It’s time to talk about Seb
With hopes slowly fading for the Vettel renaissance we all wanted to see, will the picture of his future legacy in Formula 1 begin to change?
It certainly hasn’t been the start of the season that Aston Martin wanted, with a disappointing show in Bahrain, followed by a lacklustre performance in qualifying for this weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, from Vettel, placing his car, behind the Williams of George Russell, we are not even two races into the season, and surely questions have to be asked about the lack of pick up from Vettel. How much of this can be attributed to adaption to a new machine, but also should we be asking whether the spark that was once alight inside of Sebastian has been snuffed out?
We all saw the slow degradation of the full-time well champion during his time at Ferrari, with the hostility and tensions being abundantly clear in the last season of Drive to Survive. When the news was announced of Vettel’s is moved to Aston Martin, for this year and beyond, I think it took a vast majority of the paddock by surprise that the 33-year-old German had managed to secure such a rewarding contract from the Silverstone outfit.
Evaluating the team’s performance at Bahrain cannot be a pleasure for the likes of Lawrence Stroll, with Lance finishing P10, and Vettel in P15 behind the Williams of Russell, Esteban Ocon’s Alpine and the two Alfa Romeo’s of Giovinazzi and his former teammate Kimi Raikonnen.
Starting 20th on the grid after a 5-second penalty for failing to respect double yellow flags during qualifying, Seb was already on the back foot going into the race, but in a car that at the same location a few months prior had finished 1st and 3rd at the end, with Perez coming back from 20th at the end of the first lap, it should have surely been easy for a 4-time world champion to make the same dart through the field and claim even a good set of points.
Alas no, an uninspiring performance, coupled with clumsy mistakes handed the german a finish well outside of the points, with the son of 7 times World Champion and rookie, Mick Schumacher, placing not far behind on his Formula 1 debut. This is hardly a flattering endorsement for Sebastian as someone to coach Lance Stroll into the position where he can fight for World Championships of his own.
Above: Sebastian with Michael / Below: Sebastian with Mick
It’s understandable that a toxic work environment can be deeply demoralising for anyone forced into a continued relationship with that entity. I think it’s fairly easy to imagine the pressure that Ferrari; the organisation and the reputation must place upon its drivers, Ferrari cannot lose and Ferrari cannot be wrong, so, therefore, it is only those two people that represent Ferrari over a three day weekend that determines its success or failure. You either give Ferrari everything, or you give it nothing; that is what crushes drivers beneath it.
I of course believe it to be necessary that we give him time to focus on settling into his new team and understanding the different machine, but the telltale signs right now are neither promising nor helping Aston Martin promote their brand in the way that he was hired for. We all hoped for a RedBull-style renaissance from Seb; a revival of all that was great about the pre-V6 hybrid era, and his early Ferrari days, but I think hope for such a turn around are quickly fading, with the reality of the situation looking like a far more complex and deeply rooted problem.