Lewis Hamilton has backed Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to bounce back from the difficult patch he has been going through for the past year.

The German four-time world champion has made several errors, most recently when he crashed into Red Bull’s Max Verstappen at the British Grand Prix.

Hamilton said: “People can be easily forgetful. I just remember him as a four-time champion and a formidable competitor. You need to keep the respect there and expect him to come back strong.”

Mercedes’ Hamilton beat Vettel to the world title in the past two seasons, after the Ferrari driver started each year strongly only for the team’s form to tail off later in the championship.

And from the French Grand Prix in June 2018, Vettel has made eight errors during grands prix, including crashing out when leading his home race in 2018.

This year’s German Grand Prix takes place on Sunday and Hamilton said: “I don’t think anything in particular has happened with him. The team have struggled. They have had some difficult races.”

Referring to 21-year-old Charles Leclerc, Vettel’s new team-mate this season, the Briton added: “He has a new youngster next to him who is doing a great job as well, so it doesn’t appear to be the easiest of times.”

Leclerc, who was promoted to Ferrari in 2019 in only his second season in F1, has had an inconsistent start to his career with the team, losing out on a victory in Bahrain when his engine went sour, but also making a series of mistakes in qualifying sessions. However, in the past three races he has outpaced Vettel, 32.

“Charles is only in his second season. He has a lot of growing and I can only see him getting stronger. That one I am eager to watch out for,” said 34-year-old Hamilton.

Sebastian Vettel

Vettel says he was his own worst critic when he made mistakes.

“I am very honest to myself; I have always been. That is the way I deal with them,” he said.

“Sitting in the car and driving, I am the best judge. I know what I can do better and what went wrong.

“You take it from there. I can’t be happy if things go wrong and I make a mistake, but I have always been very honest to myself and to anyone who asks.”

He said he believed Ferrari were making progress after a difficult start to a season in which they have not been as competitive as expected.

“We are getting the hang of it. We understand more and more what we need,” Vettel said. “We are going in the right direction.

“We have had small hiccups here and there leading to not the greatest results, but most importantly we need to keep our heads down and go in the right direction.”

How to follow the German Grand Prix on the BBC

From 26 to 28 July, BBC Sport has live coverage of practice, qualifying and the race across the BBC Sport website, BBC Radio 5 Live and 5 Live Sports Extra, plus live digital coverage on the BBC Sport website and app – including audience interaction, expert analysis, debate, voting, features, interviews and audio content.

You can follow all the action and the latest news on the BBC Sport F1 page and via the BBC Sport app, and catch up with analysis and interviews with the BBC Radio 5 Live Chequered Flag podcast.

German Grand Prix coverage details (all times BST)
DateSessionTimeRadio coverageOnline text commentary
Chequered Flag podcast: German Grand Prix review – download here once the race has finished
Thursday, 25 JulyPreview19:30-20:30 – Download here once the programme has airedBBC Radio 5 Live
Friday, 26 JulyFirst practice10:00-11:30BBC Sport onlineFrom 09:30
Second practice14:00-15:30BBC Sport onlineFrom 13:30
Saturday, 27 JulyFinal practice11:00-12:00BBC Sport onlineFrom 10:30
Qualifying14:00-15:05BBC Radio 5 LiveFrom 13:00
Sunday, 28 JulyRace14:10-16:00BBC Radio 5 LiveFrom 12:30