- Vettel at German Grand Prix

Did Germany 2018 Change Vettel As a Driver?

It seems he has not been the same since.

12w ago

Sebastian Vettel crashed at his home Grand Prix in Germany at the Hockenheimring. This crash seemingly did not just cost him a win but also the chance at his fifth world title. Most notably, this seemed to be where Vettel changed as a driver.

The race was a significant moment within the 2018 Formula 1 World Championship. The whole weekend was crucial. In qualifying, fans (including me) believed it was the end of Hamilton's bid for the title as he has a hydraulic issue in Q2, meaning he started 14th. It ended up being a turning point as Vettel put himself in the gravel.

After this race, Vettel differed from competing toe-to-toe with Hamilton. The first half of the season, it had been neck and neck with Mercedes and Ferrari. But the crash in the gravel seemed to end this.

Vettel seemingly lost some confidence in himself as a driver. His next and last win of the season came in Belgium, Spa. But he then failed to win until Singapore in 2019. (Obviously, he should have won in Canada 2019).

Quickly after Germany, Kimi Raikkonen started outperforming Vettel on many different occasions. The biggest one came at Monza when Raikkonen took pole position and beat him in the race as Raikkonen finished 2nd. When Vettel spun after clashing with Hamilton, it meant the win was gone. It became quickly noticeable Vettel was not the driver he used to be.

The 2018 Singapore Grand Prix saw something unexpected. That track was pretty much Ferrari's win for the taking. Until Vettel made a mistake in free practice two, which meant he was not as prepared for qualifying and the race as he typically would.

Instead, Hamilton produced a special lap and took the race from Ferrari. When we were all knew Mercedes should have never won or had the pole position.

Hamilton ate up the rest of the 2018 season to claim title number five, of now seven. But if you looked at the statistics during 2018, the whole story was not there.

Now we can talk all about how Germany affected him. It will never be known to us if this was the race that changed him. But what can be confirmed is Charles Leclerc, as a teammate, changed him.

The 2019 season was really when Vettel's driving seemed not the same. He was convincingly beat by Leclerc throughout the whole season and then the same again in 2020.

But this was not the first time this happened to Vettel. Look at his final season at Red Bull Vettel was beaten by Daniel Ricciardo. So it had occurred once before. However, it didn't trigger Vettel to become worse.

Leclerc stunned us all with how well he did. Vettel, in comparison, was underwhelming. The loss to his teammate seemed to hit him, as explained. Ferrari then favoured Leclerc. Which likely played into why he declined.

Now Vettel seems on track a shell of the driver he once was. Vettel still will have skills and so much talent. But we need to see it. We, as fans, want to see it. It is has nothing to do with age look at Hamilton and Schumacher, they got better and better as they aged. So it feels like that cannot be the reason for this downfall.

It feels Germany affected him. But so did Leclerc as his teammate. As suddenly, Vettel was not number 1 and not winning as much as Leclerc was.

Even now, while at Aston Martin, Vettel still does not seem the same. He is yet to score points this season. Whereas teammate Lance Stroll has scored points in the few races we have had. But analysing his time at Aston isn't something to do yet because there have been three races.

Is Vettel the same driver he once was? No. Honestly, I would love him to be because he was one brilliant driver in his prime. He is a driver that needs to be able to fight in the midfield. Especially, when there are drivers like Fernando Alonso and Ricciardo racing in the midfield.

F1 is also all psychological, I am not qualified to talk about that. But mind games always occur in F1, and the effect a single race will have can be big. It is well known when competing for a title there will be a mental battle, it seemed the likes of Germany 2018 and Canada 2019 have partly destroyed him psychologically as a driver.

But hopefully, this season develops positively for Vettel and we see some brilliant battles.

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Comments (15)

  • I've thought the same since then. He just hasn't seemed on the pace since then at all and whilst the crash was obviously not great, especially at your home race, I'm surprised it's impacted him this much. Never seen such a downward curve from a multiple World Champion before. If he doesn't get back up to speed this season, won't be surprised if we don't see him on the grid next year.

      2 months ago
  • It's really sad. The race before Germany, he was on peak form and nailed the victory at Silverstone - I seriously haven't seen Vettel drive as well after that. But I'm still a massive Seb fan and will keep hoping he gets his confidence back soon!

      2 months ago
  • About age, if ageing made Hamilton and Schumacher better as a racing driver that doesn't mean it would be the same for vettel each human being is different their thought process is different and if we observe closely vettel as a human being since 2009 you could gradually see vettel ageing mentally he matured a lot. I suspect age has to do with vettel losing he's the outright speed at least in one lap scenarios. And you can see vettel has become more human in the car on his radio and reactions and all that it is clear he's mindset has slightly shifted and the day these drivers become human they'll lose that will to find that extra tenth on the cost of their lives ( safety is improved )

      2 months ago
  • Have to agree. I’m hoping for better this season because we know he’s good but it’s just such a shame

      2 months ago
  • Great article. Thank you. And I agree. Seb has had setbacks before, being beaten by Danny Ric at Red Bull was one.

    He certainly has lost his mojo since they race in Germany, though.

      2 months ago