SPIELBERG, Austria (Reuters) - Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel has hit back at suggestions he has been making too many mistakes to win this year’s Formula One championship.
The German, a four-times world champion like Lewis Hamilton, was penalized at last weekend’s French Grand Prix for colliding with his Mercedes rival’s Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas at the start.
He ended up fifth after coming back through the field.
That left Vettel 14 points behind Hamilton after eight races, with both title contenders on three wins each and the German having started half the races from pole position.
“It’s racing. There are some errors you shouldn’t do, some errors that happen. It depends on the type of error,” Vettel, in good spirits, told reporters ahead of Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix.
“I’ve had a lot of races. It happens, unfortunately, at times. I try to minimize it, but I’m not worried. I don’t think there is something fundamentally wrong,” he added.
“I think we know what we are doing - I hope I know what I’m doing most of the time, so I should be fine.”
The German lost places in Azerbaijan in April, when he started on pole but finished fourth, after he made a bid for the lead, locked up and ran wide following a safety car re-start.
In China a collision with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen dropped him down the order, after the pre-race favorite had initially made a good start from pole.
Hamilton has meanwhile gone 33 successive races in the points and his off days have been less costly than the Ferrari driver’s.
“It’s a long way to go, and it’s normal some things happen along the way,” said Vettel.
“Obviously you are trying to push the limits. It didn’t cross my mind when I was in Baku to just stay behind, surrender, and maybe wave another person past, just to collect some points,” he added.
“That’s not how I define racing. I tried to go for the gap, I went for it, it was there, and I didn’t make it. It didn’t work. Sometimes it works out, and it’s great; sometimes it doesn’t.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Andrew Roche