Nürburg (dpa) – Thickly wrapped in an anorak and with a woolen hat on his head, Sebastian Vettel strolled over the Nürburgring one last time as a Ferrari driver.
Accompanied by his racing engineer Riccardo Adami, the four-time Formula 1 world champion refreshed his impressions of the traditional course on the so-called Track Walk seven years after the last Grand Prix in the Eifel in uncomfortable weather. “It is called German Siberia for a good reason,” said Vettel, amused, before the seemingly wintry 41st appearance of the motorsport premier class at the foot of the Nürburg. The climate will certainly be a challenge.
Vettel is still looking forward to returning to the Vulkaneifel with its vast forests. Once the mythical and highly dangerous 20.832 kilometers long Nordschleife was driven, Formula 1 is satisfied with 5.148 kilometers on this Sunday (2.10 p.m. / RTL and Sky). “It was a surprise to have Germany back on the calendar this year and a happy surprise to have the Nürburgring back on the calendar,” said Vettel at the official press conference. It is nice to be back again. “The last time I was here I won, so I’m the defending champion.”
A lot has changed at Vettel since 2013. The dream of a world championship with Ferrari has not come true for the Heppenheimer. At the end of the year he has to leave Scuderia after six seasons together. “It’s true that I failed because I set myself the goal of winning the world championship with Ferrari,” admitted Vettel self-critically in the Formula 1 podcast “Beyond the Grid”.
The 33-year-old would have liked to have ushered in a title era like his idol Michael Schumacher once did with the Scuderia, at the end of his statistics the second World Cup places in 2017 and 2018 will be. “There are things that I should have done better, things that I should perhaps have seen earlier, fights that I might not have taken up,” said Vettel, without specifying these locations. “In the end, that’s how you mature and learn. I think it’s important that I don’t feel any regrets.”
The untitled years with Ferrari have gnawed at Vettel. He didn’t put it away that easily, after all, Vettel is extremely ambitious. But now he is happy to move on. From 2021 the Hessian will take over the cockpit of the Mexican Sergio Perez at Racing Point, which will operate as the Aston Martin works team in the future. “He will take the team to another level,” said team boss Otmar Szafnauer, “and I am sure that he will help us to improve 1000 little things so that we can reach a new level.” Vettel will bring the attitude of a world champion.
There are four world championships that the former Red Bull Dominator has in his portfolio and is daring a new Formula 1 adventure. The Canadian billionaire and team co-owner Lawrence Stroll ultimately convinced him, said Vettel. The attitude and the will to “do something really good” were decisive. “It sounds like a project that will be fun,” assured Vettel before the eleventh race of the season. “A lot of things will happen for the first time there and I think it’s an incredibly challenging journey for the whole team.”
Vettel will experience a complicated last Eifel race as a Ferrari driver. He knew that long before the route inspection in gray skies and rain. After all, Ferrari is only a midfield racing team this season because of the weak engine. “It will be the same car as here, so it won’t be an easy weekend,” said Vettel in Sochi two weeks ago. It will be difficult for Vettel, but he shouldn’t regret that either.