Where Has Sebastian Vettel Gone?
Where is Sebastian Vettel? Is he missing in action? Where is the four-time Formula One Champion? Has he gone AWOL? Of course, we all know where Sebastian Vettel is. He drives for Ferrari, has been at the Scuderia since 2015 and has won 13 races and secured multiple podiums. The year 2017 was Vettel’s best chance to bring back the world drivers world title to Maranello. Vettel and Ferrari had the strongest package throughout much of 2017. Despite Mercedes having a supposed dominance Ferrari actually had the stronger overall package.
However, both Ferrari and Vettel did not take into account one important factor. Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton and Mercedes should not have won the drivers title in 2017, it was Ferrari’s and Vettel’s championship to lose. And they did lose. Hamilton outdrove the limitations of the Mercedes W08 to keep his title hopes alive.
By the time F1 arrived at the 2017 Singapore GP, the championship battle had tightened up. Vettel secured pole but at the race start he squeezed second place sitter Max Verstappen into a hard-charging Kimi Raikkonen wiping all three out before the first corner was negotiated.
Hamilton went on to win the race, turning a points deficit into championship number four by the season’s end. The year 2018 was another promising start for Ferrari. However Mercedes, aided by an ultra-competitive Lewis Hamilton, secured another championship-winning season.
For 2019 Ferrari thanked Kimi Raikkonen for his services and replaced him with young gun Charles Leclerc. Leclerc has been the faster of the two Ferrari drivers. As for Vettel, he seems to be struggling to adapt his driving style to the requirements of the SF90.
As such Vettel has been out-qualified and outraced by Leclerc. Both drivers had victories in their grasp before the twist of fate intervened, Leclerc at Bahrain and Vettel at the Canadian GP. However, the 2019 British Grand Prix beat another chink in the Vettel armor.
The race at Silverstone was packed full of exciting battles, Hamilton vs Bottas on the opening lap. Leclerc vs Verstappen. Then, later on in the race, the duel for 3rd place between Verstappen and Vettel. Verstappen under pressure from Vettel looked like a tasty battle.
However, the two collided on lap 37 as Verstappen defended going into Club Corner. I still reckon that Vettel should not take the full blame. Verstappen braked late and changed direction at the last minute, leaving no room for Vettel.
Club Corner is a fast entry corner even under braking, with nowhere to go and running out of turning angle Vettel crashed into the back of Verstappen. Both were spectacularly flung out of the race and into the gravel trap.
Vettel’s mistake was not anticipating Verstappen’s change of direction under braking. When racing against Max you should give him space if you are behind and squeeze him as much as you can if you are in front. That’s the Verstappen principle.
The error at Silverstone marks a culmination of errors Vettel has committed over the last 12 months. Perhaps in desperate desire to win for the Scuderia mistakes are creeping in during moments when he needs a steady mind.
So where is Sebastian Vettel? He is currently 4th in the 2019 drivers championship 13 points behind Max Verstappen. That’s 13 race victories for Ferrari, 13 points currently behind Verstappen. He’s there somewhere, we’re just waiting for him to breathe fire again.