think that is where he’s finding his own boost, and that is not compromising anything, so he’s clearly still pushing [very] much, because he knows where we need to go and he knows exactly what he’s looking for.”
Ferrari and Vettel remain winless in 2019, and the German is 94 points behind championship leader Lewis Hamilton with nine races remaining.
Vettel’s chances of defeating Hamilton in 2017 and ’18 were hampered by a number of high-profile errors, and these have also featured this year – with Vettel spinning in Bahrain, receiving a penalty for an off in Canada while he led Hamilton and hitting Max Verstappen at Silverstone.
But Binotto reckoned Vettel’s recent errors are a result of him trying to overcompensate for Ferrari’s deficit against main rival Mercedes, as “it’s always easier when you’ve got a faster car”.
“He’s very analytical, in his way of looking at the problems and the lack of pace, and I think that’s helping as well the team,” Binotto added.
“Because at the end it’s only a matter of looking at facts, understanding what is wrong, what needs to be improved.
“I think that in that respect he’s got the right approach.”