Sebastian Vettel would have been world champion if he had the same support from Ferrari as Lewis Hamilton did from Mercedes.
That is the claim from former Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone as he reflected on another year of close but not close enough for his good friend.
After a strong start to the year that saw the German leading the championship at the halfway point, the season fizzled out from Monza onwards through what many considered as a combination of errors by both driver and team.
Ecclestone, however, disagreed: “Lewis Hamilton is a deserved 2018 F1 champion and Vettel an undeserved second in the championship,” the Briton told Auto Bild.
“Lewis was outstanding this year but he also had the full support of the team. You can’t say that for Sebastian."
Bernie, who now holds the title of chairman emeritus in F1 after being displaced by Chase Carey at the start of 2017, also believes a sad event in July proved the deciding factor.
“After [Sergio] Marchionne’s death, a strong hand was missing and there was more chaos than structure," he claimed.
“From the outside, you had the impression that Ferrari did more for Kimi [Raikkonen] than for Sebastian.
“Sebastian is a victim, not the culprit," Ecclestone stated. "If Vettel had the same support like Lewis, Vettel would have also become champion this year.
“A team needs to strengthen their star driver not weaken him.”
Another key figure who believes the sudden death of the former Ferrari chairman played a significant role in the team's dip was former team boss turned FIA president Jean Todt.
"Talking about Ferrari I would like to have a word about Sergio Marchionne," he said to Sky Sports.
"It has been a very sad and unexpected death and he was a strong leader, he loved what he was doing but his heart was with Ferrari and F1.
“He was so keen to have Ferrari at the top level and Ferrari is at the top level but little things were missing.
"Sometimes they had the best package, sometimes it did not happen and at the end of the day all was finalised at the second part of the season where Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes took the lead."
18 Thoughts from F1 2018: Are Williams o
Ricciardo: Taking Renault 'to the next l
Norris wants to 'beat Sainz at every rac
Vettel has one problem with Kubica's F1
Pirelli has asked teams to simulate mand
McLaren 'very happy' with Renault, expec
Schumacher chooses Ferrari Academy over
Stroll matched Ocon in the simulator and
Wolff identifies race where he 'felt the
Sainz: McLaren aiming to lead the midfie
Marchionne death was a 'big loss' to Fer
Stewart hails Verstappen and arrival of
Kubica suggests Williams ignored initial
Bottas to contest Arctic Lapland Rally i
Vettel unsure if he'll enjoy same Ferrar
Alonso was 'never on the right team at t
Verstappen: F1 success 'a lot easier' fo
Mercedes had a pace advantage over Ferra
Ecclestone reveals Silverstone bid and f
Bianchi death & personal reasons re-shap
Hamilton had to be reigned in during sup
Norris believes McLaren more focused on
Grosjean: I have same desire to win as A
Verstappen only wanted to make Renault '
Kubica talks up F1 return: 'I know what
Wolff: Leclerc save at Spa vindicates Ha
Mexico GP future plunged into doubt by n
Wolff again raises prospect of future Sc
Sainz feels no pressure replacing Alonso
Hamilton just a 'chink in a chain' at Me
Raikkonen surprised by similarities betw
Renault reveal huge power deficit to eng
Verstappen still peeved by 'unfair' Monz
Hakkinen draws comparison to his early c
Mercedes' 2019 engine not yet hitting pr
Hulkenberg not so interested in comparis
Ecclestone warns against rise of street
Hartley hints Toro Rosso exit was politi
FIA concludes Halo did prevent Alonso's
Ricciardo: Process of making 2019 decisi
Brown: McLaren's 2018 a result of years
Giovinazzi expecting 'tough' start along
Pirelli: Tyres not only to blame for con
Vettel gets Di Montezemolo support: Schu
Ericsson tips - and hopes - Leclerc to '
Magnussen has 'almost forgot' what wins
Red Bull worried of help Ricciardo can g
Ericsson claims F1 is 'artificial' in co
Gasly will give Verstappen the 'hardest
Renault: 2019 potential depends on Red B
Russell wants to work with Kubica to pus
Racing Point will not be Force India's n
Hamilton expecting another title fight w
Ferrari admit possible benefits but want
Verstappen & Leclerc will be F1's new Ha
Schumacher's 2006 retirement left Ferrar
Sirotkin: 2019 Williams seat 'looked qui
Liberty 'trying' for Silverstone deal bu
Verstappen hints at 'Plan B' if Red Bull
Ricciardo denies money the cause for fai
Alonso leaving F1 akin to 'Real Madrid w
Gasly & Verstappen a 'good partnership'
Bottas rejects idea of seeking Rosberg a
Leclerc can be the 'incentive' Vettel ne
Todt suggests Verstappen becomes a stewa
Hamilton unscathed from minor crash duri
Perez admits Ocon relationship 'was neve
Red Bull's 2018 season could have been "
Alonso bemoans loss of engine noise in F
Ocon predicts busier 2019 as Mercedes re
Albon: Red Bull program was my only real
Bottas to approach 2019 'like I have not
Force India's new name & 2019 driver num
Force India officially confirm Lance Str
Mick Schumacher amazed by performance of
Norris keen to have 'valuable' Alonso ad
Schumacher 'as we all remember him' and
Ferrari claim the 'real Vettel' was back
Hamilton 'more relieved' after Mercedes
Verstappen admits bold Ocon moves in Abu
Force India rue costly races after faili
Bottas the 'only slight flaw' for Merced
Ricciardo 'confused' by Red Bull pace is
Williams: 'No one in the team' has doubt
Bottas & Vettel sense little difference
Brawn: 'Unacceptable' podium record for
Haas won't appeal decision of Abu Dhabi
Kvyat after Toro Rosso test return: It's
Leclerc savours 'special' first day as a
Sainz claims McLaren move a 'dream come
Rosberg: Ferrari lacked 'cohesion' after
Alonso adds Daytona 24 return to 2019 ra
Leclerc leads on Ferrari debut as Pirell
Vettel crashes but leads Day 1 of Abu Dh
McLaren right to drop Honda because the
Russell hails 'good feeling' with Willia
FIA has the power to introduce 2021 F1 r
Mick Schumacher confirms F2 ride with Pr
Hartley 'much stronger' and wants F1 ret
Vettel admits he and Ferrari have room f