Having missed out on the Formula One world championship, Sebastian Vettel says he is determined to end the 2017 season strongly for Ferrari.
Vettel's hopes of becoming Ferrari's first driver to win a title since 2007 ended at the Mexican Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton sealed enough points to wrap up his fourth world championship with two races to spare. The German's challenge collapsed after a nightmare run of poor results for the Scuderia following the summer break, particularly across the three Asian flyaway races in Singapore, Malaysia and Japan.
Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne responded by pinning the blame on a combination of driver error and technical issues, with Vettel triggering a start-line crash in Singapore, while engine reliability failures hampered him at the following two races. But Vettel -- who recently extended his deal with Ferrari until the end of 2020 -- has backed his team to come back stronger in 2018.
"We try to finish the season off in the way the team and the car deserves," Vettel said. "I'm pretty sure we will get a result and that's the target for the next two races. I think we had a strong year, a strong car, but here and there we missed the opportunity to maximise that.
"Overall there are a lot of positives, a lot of stuff that has gone in the right direction. The team has been fighting incredibly hard and that's also part of the reason why I am down because I know how much they give to me and I want to give as much as I can back to them."
Winning a fifth world championship would have seen Vettel become just the third driver in the history of the sport to reach five titles -- along with Michael Schumacher (7) and Juan Manuel Fangio (5). Having claimed four consecutive titles between 2010 and 2013, Vettel's wait for to record a fifth drivers' crown will now stretch into a fifth season in 2018.
When asked if he believes he can win a fifth championship, Vettel replied: "I don't think you can know the answer now. You never know what happens, maybe I fall off the bus next week and break my leg. I don't hope for that but that's not the way I look at it. I don't count the days.
"I want to win the world championship with Ferrari, that's what I want, that's my goal and having to realise that doesn't work out this year is tough. What the next year's bring, I don't know. I think we still have a lot in us as a team and a lot we can improve on so that should make it easier to fight for it again."