Sebastian Vettel has denied that he has 'cracked under pressure' in 2018, after a strong start to the 2018 Formula 1 world championship once again crumbled over the summer months.
Former Renault F1 boss Flavio Briatore said last week that the Ferrari driver was "making a lot of mistakes this year, he is his biggest enemy."
And former Minardi and Red Bull driver Robert Doornbos was also critical of Vettel's performance this season. "Vettel has spilled a lot of points," the Dutchman told Ziggo Sport.
"With a crash in Germany, for example, he gave away a victory," he continued. "In Monza he went backwards after a clash with Raikkonen. And at Paul Ricard he took too much risk with a move on Bottas in the first corner."
"The mental warfare is clearly won by Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes," Doornbos added. "Too bad for us, because with this car it should have been even more exciting."
But Vettel has vehemently denied that the pressure is getting to him.
"Pressure is not necessarily fun," he told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. "But it doesn't always exist where people often suspect from the outside.
"You drive for yourself and for those who help you to compete at this level," he explained.
"One guiding principle helps me," Vettel continued. "It's that no one is ever as good or as bad as it is said. And I always like to reflect on what brought me to racing: my enthusiasm and joy."
Vettel revealed that he had very little to do with his title rival Lewis Hamilton these days and that he rarely engaged with the Mercedes driver away from official appearances.
"If we see each other, it's briefly at a press conference or the briefing or with a little luck on the podium. There is no direct contact," he said.
It meant that psychological mind games between the pair were non-existent as far as he was concerned.
"Things like 'You have no balls' or 'You were crap today' are no longer possible because every word is put on a golden scale."
Hamilton recently defended Vettel, saying that the German driver deserved "a little more respect" from the media.
And Vettel retains the full backing of Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene, who said last week that he stil believes that the four-time champion will bring the title back to Maranello "sooner or later".