SEBASTIAN VETTEL AND FERRARI-FAIRY TALE THAT ENDED IN SORROW
In 2015, the world thought that Sebastian Vettel would be dominating Formula One with Ferrari, but it was not quite that way...
Sebastian Vettel was dominating F1 together with Red Bull Racing between 2010-2013, but in 2015 he made the move to the most iconic F1 team of all time-Ferrari, and many of us thought that he would again dominate the sport and that he will fulfil his dream of becoming world champion with Ferrari, but it was not quite that way. So I thought that it would be great If I did analysis of his Ferrari career.
2015-FIRST YEAR IN RED
Vettel and Ferrari relationship got off to a great start at season opener Australian Grand Prix, driving his SF15-T to 3rd place thus taking his first podium in red car, but the real surprise came 2 weeks later at Malaysian GP, Vettel qualified on front row, just 0.074 off pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton, after great tactical moves from Ferrari, Vettel was able to get in front of Mercedes's Lewis Hamilton and take his 40th win and his first for Ferrari. This was also first win for Ferrari since 2013 Spanish GP.
Vettel celebrating his first win for Ferrari at 2015 Malaysian GP | Photo credit: FOM
Chinese GP was third race of the season, with Vettel finishing 3rd and picking up his third consecutive podium of the season. What followed was duel in the desert between Mercedes's Nico Rosberg and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel at Bahrain GP. Hard racing between them resulted in Vettel's mistake of running wide at last corner and damaging his front wing, which means that he had to make an extra pit-stop, Vettel finished the race in 5th place. In the famous Monaco GP, Vettel finished 2nd after tactical mistake by Mercedes resulted in Hamilton losing the race win and falling down to 3rd place.
2015 Monaco Grand Prix Podium | Photo credit: FOM
The 7th round of 2015 F1 Season was Canadian GP. That weekend started with bad luck for Vettel, he only managed to qualify P16 with power unit problem, but on sundays race Vettel produced great recovery drive to finish the race in 5th place. Then comes Austrian GP, held at Red Bull Ring, Vettel finished respectable 4th, just a tip off the podium. At Silverstone, the home of British GP, Vettel showed one again that he is master in the rain, qualified only 6th, he managed to get to last podium spot, gaining on front runners on wet conditions.
Hungarian GP was last race before summer break, and it was Vettel's turn to shine again. It was not straight forward win, as he qualified P3, 7 tenths behind pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton. Straight from the start it was chaotic race, Mercedes duo was not so great from the start, dropping places behind Vettel and Raikkonen, Vettel was under pressure by team-mate Raikkonen and compatriot Nico Rosberg, but he fended off that pressure to take his 41st victory and he dedicated that win to Jules Bianchi, who sadly lost his life that weekend.
The 11th round of 2015 F1 Season and first after summer break was Belgian GP at Spa-Francorchamps, Vettel only managed to get P9 in qualifying after mistake at final chicane, but he made good recovery drive to P3 only for his tire to explode on Kemmel-Straight with less than 2 laps remaining. Then came Temple of Speed-Monza or I should say Ferrari's home race, It was pretty straight forward weekend for Vettel, qualified P3 and finished the race in P2.
It was at Singapore GP that Vettel took first pole position for squad from Maranello, it was first pole position for Ferrari since 2012 German GP, the stunning pole lap was 6 tenths faster than 2nd placed Daniel Ricciardo in Red Bull. On Sunday, Vettel led whole 61 laps to record his 3rd and last win of the season.
Vettel celebrating his 3rd win of the season under Singapore lights | Photo credit: FOM
Japan was another standard race for Vettel in 2015 season, qualified P4 and finished P3, thus talking his 10th podium of the season. In Russian GP, he managed to get fastest lap and 2nd place on the podium. The 16th round of 2015 F1 Season was US GP, Vettel started P13, after taking 10-place grid penalty for changing power unit components, however, he recovered to take last podium spot behind Mercedes-Duo. Next comes Mexican GP, and that was race to forget for Sebastian, he got puncture on lap 1 and had to come into the pits to change his tires, later in that race he made a mistake and crashed outside of turn 7. He scored last podium of the season at Brazilian GP and finished 4th at Abu Dhabi GP.
Vettel racing at 2015 Brazilian GP | Photo credit: FOM
Overall great performances from Vettel during 2015 season, he was the only driver that could challenge dominant Mercedes and he did so with 3 race wins, 1 pole position, 13 podiums and 278 points.
2016 season was a disappointing one for both Vettel and Ferrari, as both sides were expecting to fight for that year's championship, but the car was not competitive enough. The start to the season was not so great. At the first race of the season at the Australian GP, Vettel finished 3rd, almost 10 seconds behind race-winner Nico Rosberg. And 2 weeks later at Bahrain GP he was not even able to start the race as the engine of his Ferrari SF16-H erupted in flames on formation lap.
Vettel racing at 2016 Australian GP | Photo credit: FOM
And Chinese GP was not so much better either, on the first lap of the race Vettel was trying to avoid Red Bull of Danill Kvyat, thus making contact with Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. Vettel had slight damage to his front wing and had to make a pit-stop at lap 3 to change his nose under Safety Car, but he managed to recover and take P2 at checkered flag.
Vettel suffered DNF at Russian GP at Sochi Autodrom, Sebastian started 7th following 5-place grid penalty after gearbox change, approaching turn 2 he was hit from behind by home hero Danill Kyvat, who locked up front wheels at braking, from that contact Vettel suffered a puncture and another hit from Kvyat made him spin in turn 3 and crash into the barriers, ending his race early. It was at Spanish GP that Vettel and Ferrari had a shot at top step of the podium, after crash between Mercedes team-mates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, Vettel was battling for the race win with Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, but in the end of the race, Vettel's 3-stop strategy did not work out in his favor against Verstappen's 2-stop. Verstappen won the race and became youngest F1 race winner, breaking Vettel's record.
Vettel attacking huge kerbs at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya | Photo credit: FOM
The 6th and the most prestigious round of F1 World Championship is of course Monaco GP, which was a challenging one, the race was declared wet, which meant that race will start under SC. Every driver was forced to start on full wet tires. Vettel was first of the front-runners that changed to intermediate tires on lap 14. Sebastian finished the race where he started, in P4, less than 2 seconds behind Force India's Sergio Perez. The first race on American continent was Canadian GP. Vettel qualified P3, just behind Mercedes duo. He made a flying start, overtaking both Hamilton and Rosberg on the way to turn 1. Later in the race Ferrari made tactical mistake by pitting Vettel early forcing him on 2 stops versus Hamilton 1 stop. Vettel was forced to make a mistake under braking on the way to turn 2 to avoid a couple of seagulls on apex of that corner, later in the race he simply did not had any pace to catch the race leader.
Vettel avoiding the seagulls | Photo credit: The News Wheel
The European GP was back this year on the calendar and it was held on Baku City Circuit, Vettel finished respectable 2nd in the race. In Austria on lap 26, he suffered a puncture on start/finished straight and crashed into the wall, he was forced to retire from the race. Next to come was British GP, Vettel finished P9, he got 5 second penalty in the race for forcing Felipe Massa off the track.
In Hungarian GP, Vettel finished P4, less than second behind podium finisher Daniel Ricciardo. In Vettel's home race in Hockenheim, Ferrari lost it's second place in constructors championship to Red Bull Racing. Vettel finished the race in P5.
2016 German GP | Photo credit: Autoblog
Belgian GP was next up on the calendar, and Vettel finished that race in 6th place. It was at Monza, the home of Italian GP and Ferrari's home race that Vettel was back on the podium, he finished the race in P3 behind Mercedes duo. As Formula 1 caravan was back on Asian continent, Vettel race in Singapore started with bad luck, he was forced to start last after taking 25-grid penalty for changing gearbox and PU elements, but amazing recovery drive meant he finished in 5th place. It was at the race at Sepang International Circuit that Vettel made a contact with championship leader Rosberg at opening lap at turn 1. Rosberg spun while Vettel was forced to retire with suspension damage.
Vettel during 2016 Malaysian GP | Photo credit: Wikipedia
At Japanese GP, Vettel scored his first fastest lap and finished the race in P4. Same happened at US GP, Vettel also got fastest lap and finished the race in P4. But it was Mexican GP that Vettel was racing aggressively, he was racing against Red Bull's Max Verstappen, when Max made a mistake under braking and cut first 3 corners, he was ordered by stewards to give position to Vettel, but, instead of giving his position to Vettel, Max blocked him and was helping his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo to get onto the podium. Vettel defended very aggressively, and he got 10 second time penalty for moving under braking. He finished the race in 5th place.
In Brazil, Vettel qualified and finished the race in 5th place. In Abu Dhabi, last race of the season, he was able to get last podium in 2016, finishing in 5th place.
In the end, Vettel's 2016 was not so successful, he got no race wins or pole positions, but he was able to snatch 7 podiums and 2 fastest laps, he earned total of 212 points. In my opinion, both Vettel and Ferrari made some mistakes and car was not competitive enough to fight for race wins.
2017-TAKING ON TITLE FIGHT TO MERCEDES AND HAMILTON
2017 looked like it could finally be their year, Vettel and Ferrari started season strong, in Australia Vettel took race win in season opener thanks to Ferrari's overcut strategy and Vettel's defensive driving, and it was the first time since 2012 that Ferrari led in World Championship standings.
In China, the race started in damp conditions and Ferrari's strategy to change to slick tires early in the race set to look great, until Antonio Giovinazzi put his Sauber into the wall, bringing out the SC and giving everybody a free pit stop, which put Hamilton on better strategy. Later in the race, Vettel produced some brilliant overtaking show, he managed to pass Ricciardo round the outside of turn 6. Hamilton won the race with Vettel in 2nd, which meant that him and Vettel were now tied on points after 2 rounds.
It was Vettel and Ferrari that fought back in Bahrain. Mercedes locked out the front row but Vettel managed to overtake Hamilton going into tight turn 1. Vettel's brilliant driving meant that he was able to undercut Valtteri Bottas for P1, and he took the race win by 6 seconds over title rival Lewis Hamilton.
At Russian GP, Vettel took first pole position for Ferrari since 2015 Singapore GP, and it was a front row lockout. At the start of the race, Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas overtook both Ferrari's and he held that lead the whole race, Vettel was unable to get close to him because of the dirty air, Valtteri by 6 tenths over Vettel. Then time has come for Spanish GP, Vettel took the lead at the start and was stretching that lead until the pit-stop time has come, Mercedes went in for the undercut and was gaining time for Vettel, in the meantime, Bottas tried to cover Vettel but Sebastian produced spectacular overtake going into turn 1. When Vettel came out of the pits and he and Hamilton banged wheels into turn 1. On lap 44, Hamilton overtook Vettel for the lead and went on to win the race.
In the Principality of Monaco, Vettel qualified 2nd behind Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, but managed to get in front of him with an overcut strategy. That was Ferrari's first win in Monaco since 2002 and Vettel's third win of the season. Canadian GP was next up, his race did not started so well, after poor start, Verstappen cut in front of Vettel, damaging his front wing. Ferrari missed out on free pit-stop after the SC, so Vettel had some overtaking to produce, and he did, after falling to last place he managed to recover to 4th place.
The most controversial race of 2017 was undoubtedly Azerbaijan GP. In qualifying, Ferrari were suffering from straight line speed deficit, both Raikkonen and Vettel were slower by whole second from pole-sitter Hamilton. On lap 19 whilst still under safety car conditions Vettel ran into the back of Hamilton, damaging his front wing and Hamilton's rear diffuser. He then drove alongside Hamilton and swerved into his car, to protest what he believed was Hamilton brake-testing him. However, TV replays and car data showed that Hamilton had not applied his brakes at any point during the first collision. The race was red-flagged on lap 22 so that marshals could clear the track. During the red flag, teams worked on fixing their car, Ferrari replaced damaged Vettel's front wing and Mercedes worked on Hamilton's diffuser. On lap 29, Hamilton's head rest suddenly became loose, and he was obliged to pit, 2 laps later, Vettel got 10 second stop-go penalty for dangerous driving. After serving penalty, Vettel emerged in front of Hamilton. Vettel finished the race in 4th, with Hamilton 2 tenths behind in 5th. Vettel extended his gap in world championship to 14 points, while Ferrari was leading Mercedes by 24 points.
Vettel bumping into Hamilton behind SC | Photo credit: FOM
At Red Bull Ring, Vettel qualified 2nd and finished the race at 2nd behind Valtteri Bottas, he simply did not had enough speed to catch him. Going to Silverstone, Vettel is leading drivers championship by 20 points. At Silverstone, Vettel was running 3rd in the race behind the pair of Mercedes, but on the penultimate lap he suffered a puncture going into luffield and was obliged to pit, he dropped to 7th place.
Hungarian was again last race in the calendar before the summer break, Vettel qualified on pole and won the race the next day, he went into break with 14 points ahead of title rival Lewis Hamilton. Then comes the longest track on F1 calendar-Spa-Francorchamps, Vettel finished the race in 2nd behind Hamilton, that race, he did the best with Ferrari's top speed deficit on the straights. But it was at Monza were we saw how big of a top speed deficit Ferrari's cars really have. At wet qualifying, Vettel and Raikkonen qualified 7th and 8th, behind Renault and Mercedes powered cars. It was a tough race for Vettel and Ferrari, Mercedes took 1-2 finish with Vettel down in 3rd, finishing whopping 36 seconds behind race-winner! It was the first time in season that Hamilton took championship lead, F1 caravan went into Asian continent with Hamilton leading by 3 points.
Vettel waving to Tifosi | Photo: FOM
Asian part of the calendar was one to forget for Vettel and Ferrari. After taking pole in Singapore, he was set to take record 5th win on Marina Bay circuit, until racing incident between himself, team-mate Raikkonen and Red Bull's Max Verstappen at the start of the race. Vettel moved left to protect himself from Verstappen, but Raikkonen had fantastic start so Vettel didn't saw him. Verstappen's front left wheel hit Raikkonen who hit Vettel's sidepod. All 3 drivers involved had to retire from the race. Hamilton took clear victory, which meant he extended his lead from 3 to 28 points.
Next up was Malaysian GP, and nightmare for Vettel continuous. As he was preparing to do his first qualifying lap in Q1, he hit turbo problems, forcing him to start the race from the last position, he produced great comeback drive to P4, but with Hamilton in P2, he had not shortened the gap. At Japan, he started the race 2nd, behind Lewis, but was forced to retire on 4th lap with spark plug problems. This was his 2nd DNF in 3 races, which totally demolished his chances of winning world championship.
Vettel at 2017 Japanese GP | Photo credit: FOM
The 17th round of the championship was US GP, Vettel qualified 2nd and finished the race in 2nd, as he could not overtake Hamilton because of speed deficit. It was at Mexican GP that his title-rival Lewis Hamilton sealed 2017 Drivers World Championship, Vettel qualified on pole, but got overtaken by Verstappen on the run-up to turn 1, as they exited turn 3, Vettel hit Hamilton, damaging his front wing and puncturing Hamilton's rear left tire. Both driver's produced great comeback drives, Vettel finished the race in 4th, while Hamilton's 9th was enough to win world championship.
Brazilian GP was penultimate race of the year, Hamilton crashed out in qualifying while Vettel qualified 2nd behind Bottas, Vettel managed to overtake Bottas at the start of the race and he held that lead up until the checkered flag, winning his last race of the season. Vettel rounded up 2017 season with 3rd place in Abu Dhabi.
In my opinion, Vettel's 2017 season was one of his best season's in F1. He took 5 wins, 4 pole positions and 5 fastest laps. Ferrari lacked some speed in second part of the season and with racing incident in Singapore and reliability issues in Malaysia and Japan, there was nothing he could do to stop Hamilton from winning. Plus there were some tactical moves from Ferrari that did not help him at all.
2018-COULD THIS FINALLY BE THEIR YEAR?
Expectations were high for Vettel and Ferrari, he again took win in Australia with Ferrari's tactical masterclass. Bahrain was undoubtedly one of his best races ever. He took pole on Saturday and was leading the race from Bottas on Sunday. He made his first and only pit stop at lap 18. At the end of the race, his tires started degrading and Bottas was breathing down his neck. In the end, he won the race with almost 40 laps old soft tires, with less than second difference between himself and Bottas.
At Chinese GP, Vettel took his 2nd pole of the year and was leading from the start, but after tactical mistake by Ferrari, Bottas was able to undercut him and take 1st position. Later in that race, Toro Rosso duo has collided, which brought out SC. Vettel and Bottas were not able to take tactical advantage of that, because they already passed pit-lane entry. Red Bull duo has profited from that, pitting both of their cars. On lap 43, Verstappen dive-bombed Vettel into hairpin, spinning Vettel out and damaging his floor. Vettel dropped to 8th place at the finish.
2nd edition of Azerbaijan GP was another exciting race, Vettel again took pole position, which was his 3rd pole in the first 4 races. Ferrari finally looked to have straight line speed advantage over Mercedes, first time in the hybrid era. Vettel was leading into first corner and stayed in the lead until pit stop window was opened. He was running second when Red Bull pair collided and brought out SC, but Valtteri Bottas had margin to pit and stay out in the lead. When race resumed, Vettel tried to overtake Bottas going into turn 1, but made a mistake under braking locking his tires up and running wide. He finished 4th. For the first time in 2018, Hamilton took the lead in the drivers championship.
Vettel at qualifying at 2018 Azerbaijan GP | Photo credit: FOM
In Spain he qualified 3rd behind Mercedes pair, but finished the race in 4th as he did not had enough speed to overtake Max Verstappen. It was time for Daniel Ricciardo to take his redemption at Monaco, Vettel qualified 2nd behind him. Ricciardo reported loss of power on lap 28, but Vettel could not get close to him because of dirty air coming off Ricciardo's car. Vettel finished race in 2nd.
It was at Canadian GP that Ferrari brought engine upgrade, at it was a fast one. Vettel snatched pole from Bottas by less than tenth of a second and led all 68 laps, it was a pure masterclass. Vettel also took championship lead after race win, leading by just 1 point.
Vettel during qualifiying at 2018 Canadian GP | Photo credit: FOM
French GP made its return to the calendar for the first time since 2008. Vettel race did not go so smoothly, going into turn 1 on the opening lap, Vettel locked his tires up hitting Bottas. Vettel got damaged nose, while Bottas suffered a puncture. Vettel got 5 seconds time penalty and managed to recover to 5th.
Vettel finished 3rd at Austria following the DNFs of both Mercedes drivers. It was at Silverstone where we saw 2 absolute masterclass's from 2 championship leaders. Hamilton qualified on pole, etching Vettel by just 42 thousands of the second. Hamilton had a bad start, falling down the 3rd going into turn 1. But the worst was to follow, he was hit by Raikkonen and spun in turn 3. He fell down to last position. While Vettel was leading, Hamilton produced great comeback. On lap 32, SC was brought out following the incident on the track, which meant that Vettel pitted for 2nd time and Bottas emerged in front of him. On lap 47, Vettel made a stunning overtake going into 6 to take the lead and the win of the British GP. Hamilton finished close behind in 2nd.
Next up was Vettel's home race at Hockenheimring, he was brilliant at qualifying, taking pole at his home race. Hamilton was forced to start 14th after gearbox problem stopped him from progressing into Q3. Vettel started the race superb, leading until pit stop window when Ferrari made tactical mistake, putting Vettel behind team-mate Raikkonen. On lap 46 Vettel mounted the kerb at the final corner and lost a small portion of his front wing. Then on lap 52, braking into turn 12, Vettel locked the rear brakes and went straight on into the barriers, taking himself out of the race, this caused a safety car so that they could recover Vettel's car. On lap 43, Hamilton started to enter the pitlane but aborted the pitstop after a miscommunication with his engineer, Hamilton then cut back on to the track essentially cutting across the final corner, which resulted in him being under investigation from race stewards, there was no further action regarding that incident. Hamilton won the race from 14th on the grid, which was undoubtedly one of his best drives ever. Hamilton took the lead in the drivers championship, leading by 17 points over Vettel. At Hungaroring, Vettel finished 2nd behind Hamilton which meant that Hamilton increased his lead in the drivers championship by 24 points going into summer break.
Vettel at Spa-Francorchamps | FOM
It was at Belgium GP where Vettel got his redemption. He started 2nd but overtook Hamilton on famous Kemmel-Straight on the opening lap, he held that lead to the end to record 52nd win of his career. At Monza, Vettel's chances of winning world championship had took another beating, as Ferrari opted to let him and team-mate Raikkonen fight for the win, while Vettel was still in the championship fight with Hamilton. On the opening lap, Vettel and Raikkonen were fighting for the lead going into turn 1, Vettel had slower exit from the corner which meant that Hamilton was able to get close to him. In turn 3, Vettel spun while making contact with Hamilton. Hamilton later won the race, while Vettel could only get to 4th place.
2018 Italian GP | FOM
Ferrari's pace was no where in Asian part of the calendar. Hamilton won Singaporean GP with ease, with Vettel down in 3rd. Same in Russia, Ferrari's pace disappeared and Hamilton again won the race, with Vettel again down in 3rd. In Japan, Vettel qualified 9th after Ferrari sent both him and Raikkonen on wet tires while track was still dry. He finished the race in 6th, in the race he made contact with Verstappen while fighting for 3rd position, Vettel spun and fallen down the order.
2018 Japanese GP | FOM
Vettel made another mistake in US GP, he was fighting with Ricciardo on the opening lap, but while going wheel to wheel, Vettel got oversteer mid-corner which resulted in yet another spin. Raikkonen won the race, while Vettel finished down in 4th. Vettel finished 2nd at Mexican GP, but that was not enough to stop Hamilton winning his 5th world championship at that race. At the penultimate round of the championship, the Brazilian GP, Vettel could not find a pace whole weekend and finished the race down in 6th. He finished Abu Dhabi GP in 2nd, behind Hamilton.
In the end, Vettel took 5 race wins, 4 poles, 2 fastest laps and 320 points. It all went downhill for both Ferrari and Vettel after German GP. Relationship between team and driver went down, as both parties did not believe in each other. Vettel made some mistakes in second part of the season and Ferrari were beaten by Mercedes in development race.
There were high hopes for Ferrari and Vettel coming to season opener in Australia, with German setting the fastest lap in pre-season testing in Barcelona. But there was cold sweat for both Ferrari and Vettel when he qualified only third, more than 7 tenths behind pole-sitter Hamilton. Things only got worse in the race, pace was nowhere to be found, Vettel finished the race in P4.
Vettel racing in Ferrari SF90 during 2019 Australian GP
Things got better for Ferrari in Bahrain GP, but not for Vettel. Car showed potential in qualifying, with new teammate Charles Leclerc taking pole with Vettel down in 2nd. Hamilton was catching Vettel throughout the race and eventually caught up to him on lap 38, making a move around the outside at turn 4. Vettel went into a spin on corner exit, saying he got surprised and lost the rear of the car. In the process he flat-spotted his tires, causing severe vibration leading to a front wing failure. Pitting to replace the front wing dropped him to 9th place. He eventually finished 5th.
Chinese GP was 1000th GP since the first World Championship race was held at the Silverstone Circuit in 1950. But the pace was again nowhere to be found. Vettel finished the race down in 3rd. And things were not much better in Baku, he again finished the race in 3rd. At Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, he finished 4th. On the street circuit of Monaco, he finished 3rd, taking his third podium of the season.
It was time for Candian GP, where Vettel and Ferrari showed there is still hope in the tough times. He took magnificent pole on Saturday and started superb on Sunday, he was leading with Hamilton breathing down his neck during whole race.
But whole raced has changed on turn 3 on lap 48. Hamilton had been closely following Vettel, when Vettel went straight on over the grass, missing turn four. As the Ferrari re-joined the track, Hamilton was squeezed towards the outside wall and was forced to slow down to avoid a collision. Vettel has been handed 5-seconds penalty which caused huge controversy in F1 paddock. Over the next thirteen laps, Vettel attempted to build a five-second gap to Hamilton in second. Vettel ultimately crossed the finish line in first place, but was only 1.3 seconds ahead, meaning the victory was awarded to Hamilton.
A moment that decided the whole race | FOM
French GP was another frustrating race for Vettel and Ferrari, as Mercedes took their 7th consecutive win. Vettel finished the race down in 5th. In Austria, Vettel experienced reliability problems, first of many that season. He wasn't able to take part in Q3 due to air pressure line problems, but on raceday he recovered to P4.
Vettel finished British GP down in 16th, a lap down due to mistake while battling Max Verstappen. At next weekend, he went from zero to hero, reliability problems in qualifying meant he could start his home GP at Hockenheim from last place. But Vettel produced masterclass driving to finish the race in P2. Gaining 18 places from the start to finish.
2019 German GP produced one of Vettel's best ever drives in one of the most challenging conditions
Next up was Hungarian GP, both Ferrari cars couldn't do much due to speed difference to Mercedes and Red Bull, but Vettel managed to snatch last podium spot from team-mate Charles Leclerc in the closing stages of the race. Belgium GP was one to forget for whole world of Formula 1, as passing of young Anthoine Hubert in Formula 2 Feature Race shocked whole motorsport world. Vettel's team-mate Leclerc won the race in front of 2 Mercedes cars, with Vettel down in 4th. Vettel was the only one of front-runners to do 2 stop strategy, which didn't pay off in the end.
Italian GP was another race to forget for Vettel, as he spun in Ascari chicane while catching Bottas for P3, he re-joined dangerously on the track he hit Racing Point of Lance Stroll and damaged his front wing, later in the race he got 10 seconds stop-go penalty and finished the race in 13th place. Singapore GP was redemption episode for Vettel, he qualified P3, in the race, Ferrari called him earlier to protect from Verstappen, then, Vettel produced amazing out-lap thus undercutting Leclerc and Hamilton. Vettel took the lead and he held that lead to the checkered flag to take his record 5th win at Singapore.
Russian GP was very controversial race, Vettel qualified P3, behind Leclerc and Hamilton. He started the race very well, overtaking Hamilton straight at the start and Leclerc with the help of a slipstream. In the first few laps, he drove like a maniac, placing fastest lap after fastest lap. Then, he disobeyed team orders that were saying to let Leclerc by, saying that Leclerc need to come closer to him. Ferrari pitted Leclerc first, allowing him to jump in front of Vettel. Lap after making his pit-stop, Vettel retired after MGU-K failure.
At Suzuka, he showed that he is still in his form, taking pole in front of his team-mate. He made a mistake at the start, jumping the lights which didn't trigger the sensors, which meant he escaped penalty. Ferrari lacked race-pace, which meant that he couldn't overtake Bottas for the lead and was chased by Hamilton in the closing laps of the race. But he managed to fend off Hamilton for 2nd. In Mexico, he had pace to fight for the victory against Hamilton due to tire advantage, but still couldn't overtake him and he finished 2 seconds behind Hamilton.
At Circuit of the Americas, he again experienced reliability problems with his Ferrari SF90, in turn 9 on lap 8, he ran over a bumpy section of kerb on the exit of turn 9 causing his right-rear suspension to fail. Brazil was another controversial race. On lap 66 Leclerc overtook Vettel in turn 1, but Vettel, on the back straight, tried to take the position back. The two collided, with Leclerc suffering a broken suspension and Vettel getting a puncture. Both Ferraris retired from the race with terminal damage. Vettel finished the season-closing race at Abu Dhabi in P5.
Overall Vettel finished 2019 season with 1 race win, 2 pole positions and 2 fastest laps. 5 in the drivers standings. He finished 24 points behind team-mate Charles Leclerc, first time that Sebastian lost to a team-mate at Ferrari! Some say that 2019 was one of his worst performances ever, but I don't think so. Did he made mistakes? Absolutely yes. But, don't forget that he was fighting with reliability issues whole year in a car that didn't suit his driving style. Did Leclerc suffered from reliability issues also? Yes he did. But in no comparison as Vettel did. Also let's not forget that in some races, such as Russia, he was thrown under the bus by his own team.
2020 started with bad news for Vettel, he was fired by Ferrari even before the season started. The season-opener race was hugely delayed by COVID-19 pandemic in the world. Forcing season-opener to be at Red Bull Ring with double racing weekend, starting at 5th July. The first qualifying session of the started with a cold sweat, as Vettel couldn't progress to Q3 as his time was only good for P11 on the grid. Worse was to follow the next day, as he could only score one point while his team-mate Leclerc finished 2nd on the podium.
2nd race at Red Bull Ring, or Styrian GP, was a weekend to forget for whole Ferrari team. At turn 3 of the opening lap, Leclerc dived down the inside of Vettel, who had no-where to go, the pair collided, with Vettel pulling into the pits and retiring the car at the end of lap 1, while Leclerc retired on lap 4. But it was at Hungary were Ferrari brought major upgrades to the car. The pair qualified 5th and 6th with Vettel leading. Vettel finished the race one place down from qualifying position, while Leclerc dropped to P11.
Vettel during rainy 2020 Hungarian GP
After Hungary, many thought that Vettel find his old form again, but unfortunately, that wasn't the case. He finished the British GP in 10th place, with wasn't that big of a deal considering that Leclerc scored his second podium of the season with P3 finish. The second race at Silverstone was called 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, and it was another struggling race for Vettel, as he again couldn't place his Ferrari SF1000 in points scoring places.
It was at Spanish GP, where Vettel produced championship drive, but for position 7. After starting 11th on medium tire compound, Ferrari somehow found out that doing more laps on softs was faster strategy than doing more laps on mediums, so in the end, Vettel managed to do whopping 37 laps on soft compound tire! More than anybody ever expected. Spain was one of the worse weekends for Ferrari in modern Formula 1, as they throw their own driver under the bus for no obvious reason.
Vettel with absolutely heroic drive at 2020 Spanish GP
At Belgium, both Ferrari suffered from straight-line speed deficit to Mercedes, Honda and Renault powered cars. Both Vettel and Leclerc finished out of the points-scoring places. The struggle continued at Ferrari's home race at Monza, this time with extra reliability issues. Vettel was running in the backmarker position's when his brakes failed when he tried to brake for turn 1. Ferrari's second home race at Mugello didn't went much better either, as Vettel could only snatch 1 point at the end of the race.
At Sochi, he crashed in qualifying and finished the race at 13th place. Sebastian's home race wasn't much to be proud of, he finished 11th with no points scored. Portuguese GP returned to calendar after 24 year absence, at Vettel managed to score 1 point at the end of the race. The 3rd race in Italy that year was held at Imola, Vettel again finished out of points-scoring places. Turkey also returned on the calendar, and Vettel shine returned as well. In one of the worst conditions ever, Vettel kept his cool with faultless performances to finish P3.
Faultless performance from Vettel at 2020 Turkish GP
Bahrain GP was the one that everybody wanted to forget from the get go, as Romain Grosjean was involved in huge crash at the start. Vettel finished the race down in P13. The second race at Bahrain Outer Circuit wasn't much better either, as he again finished down in P12. He also couldn't score points in the last race of the season at Yas Marina Circuit.
There were many reason why both Vettel and Ferrari failed. Too many strategic mistakes by Ferrari as well as not clear status who is number 1 and number 2 driver, mixed with Vettel's mistakes costed both sides not to win both drivers and constructors titles and losing trust into each other.