Sebastian Vettel believes there is no sense for him to approach this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix as “now or never” given his points deficit in the world championship.

Vettel has seen his hopes of claiming a first drivers’ title in five years evaporate after countless errors have left him 50 points behind championship leader Lewis Hamilton with five races remaining.

Ferrari were left surprised by Mercedes’ pace advantage at last week’s Russian Grand Prix, the Italian outfit had no answer to the performance of the Silver Arrows over one lap.

The team’s progression on the power unit has mysteriously disappeared, with Mercedes responding in that department, but Vettel downplayed claims Ferrari has lost it’s technical direction in recent events.

“Sorry, I don’t think it is true. I don’t think we lost direction,” said Vettel.

“I think we’ve made progress with our car, the steps we have planned, the steps have been coming.

“Now, you never know where you are in comparison with the others, maybe they have done smaller steps or bigger steps, I don’t know.

“I am pretty sure, speaking to all our engineers, that we are where we would like to be or wanted to be.

“Of course you would like to be always further, with more performance, but that is the same for everyone.”

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Vettel is now in the position of needing to outscore Hamilton for the remainder of the season, but even winning the last five races may not be enough to prevent the Briton from winning a fifth title.

The German, however, does not see the need to change his approach beginning in Japan.

“I don’t like the ‘now or never’ approach. I don’t think there is much sense in that,” he said.

“I didn’t know it was five or six [races to go], now I know, so the secret before just now has been not to to count.

“You attack every weekend, every weekend is different, the track is different and the circumstances are different, so I am very happy to be here.

“I love the track, this is my favourite track in the world, so I better enjoy it and not spoil it by starting to count things that probably are against me and focus on the things that are working for me.”