Does Scuderia Ferrari Have The Dumb And Dumber of Driver Parings?
The 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix was action-packed, maybe not from start to finish but it certainly had a beginning, somewhat boring middle, and furious and entertaining finish. Verstappen twice lost the lead and twice fought back on track with Lewis Hamilton to claim victory. But the real talking point was the current situation at the Scuderia Ferrari. Charles Leclerc is the new generation hotshot driver that a young fresh-faced Sebastian Vettel once upon a time was.
Leclerc has toppled Vettel’s status at Ferrari by consistently out-qualifying his 4 times world champion teammate. So much so that Vettel’s personal status is beginning to be questioned by the F1 fraternity. Vettel has to rise up to the challenge Leclerc poses. The problem is Scuderia Ferrari has always had a designated number one driver, whether they admit to it or not. The problem is Ferrari can switch allegiances very quickly from number one to number two if number two is in the ascendency.
Leclerc is very mature and assured for his age. As a result, a psychological battle between the Ferrari drivers has been brewing all season as one attempts to upstage the other. At the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix, that battle spilled out in the open for all to see.
As the two fought one another for position, Leclerc first engaged in squeezing Vettel. Vettel, somewhat undaunted squeezed back. The two collided, Leclerc’s right-front suspension was damaged, Vettel suffered a right rear puncture.
Both Ferraris failed to finish. But it was a dumb and dumber moment because both Vettel and Leclerc are intelligent enough to know better. Vettel has been largely blamed for the incident, but he was right to squeeze Leclerc back because Leclerc instigated proceedings.
There is an unwritten rule in F1 that states two teammates should take all means to avoid colliding with one another. Vettel has sent a message to Leclerc that he will not back down. Leclerc has adopted a squeeze tactic since he was similarly mugged by Verstappen during the early part of the season.
The FIA race stewards did not penalize Verstappen, this inaction by the FIA has left grey area into on-track conduct. Leclerc similarly balked Hamilton at the Italian Grand Prix without receiving any penalty. In Brazil, Leclerc squeezed the wrong driver because, as we now know, Vettel ain’t for being squeezed by anyone.