Ex-Formula 1 team boss Flavio Briatore says Sebastian Vettel’s must win mentality has been the drawback in his quest to win this year’s world championship.
Vettel’s aspirations to seal a first drivers’ title for Ferrari has faded due to a catalogue of errors from his part and from the team this season, as well as a slump in performance at recent events.
The four-time world champion hasn’t led the standings since Germany when he blew an almost certain victory by crashing whilst in the race lead, falling to a 67-point deficit to Lewis Hamilton with four races remaining.
Given his hard-fought approach to racing, Briatore believes Vettel’s mentality doesn’t work in his favour when competing across a 21-race season.
“Vettel is not winning the championship, he’s winning races and it doesn’t work like that,” Briatore told 2016 F1 champion Nico Rosberg in his Beyond Victory podcast.
“If you lose out in three or four opportunities like that, it’s 25 points thrown away every time and it’s becoming very difficult after that mentally.
“I believe the stress you have as a driver is enormous and if you’re in the position to handle the stress and do the job and not go out [retire from races], you’re winning. Because when you go out, it’s the worst possible scenario – we know that.”
Briatore highlighted Vettel’s first-lap crash in Monza as an example of his attitude behind the wheel, claiming his incident at the second chicane made “no sense”.
The Italian admits he had a similar experience with Fernando Alonso while at Renault and forced him to change his way of thinking during his two world championships in 2005 and 2006.
“You need to explain to him that the race is 53 laps, and not one lap,” he added. “I remember we had the same experience with Fernando.
“When you want to win the championship finishing third place is already bingo. It’s important to stay on the track.
“His [Vettel’s] accident in Monza made no sense, honestly. You know the car is better, you just brake and stay behind, finito. You have 50 more laps to recover it.
“If you go out, you have zero laps to recover. Sure, with the car he has he could finish fourth because the car is better than the rest of the competition. But when you want to win the championship you have to be a master at that and do well and finish second and third also.
“The target is to just get the points. You don’t need to win every race to win the championship. It’s not about the race wins, it’s about the points.
“If you have a competitive car, you overtake somebody. If you are going to have an accident with the guy who has more points than you, the advantage goes to your competitor.”