Sebastian Vettel has revealed how letters from fans helped give him “energy” to rebound from recent disappointments as he ended his 22-race victory drought in the Singapore GP.

Although Vettel’s return to F1’s winner’s circle was not without controversy and good fortune, as an early pit stop when running third saw him jump team-mate Charles Leclerc, the four-time champion’s performance from there onwards was assured as he led home Ferrari’s first one-two of 2019.

“Well done Seb. He got the job done,” said Sky F1’s Martin Brundle. “There are going to be some interesting conversations after the race because obviously Leclerc feels that was snatched away from him, but for the strategy and the choices they took, Vettel has made it work – especially through the traffic when it mattered.”

Ferrari explain why Vettel was pitted firstLeclerc frustrated by strategy

The victory was a record fifth for Vettel in Singapore and the 53rd of his F1 career – the third-highest total in history – but ended a barren run which had stretched back to the Belgian GP of August 2018.

The subsequent 13 months had seen the 32-year-old’s form routinely called into question amid mistakes in racing combat and, more recently, the superior form of Leclerc, who had won the previous two events.

In the immediate aftermath of his victory, Vettel personally thanked the fans who had supported him. He later elaborated on how they had got in touch in the wake of his costly spin at Monza a fortnight ago, helping energise him for this weekend.

“A lot of little notes, letters – hand-written letters,” revealed Vettel. “Obviously people make the effort to write something and when you find a little bit of time in the evening to go through, it’s really encouraging I have to say,” explained Vettel.

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The top three react to their performances at the Singapore Grand Prix

The top three react to their performances at the Singapore Grand Prix

“When you start it’s very difficult to imagine people following you and these kind of things but recent years, especially here in Asia, I have a lot of fans that come over and over again.

“I just got a lot of energy in the last couple of weeks just from messages I received from the racing world, from people that I know from a long time ago, but especially fans after Monza and then coming here.

“People sharing their own story of when things are up and when things go down.”

Vettel added: “For us, everything is centred around racing but it’s really not the most important thing. You read through some of the notes and people struggling in life, some very intimate and private [stories], it gets to you and it gave me a lot of belief and a lot of confidence to just keep trying.”

Vettel reflects on 2019 strugglesSpeaking frankly about what has proved a disappointing season so far, Vettel said he never felt as though his speed was an issue but that “things maybe weren’t falling in place”.

“I messed up in the race in Monza – that’s my mistake. It’s part of the game,” he said.

“I have been around for a long, long time and it’s just how the tide turns sometimes. I have the highest expectations to myself and I’m not happy when I’m not delivering what I know I can.

“Certainly, I had moments this year where I was struggling to just get it out. I know that I can improve from there, so I can’t be happy with that, but equally, I know it wasn’t as bad or disastrous as maybe people put it together.