Outgoing Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel says he “learned a lot about myself” both on and off track when he endured his worst season in Formula 1 in 2020.

The four-time world champion plummeted to a career low by finishing the year 13th in the standings having scored just 33 points from 17 races, though he did make a return to the podium with a best result of third place at the Turkish Grand Prix.

In contrast, teammate Charles Leclerc ended the season eighth in the standings and picked up two podiums as he racked up a total of 98 points having comprehensively outperformed Vettel.

Vettel, who is leaving Ferrari to join Aston Martin in 2021 after the Maranello outfit elected against offering the German a new deal, felt he was able to make progress regarding the “bigger picture” despite the difficulties he encountered throughout 2020.

“It was a difficult year, but I think I worked a lot in the bigger picture, stuff that will help me for whatever comes next,” Vettel said.

“I’m very excited for what comes next. I’m sad I leave the team but obviously that’s a decision that’s been taken some time ago and I take it as a man so there’s no problems with that.

“I hope, because I deeply care about this team, they will get back to grips, and Charles will get the car he deserves, and for people like Laurent [Mekies], people in the garage, who are passionate, things will come together, but I’m excited for what comes next for me.

“Obviously it is a new chapter, a big start, and time will tell, but as I said I’ve learned - despite the poor results this year - I’ve learned a lot about myself and my future on track and off track.”

Vettel departs Ferrari having failed to achieve his ambition of winning a world championship title during a seven-year spell at the Scuderia, despite racking up 14 victories.

Asked to select his standout memory from his time at Ferrari, Vettel replied: "What I will keep for sure for the rest of my life is spending my time not only with professionals but the people behind, with the great heart and passion that drives them, the commitment they have, the guys in the garage, in the engineering office, in Maranello.

“There’s many reasons why you can argue why we did not succeed and finish the mission we did not set out to achieve but what you keep ultimately is the memories and the passion I shared with so many people along the way.

“I have no regrets looking back,” he added. "Certainly there have been mistakes, there have been highs and lows but it has sunk in.

“I’m not normally the most emotional guy but today is a different day, a day I will remember not for finishing 14th but for what it means in the big picture. It is a day I will treasure.

“It is a goodbye to many friends and in a way I fell in love with, in the last years, so those I will miss. I’m sure I won’t lose those completely, we have a saying in German, you always see each other twice in life, I think time will tell.

"I’ve learned so much from this team - they have given me so much, I’m very grateful for that. It’s beyond titles and victories, for sure that’s what we were after, in the end we didn’t get it.

“It doesn’t change anything, I wish this team well, I wish the guys well. Charles is a young, fresh hope of this team and I hope he gets the car he deserves in the next years.”

 

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