Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari need to “step it up” and find improvements in order to have any chance of beating Mercedes in 2019, according to Nico Rosberg

Vettel and Ferrari led the 2018 standings at the half-way stage but a string of driver errors and operational failures enabled Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes to capitalise and ultimately triumph to both championships. 

Rosberg, who beat former Mercedes teammate Hamilton to the 2016 title before retiring from the sport, believes the Italian squad must avoid a repeat of last year’s mistakes if it is to end Mercedes’ current run of success in the V6 hybrid era. 

Five Storylines to look out for in F1 2019

“He needs to improve and the team needs to improve overall,” Rosberg told Sky Sports at during a promotional filming event. 

“They just had too many mistakes last year because possibly they should have won it. 

“They've made some major changes. They've changed [former team principal Maurizio] Arrivabene and put in [Mattia] Binotto, so they've made a change in the highest position there.

“Also Leclerc, that could also be a very, very positive dynamic - but it could also be negative and backfire. 

“So it's going to be awesome to watch. They just need to step it up, but they can do it. It's going to be great to follow again.”

Fellow Sky Sports F1 pundit and 2009 world champion Jenson Button echoed Rosberg’s comments, arguing that Charles Leclerc’s arrival could force Vettel into a “tough decision” over his future. 

Rosberg said the pressure is “absolutely” on Vettel to bounce back from a tough season in which he made a number of high-profile errors, most notably crashing out of the lead at the German Grand Prix. 

“He was feeling it [the pressure] already last year,” Rosberg added. 

“Especially driving for Ferrari that's where the pressure is the highest because you've got the whole country on you. 

“He's feeling it, that's clear. He just needs to put it together this year.” 

FEATURE: Why Leclerc will make or break Vettel's Ferrari F1 tenure