Formula 1 can be a strange sport. One moment, you can experience the subliminal highs and at the very next, you plunge to the lows. But you often script your own downfall. Often, it’s not the opposition that pushes you to the edge of your fall. Perhaps, the same applies to 32-year-old Ferrari pro-Sebastian Vettel.
It appears, that the four-time world champion is conflicted by some inner demons. In the 10 races held thus far, not once has Vettel- with 52 wins against his name- been able to make it to the top step of the podium. The wide-eyed smile and the famous finger-wagging celebration, F1 has seen none of that.
In a season that has seen Mercedes dominate both Ferrari and Red Bull, making light work of the red cars, in particular, Sebastian Vettel has plunged from one low to the other.
Make no mistake. This is no ordinary talent.
This is a four-time world champion, someone who apart from having the experience of 230 races against his name has claimed 115 podiums.
Alas, he’s failed to deliver for Ferrari ever since joining the elite bandwagon in 2015 and where the current season stands, then Vettel’s endured a lackluster run.
The enthralling Silverstone saga saw Vettel’s ulterior race-craft paint him in unwanted headlines.
A race that was no stranger to drama, Leclerc battling albeit with Max Verstappen to the hilt unfolded something that Sebastian Vettel would be happy to forget.
In Lap 36, within seconds of being passed by the Red Bull, Vettel, in a rather inexplicable move, perhaps emanating from the nervousness to fight back to reclaim third saw him run into the rear of ‘Mad Max.’
What followed was a ten-second penalty that saw him recede from a possible finish on the podium to P16, something none would’ve wanted. At all these times, his teammate battled away and finished with a respectable third, right behind the two Silver Arrows.
But his troubles were exacerbated by the fact that in addition to the 10-second time penalty, the FIA decided to enforce two penalty points on his super license. The final nail in the coffin was Vettel’s finish as if starting from sixth on the grid, well behind the inexperienced Leclerc wasn’t embarrassing.
To his dismay, the former world champion seems to be at loggerheads with a battle on two ends.
Firstly, he’s against the class and composure of a driver of titanic-sized talent. In Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel’s found an antithesis to the current season’s title hopes. To Hamilton’s 7 wins this year, Vettel’s none doesn’t cut an inspiring figure for Ferrari. Moreover, reflect on a simple piece of math and you’d understand the level of Hamilton’s domination.
The past 21 races have seen Hamilton win 15 while Vettel, Raikkonen, and Verstappen have won 1 each. How’s that for a gap, Seb?
Secondly, post the completion of Round 11 of the ongoing season Leclerc now trails Vettel by only 3 points. Who knows what the next race might bring?
Even if one were to keep the growing clamor for Vettel’s Ferrari-exit astray, it appears that Leclerc is giving his older teammate a run for his money.
Wondering how? Very well. Thus far, with 11 races done, Charles Leclerc has out-qualified his teammate on four occasions, including- Bahrain, France, Austria, and Great Britain. Apart from having 2 pole-positions in his maiden year (thus far) with Ferrari compared to a solitary pole for Vettel (Canada), Leclerc has also bagged four consecutive podium finishes, something Vettel hasn’t quite done.
While there’s no doubting the potential of Sebastian Vettel, what’s doubtful is whether the Heppenheim-born would be able to make a breakthrough sometime in the imminent future. As the sport draws closer to the business end of the world championship, perhaps it just makes sense for Vettel to forget about the world title and focus on all that he can achieve in what lies ahead.
His next stop is the famous Hockenheimring, a track where he was leading for the better part of 2018 where a car-handling issue under rains saw Vettel spiral out of control only for Hamilton to take the checkered flag. So how about beginning again from the homeland, Seb?