• Vettel and Ferrari have ended their six-year partnership
• Vettel failed to capture the championship for the Scuderia
• Vettel continuously performed poorer after each passing season
Sebastian Vettel will be remembered for several things, most notably his years at Red Bull and capturing the drivers’ championship for four years on the trot.
But after that, nothing noteworthy springs to mind. His switch to Ferrari in 2015 bared no fruit, and after six seasons, the two parties agreed to end their tenure. Vettel won a few races for the Scuderia and came close to winning the championship on more than one occasion, but life at Ferrari was just not as romantic as everyone thought it’d be.
Here’s how Vettel’s stay at Ferrari played out.
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Sebastian Vettel Image: Emmanuel Dunand / AFP
The mud trampler
2014 was a tough year for Vettel. For the first time, a team mate (Daniel Ricciardo) had beaten him throughout a full season. It was a shocker because Vettel had just won four drivers’ championships between 2010 and 2013. Like Martin Brundle, some believed that Vettel deliberately drove poorly in 2014 to activate an exit clause in his Red Bull contract, which opened the door for him to sign with Ferrari.
Come 2015, and Vettel has a strong as possible start to his Ferrari tenure. In Australia, the opening race of the season, he finished in third place but opened his Ferrari account with victory at the following race in Malaysia. Vettel would continue to have an up and down season, raking in a few fifth-place and a twelfth place finish in Hungary. Whereas Lewis Hamilton (driving for Mercedes) was Mr. Consistent, Vettel trampled in the mud and finished the season 97 points adrift of his Mercedes rival.
2016 was even worse for Vettel. While Nico Rosberg won the championship ahead of Hamilton, Vettel failed to finish the season in the top three! His former Red Bull team mate, Ricciardo, ended the season in third place, with Vettel in fourth. Throughout the season, Vettel suffered four(!) retirements and finished outside the podium more times than he’d have liked.
Sebastian Vettel. Image: Andrej Isakovic / AFP
Two close calls
2017 was Vettel’s first real shot at the title. Over the first nine races of the season, he had the better of Hamilton – outscoring the Mercedes driver on multiple occasions. At the tenth race, the British Grand Prix, however, things began to turn for Vettel. And not for the better. A series of bad results culminated in Vettel’s grip on the points table slipping away from him. And much of it was to blame on driver errors. Vettel ended the season on 317 points versus Hamilton’s 363.
In 2018, Vettel again ended the season in second place, but his points difference to Hamilton was 88: 320 vs. 408. Vettel won five races in 2018, but it was overshadowed by the 11 dominating victories Hamilton signed to his name. While the Ferrari wasn’t on par with the Mercedes, Vettel continuously failed to live up to his championship profile.
2019 was one of Vettel’s worst in F1 since winning his first championship in 2010 – the other being 2014. And for the second time in his career, a team mate (new Ferrari recruit, Charles Leclerc) beat him over the course of a season. Vettel made unforced errors in races, went touched wheels with his team mate, and failed to get the most out of the machinery at his disposal. He ended the season in fifth place overall with 240 points to his name.
Vettel will be looking to extend his F1 stay beyond the end of 2020, but failing to do so could see him retire from the sport. His race craft and skill dwindled since 2013, and he is far removed from the personality that meticulously carved his way through a championship season.
Vettel’s time in F1 has come. And maybe it’s time he realised it.
Sebastian Vettel. Image: TeamTalk
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