Sebastian Vettel says overwhelming support from Formula 1 fans gave him a much-needed lift to claim his first victory in over a year at the Singapore Grand Prix.

Vettel undercut Ferrari teammate and polesitter Charles Leclerc having pitted one lap earlier, before going on to score his first win since the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix and fifth career victory in Singapore.

It followed up on a tough recent patch of form for Vettel and a nightmare race on Ferrari’s home soil at Monza, where the German spun out of fourth place before collecting a penalty for colliding with Racing Point driver Lance Stroll as he rejoined the circuit.

Speaking immediately after the race, Vettel revealed support from fans had provided him with “so much strength” and self-belief.

“I really want to thank the fans and obviously the last couple of weeks for me have been, not the best, but it’s been incredible to get so much support so many letters so many nice messages,” he said.

“People telling their own stories where things didn’t go so well so it’s given me so much strength and belief and I tried to put it all into the car and it’s nice when it pays off.”

In the drivers’ post-race press conference, Vettel added: “I got a lot of energy in the last couple of weeks just from messages that I received from the racing world, from people that I know from a long time ago, especially fans.

“After Monza, and then coming here, people sharing their own story of when things are up and then things go down, which obviously for us, everything is entered around racing, but it really is not the most important thing.

“You read through some of the notes and people’s struggles in life, some very intimate and private, it gets to you, and it gave me a lot of belief and confidence to just keep trying.

“Nothing was wrong in the last couple of weeks, I knew that we weren’t really far away from a breakthrough.

“Charles has been very strong, and was right to win the last two races, but I knew as well on our side we just need to keep doing our job and sooner or later, things will fall into place.

“I’m happy that it was sooner rather than later.”

Following back-to-back title defeats against Lewis Hamilton in 2017 and 2018 and a 12-month period littered by a number of notable driver errors, Vettel had faced questions about whether he might walk away from the sport at the end of the year.

Asked whether he feels satisfied to hit back and answer his critics, Vettel replied: “Maybe less satisfying than you think. As I said about form and stuff, I don’t think there was anything wrong.

“I don’t think we were lacking speed or anything. I think I could have done a better job yesterday, recently there was nothing wrong in general.

“Things were maybe not falling into place, plus I messed up in the racei n Monza, that’s my mistake otherwise, it’s a long race and rthings can happen. Overall, it’s part of the game I think.

“I’ve been around now for a long, long time, and it’s just how the tide turns sometimes. I have the highest expectations for myself, and I’m not happy when I’m not delivering what I know I can.

“Certainly I had moments this year where I was struggling to get it out, so I know that I can improve from there, I can’t be happy with that. Equally it wasn’t as bad or disastrous as maybe people put it together.

“But I think if you’ve been around for such a long time and you’ve had so many good moments, obviously you get hammered when there are bad moments. It’s just part of the game.”

 

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