A number of Sebastian Vettel’s rivals have backed the Ferrari driver after a mistake-ridden second half of the 2018 Formula 1 season.

Vettel has come under fire for a string of mistakes across the second half of the campaign which have enabled Lewis Hamilton to stand on the verge of clinching his fifth world title. 

The most high-profile mistakes came in Germany, where Vettel crashed out of the lead, while he also clashed with Hamilton in Italy, and most-recently suffered spins after tangling with Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo in Japan and Austin respectively.

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When asked in Thursday’s FIA drivers’ press conference if Vettel had thrown away the championship, Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen replied: “It’s one of those things, sometimes it happens, you push and you push and sometimes you get it wrong.

“Unfortunately, it happened to him a few times, but I think we’ve all gone through it and it’s part of the game.”

Force India’s Sergio Perez said he felt Vettel’s errors had come as a result of his desperation to win a championship for Ferrari.

“I think Sebastian is a fantastic driver and it’s very hard to judge the performance of someone when you are not in the team,” he added.

“We have seen some mistakes, probably at the end he was just desperate to achieve what was probably not possible.

“But he is a four-time world champion for that reason. He has a great team and he will be back to fight again. He had a great opportunity to fight Lewis, Mercedes also has a fantastic car so it was very hard for him.”

Pierre Gasly, who will join Red Bull next season, reckons Vettel “over-performed” with the machinery at his disposal during the first half of the campaign.

“It’s part of racing,” he explained. “You are always driving at the limit.

“I think probably he overperformed with the car he had at the beginning of the season, a couple of times he managed to win races which probably Ferrari didn’t have the potential to win them and then expectations were really high.

“He did a couple of mistakes in the second half of the season and I think he is the only one who can answer why. When you are fighting for the championship you are so much at the limit all the time, trying to achieve things that probably wasn’t achievable sometimes with the car he had and things happen.

“I think he knows how to manage a championship, it’s not the first time he is in this position but he’s the only one who could answer that question.”

Renault driver Carlos Sainz believes critics have been too quick to judge from the outside.

“I think it’s always difficult to judge the performance of any driver because you don’t know the car, you don’t know what they are going through,” the Spaniard said.

“Of course there’s been some mistakes that we have all seen but I think it’s very easy to judge from the outside and not know what is clearly going on in there.

“I really respect Sebastian, he’s a four-time world champion for a meaning, he deserves to be a four-time world champion and he will come back again eventually.

“He might have gone through a tough moment but he will be back.”

Vettel must now win this weekend's Mexican Grand Prix to keep his fading championship hopes alive.