Sebastian Vettel has paid the price for his mistakes in recent years with Nick Heidfeld pinpointing that as his “biggest downside”.
Vettel has cost himself vital points, and possible World titles, with mistakes that include an early spin at the 2018 Italian GP, an error that many believe was the catalyst in his title fight with Lewis Hamilton.
Last season another error while battling Hamilton, this time a five-second penalty for rejoining the track in an unsafe manner, meant the German had to wait until Singapore to bag his first win of the campaign.
Then there was his 2017 Baku antics against Hamilton in which he deliberately swerved to hit the Mercedes driver. That’s just naming a few.
Heidfeld says his compatriot is paying a price for those mistakes.
“I think the most important thing for him would be to do less mistakes in races,” Heidfeld said in the F1 podcast Beyond The Grid.
“That has been his biggest downside of some of the last couple of years, something he didn’t show that much in his World Championship years.”
Aside from not fighting for last year’s World title, Vettel also lost to his Charles Leclerc in the overall standings.
The German finished P5 with 240 points, 24 behind his Monégasque team-mate. It was only the second time in his F1 career that Vettel lost to a team-mate.
Heidfeld feels the four-time World Champion was unfairly judged against Leclerc, who was competing in his first season with Ferrari.
“In the races actually Vettel in my view has had the upper hand,” he said.
“If you look at their qualifying pace, Seb had some issues at the beginning of last year, but I think he got on top of them and they were very evenly matched. It was not like Leclerc was beating him all the time.”
“On pure pace I would say that Leclerc would probably improve a little more than Vettel, just by the simple fact that he is still young and learning a lot, but I think they are fairly even.
“Leclerc is obviously a fantastic driver. And I never since Leclerc arrived said or thought that Vettel didn’t do a good job.
“I think it’s just one of those occasions when a young kid comes in who nobody has high on their list yet, and then beats the World Champion.
“Therefore [many] think that Vettel isn’t a good driver, but maybe in a few years time everybody says: ‘Okay, look at Leclerc.’
“He is maybe then also a World Champion or has beaten every team-mate he drove against, and you can put it into a different perspective.”