After another disappointing year at Ferrari for Sebastian Vettel, 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg believes his compatriot must show improvement this season.

“The pressure is on, absolutely,” the German told Sky Sports News.

The 2018 season saw a first in the sport’s history with two quadruple World Champions, Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, lining up to battle for a record-equalling fifth Drivers’ Championship crown.

But the Ferrari driver failed to capitalise on a strong start to the season and instead Hamilton took his fifth Drivers’ Championship title by 88 points, joining Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher in the Formula 1 record books.

“He [Vettel] was feeling it, I’m sure, already last year and especially driving for Ferrari that’s where the pressure is the highest because you’ve got the whole country [of Italy] on you,” Rosberg said.

Since winning four consecutive titles with Red Bull Racing from 2010-2013, Vettel has been unable to realise his ‘dream’ of winning a title for the sport’s most iconic team with the pressure appearing to get the better of the champion.

The turning point: Crashing out of the lead of the German Grand Prix triggered the collapse of Vettel’s 2018 title campaign.

“He needs to improve and the team needs to improve overall. They just had too many mistakes last year because possibly they should have won it,” Rosberg added.

Ferrari has made some major changes ahead of the 2019 season. In September last year they announced 21-year-old Charles Leclerc would replace veteran Kimi Räikkönen after his impressive rookie season with Sauber.

And earlier this month the Scuderia promoted its Chief Technical Officer Mattia Binotto after firing team principal Maurizio Arrivabene.

“They’ve made some major changes. They’ve changed Arrivabene and put in Binotto, so they’ve made a change in the highest position there.

“Also with Sebastian’s new teammate, 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,” Rosberg believes.

Image via Scuderia Ferrari and Sutton Images

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Elle Haus

Journalist at MotorsportM8
Seasoned media and communications professional. Tropical traveller. Cocktail connoisseur.