SEBASTIAN VETTEL is feeling the heat.

And that is not just the near-40C temperatures and blazing sunshine here at Hockenheim.

Vettel has 52 Formula One victories since he started racing in 2008, yet is still chasing a first win at the track just 30 miles from where he grew up.

The German, 32, put on a brave face as he tried to answer questions about his form, mistakes and even his future in the sport.

But he goes into tomorrow’s German Grand Prix trailing leader Lewis Hamilton by a whopping 100 points in the drivers’ championship.

Max Verstappen has been linked with a switch from Red Bull to Ferrari, as has Hamilton and Michael Schumacher's 20-year-old son, Mick, is also waiting in the wings.

But four-time world champ Vettel said: “I don’t know how long I’m going to be here but I still love racing.

“The joy I get is the same as it’s ever been and the motivation is high to get the job done with Ferrari.

“That’s the two things dictating whether I’m going to be around for long or not.”

That’s if the decision is still in Vettel’s hands after five seasons with the Italians.

Ferrari were fastest in practice yesterday but Vettel was outpaced in the afternoon by team-mate Charles Leclerc, 21, who is only three points behind his vastly more experienced team-mate in the table.

And the last year has been a shocker for Vettel.

The joy I get is the same as it’s ever been and the motivation is high to get the job done with Ferrari

He arrived at Hockenheim 12 months ago leading the championship and was way out in front in the race when he inexplicably crashed with 17 laps to go.

His nearest rival Hamilton won after starting in 14th place and sped off with his fifth title as Vettel struggled with alarming mistakes at Monza, Singapore, Suzuka and Austin.

This season went from bad to worse as a careless spin under pressure from Hamilton cost Vettel in Bahrain and a penalty stripped him of a much-needed win in Canada when he again crumbled when the Brit attacked.

Then, two weeks ago at Silverstone, came the worst of the lot as he drove into the back of Verstappen, earning himself another penalty.

But Vettel added: “It doesn’t feel like a burden, it feels like a privilege to go out and race for Ferrari.

“My mission is to get back to winning ways. If we do that then we have a much better chance to fight for the championship.

“Obviously this season hasn’t gone the way we wanted after the last two years. But, having said that, I think from when I joined and where we are now things are progressing in the right direction.

“I always put myself under pressure so I cannot be happy if things go wrong.

“But if I get something wrong and make a mistake I can’t be happy with that.

“The pressure I put on myself after that is bigger than any external factors. This has been the same for as long as I can remember.”

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