He seems to have lost competitiveness, but will he see brighter days in the near future?
The situation for the German driver does not look particularly good as we approach the end of the season. It is undeniable that he is still one of the fastest around in the Circus, and in the last ten years, he has gained the necessary experience and maturity to improve his race craft and race strategy thinking. The Vettel we look at now surely is vastly different from the one we were looking at in his early days of Formula 1. He has amassed such a number of races, podiums, wins (not to count World Titles), so much so that whenever the end of his career will be, he has surely earned a place in the records and will be forever counted among the greatest in the sport.
However, it is also true that he still seems to suffer from that emotional side of his character that has always been one of his marking traits. Vettel has struggled all the time to keep his sentiments at bay, and has made plenty of mistakes throughout his history that were easily avoidable if only he maintained a stronger focus on the present and, sometimes, on the big picture too.
Think of Turkey 2010, Canada 2011, Brazil 2012, Germany 2018, and his unnecessary scrambles with Webber, the confrontation with Ricciardo, ended with him changing colours for Ferrari. Everything seemed to be fine again with Räikkönen, who was indeed the perfect wingman, but now, when teamed with the younger talent Leclerc, which has indeed started to shine, his star seems to have dimmed instead.
Ferrari cannot afford to have such a prestigious driver delivering so little on one of their cars, and the Italian press is already putting enough pressure on the German driver. His contract with the Prancing Horse will be over at the end of the 2020 season. What will happen next?
Some say that a return in Red Bull might be a viable option. Is it? Returning to Red Bull means get teamed up with Verstappen, an even more difficult presence than the one he had to confront himself with in his older days, with the then young talent Ricciardo. Would someone like Vettel accept to become a mere wingman and tester, like Räikkönen at Alfa Romeo? Some other say that Mercedes would be on the lookout, but would a centralizing figure like that of Hamilton, who is known to suffer from psychological pressure when put in competition with his teammates, serenely accept to have him on board?
For sure, it is sad to see Vettel coming to this point. He himself seems disappointed and disenthralled, and while some of his ‘bold’ outings of his early career days still resonates, it is true that he has grown so much as a person, deserving sympathy and admiration. In a way, he seems down the same path Alonso was not long ago. They both not deserve that. Let us hope things will shift soon for the four times world champion.
What do you think? Is Vettel still a competitor for the future editions of the F1 drivers’ championship? Will he move from Ferrari? Where to? Will his career be over at the end of next season instead? Let us know, in the comment section below!
For more from the world of Formula One, head on over to the Formula One sub forum here at RaceDepartment!
Like what we do at RaceDepartment? Follow us on Social Media!