It was a difficult year for the quadruple world champion. After being comfortably beaten by Charles Leclerc last season, he was effectively dropped by Ferrari, the Italian team preferring Carlos Sainz for next year.
He undoubtedly wants to prove to them and to the many other critics that he still has it. However, for himself, the best thing he could do was just get away from it all. Here’s why…
No room in the hotel
The most obvious argument in favor of Vettel someday calling it is the fact that there are few, if any, more attractive alternatives available to it.
At this time last year, a fall in the midfield would have been unthinkable for the German. Desperation has made him an option he is considering, but even the best spots outside the top three are already taken for the next few years.
The two most resourceful midfield teams, McLaren and Renault, have already finalized their rosters for the near future. Racing Point, meanwhile, has Sergio Perez, who recently saved the team from a financial disaster, and Lance Stroll, who is the owner’s son. Neither of them is going anywhere.
Even with rule changes, a lower descent on the grid would end his chances of getting back on the podium, not to mention winning a race. Seeing him give up in the lower midfield hoping to get a point or two is a view that few people would want to see, and which he surely would not appreciate.
It’s bad enough to see him do it already in a Ferrari.
Go to the Formula 1 store for all your official Sebastian Vettel merchandise
He loses contact
Certainly, there are many reasons beyond his control that have made his time at Ferrari less successful than he or the team would have hoped. One of the most important factors, however, was his own conduct.
Admittedly, in his first two years with Scuderia, he didn’t have the car to fight for the titles, and he generally made the most of it. In 2017 and 2018 however, he didn’t have that excuse. Both seasons, the Ferrari was often as fast, if not faster, than the Mercedes. Despite this, the team had no title to show, mainly due to Vettel’s failures.
In both cases, after an encouraging start, mistakes crept in and Lewis Hamilton ran away from him. Who can forget Baku in 2017, when he collapsed and deliberately hit his rival? Or his crash in Germany a year later that effectively ended his title hopes? These were mistakes he rarely made during his best years at Red Bull, and were a sign that those glory days were behind him.
Things got worse last season. Faced with a new teammate at Charles Leclerc, Vettel was not even up to him. A victory and two pole positions against two and seven for the Monegasque paint a grim picture. In addition, the German made more mistakes than ever, constantly finding himself in the wrong direction after spinning.
If he was still at the level he had reached, watching him drag a midfielder car over the grid like Alonso did at McLaren could be entertaining and admirable. But recently, chances are he’s not even the best driver on this team.
“Stop while you are [just] in front of “
“But he is not ahead,” you would say. Well, things are not good for Vettel at the moment, but he still has a chance to come out on a relatively high note, especially compared to Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen.
The two former retirees are struggling to score points, Alonso did the same before deciding he would return, and Kimi is currently reviewing the moves at the back of the grid. Whatever bad Ferrari this year will be better than what they were driving and at least give Vettel a final podium shot.
His former teammate, Mark Webber, and fellow countryman, Nico Rosberg, were arguably the only two best drivers from Vettel’s day to start when everything was going well. Webber finished in P2 in his last race while Rosberg won a world championship. We are pretty sure that both have better memories of their retirement than the others because of this.
For its heritage, reputation and peace of mind, Vettel should follow their example. Maybe a driving opportunity for a high-level team will present itself again in 2022, but if not, he can go back to each year of his career and find highlights, assuming 2020 is going well.
If he chose to take a Haas seat next year, for example, we doubt it will.
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