Shortly after the shocking creation of his Instagram account, Sebastian Vettel introduced his shock retirement from F1 on the finish of the season. With 4 world titles, 53 grand prix victories and over 120 podium finishes, Vettel’s statistics put him among the many absolute best drivers in F1 historical past.
Regardless of these spectacular statistics, Vettel usually doesn’t get the popularity he deserves together with his failure to win the title with Ferrari usually cited as to why. He obtained shut in 2017 and 2018 however completed runner-up to Lewis Hamilton on each events.
His failure to topple Hamilton was in the end his undoing as Ferrari’s rising star – Charles Leclerc – shone in his first 12 months with the group in 2019 which led to Ferrari changing him one 12 months later in favour of Carlos Sainz.
Quick ahead to 2022, Ferrari have – on common – the quickest automobile this 12 months however Leclerc trails Max Verstappen by a whopping 80 factors, eight wins to 3 within the Dutchman’s favour. Poor reliability and technique errors have been all too frequent for 2022 however it was no completely different throughout Vettel’s years with the group, made worse by Mercedes usually having a major efficiency benefit (other than the primary half of 2018).
Regardless of two notable driver errors this 12 months, followers have been usually extra sympathetic in direction of Leclerc on account of Ferrari’s errors on the pit wall. It was no completely different throughout Vettel’s tenure with the group which is why he deserves extra credit score for his time at Maranello.
Reliability, not Vettel prices Ferrari probably the most
Vettel’s 2017 marketing campaign is up there as considered one of his greatest alongside 2011, 2013 and 2015 (his first 12 months with Ferrari). Regardless of Mercedes having a major efficiency benefit over Ferrari, significantly in qualifying with their ‘celebration mode’, Vettel nonetheless led the championship standings by seven factors up till the Italian Grand Prix within the second half of the 12 months.
Up till that time, Vettel was faultless, profitable three of the opening six races, whereas premature Digital Security Vehicles price him potential victories in China and Spain. Conversely, whereas Hamilton was Vettel’s nearest menace, he was nowhere close to as constant within the faster automobile, struggling for tempo in Russia, Monaco and Austria, the place he was out-performed by new teammate Valtteri Bottas, who gained two of the aforementioned races.
Apart from his blistering on-track tempo, Vettel silenced any doubters about his wheel-to-wheel potential with some breathtaking overtakes. Vettel confirmed excellent racecraft: On Ricciardo into Flip 6 in China, Bottas on the start-finish straight in Spain, and Ocon at Flip 1 in Canada – all spring to thoughts.
Vettel headed into Singapore three factors forward of Hamilton however with the upcoming tracks (notably Singapore, Malaysia, Mexico and Brazil) anticipated to swimsuit Ferrari, a fifth title was a critical chance. The title race turned on its head at Marina Bay as Vettel crashed out from pole place on the opening lap of the race after an incident with Verstappen and teammate Kimi Raikkonen.
Many see Singapore because the race that price Vettel the title however reliability points in Malaysia (an engine challenge in qualifying when he was near-certain to take pole) and one other electrical challenge in Japan had been deadly blows. Vettel did certainly make two notable errors (Street-rage in Baku and Singapore Lap 1) however even with an error-free marketing campaign, the mechanical points would have undone his near-perfect season.
Mercedes’ reliability, however extra importantly, common efficiency benefit tipped the title in Hamilton’s favour and on condition that Bottas completed simply 58 factors off regardless of having yet one more DNF than Hamilton clearly reveals it was in all probability the worst of his seven title triumphs.
Ferrari’s incompetence results in Vettel’s downfall
Vettel was as soon as once more Hamilton’s nearest challenger in 2018 however this time Ferrari had stolen a march with their energy unit, permitting it to lastly compete with Mercedes in qualifying, Like in 2017, Vettel was on hearth within the early a part of the season however luck wasn’t solely on his aspect.
Vettel was spun out of third place by Verstappen in China, whereas a second cease in Spain price him second to Bottas and Verstappen. This eroded the early lead Vettel had constructed up with back-to-back victories in Bahrain and Australia, whereas he ought to have gained in Azerbaijan with out the late Security Automobile.
Earlier than his notorious crash, cracks had been already beginning to present for Ferrari on the Hockenheimring with the group failing to make use of group orders when Vettel got here out behind Raikkonen. The German complained of overheating tyres and misplaced important time earlier than overtaking on Lap 39.
Regardless of dropping the win on dwelling soil, Vettel remained in title rivalry after profitable the Belgian Grand Prix. Nevertheless, Ferrari’s incompetence as soon as once more emerged in Monza qualifying because it was Raikkonen who would profit from the tow and subsequently declare pole place, reasonably than Vettel, who was Ferrari’s greatest hope of profitable the title.
From that second onwards, the season fell aside for Vettel and Ferrari as a number of errors mixed with Ferrari’s poor automobile improvement as soon as once more handed Hamilton the title – his fifth total on the time. Vettel did make quite a few errors (Japan and USA) however realistically they had been inconsequential by way of the title race with Mercedes stealing the higher hand in outright efficiency.
Poor technique, an absence of reliability and no decisiveness with group orders is a well-known story for Leclerc in 2022 – all issues that compromised Vettel and led to his final downfall.
Admittedly, Vettel wasn’t good throughout this time with Ferrari however even with perfection, it in all probability wouldn’t have been sufficient to topple the may of Hamilton and Mercedes. Leclerc faces an analogous problem with the Verstappen-Purple Bull mixture.
As Vettel came upon, counting on his personal brilliance gained’t be sufficient, and with out basic modifications behind the scenes at Maranello, Ferrari’s title drought since 2007 will possible proceed for years to return.