The Decision to Let Vettel Go Could Prove to be a Massive Mistake
The Scuderia brought in the driver and then basically left him behind
In 2015, Sebastian Vettel transferred to Ferrari’s F1 team after having four fantastic years with Red Bull. He joined in the hopes, as many drivers do with Ferrari, to win a handful more World Championships. However, since the inception of the partnership, especially in the last couple of years, Ferrari hasn’t exactly been an easy team to work with. Based on observations of how things have been, Ferrari doesn’t appear to have been very patient with Vettel, and as a result, they’ve left him behind.
"When Sebastian joined Ferrari, it was like a match made in Heaven."
When Sebastian signed on with Ferrari for the 2015 season, everyone believed that it was a match made in Heaven. I mean, just in the previous years, Vettel had won pretty much every championship, and now he was with the Italians! It was perfect. Not to mention, Schumacher, who was Vettel's idol growing up, had raced for the same team just a decade prior.
2015, which essentially was the beginning of the turbo-hybrid era, marked the beginning of the relationship of Ferrari and Vettel. He went on to start off the season with a bang and he continued the season performing strongly. Despite the somewhat faulty equipment of the car, Seb soldiered on, going on to give the Silver Arrows a run for their money. He had a decent first season with the team. However, it was from here that things slowly started to go downhill.
"Poor strategy lead to Seb losing pole after pole."
The 2016 season began with a decent start from both Vettel and Ferrari. In the first few races, Sebastian often led the grid, getting podium finishes left and right. Then the Canadian GP rolled around. Vettel lead the grid, lap after lap, constantly defending and holding off the mighty Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes, until disaster. Ferrari made a bad strategic call, as they told Seb to come in during a VSC for a tyre change which resulted in him losing his lead, allowing Hamilton to take pole and go on to win the race. From Canada onwards, poor strategy from Ferrari led to Vettel losing pole after pole.
Stragic errors were one thing, but technical faults, those were on a whole different level of heartbreak. Gearbox swaps, tire blow-outs, and pretty much everything else in between kept on striking at the most critical moments of the season, causing him to have to put up even more of a fight in order to stay in the front of the pack. Additionally, faults from other drivers kept the German from being able to put up a good fight. Sochi 2016 is a prime example of such faults, as the infamous rear hits from Kvyat forced Vettel to retire from the race just on the opening lap. The season wasn't particularly terrible, but it marked just the beginning of the roller-coaster that was to follow.
"Sebastian in Sochi after the Kvyat incident”
"The Ups and Downs of a Roller-Coaster"
In 2017, Ferrari came charging back, throwing punches left and right. Vettel piloted his Ferrari with the precision of a surgeon with a scalpel, to the point in which he was pretty much on top for the entire first half of the season. Ferrari's strategy worked in their favor, and Sebastian constantly fought with the rest of the front pack, giving Hamilton a real fight in which he would have to work in order to have any hopes of getting a victory.
From there, however, stuff went a bit wonky, like the sort of loop that a roller-coaster tends to do. In Baku, an aggravated Sebastian lost his temper with Hamilton, but he was fortunate enough to not be given too harsh of a penalty, however it did cost him the win. Then, in Singapore, Verstappen collided with Vettel and in Malaysia, he was treading on eggshells, as a collision with Stroll nearly gave him a massive penalty.
However, despite the downs of the '17 season, Sebastian finished triumphantly in 2nd. I would say that 2017 was Sebastian’s best ever season with Ferrari. He drove beautifully, gently nursing his car home if a fault were to come up while still obtaining podium finishes, and if it weren’t for a couple of issues at the beginning of the season, I would argue that Sebastian would’ve been World Champion.
Then, the 2018 season came, and just like the previous season, it was a good one. Sebastian kicked off the season with back-to-back victories in the first two races, and drove incredibly for the rest of the season. He drove so well that he racked up a total of 320 points by the end of the season, putting him in second place once again.
”It just wasn’t good, in any way.”
2019 was a strange year, and is one that might be marked as one of the worst in Seb’s history. Since the beginning of the season, he just didn’t seem as motivated to continue. Perhaps Ferrari made it clear that Leclerc was going to be their main focus for the season, or something else along those lines, which made Vettel feel as if he wasn’t really going to be considered in future plans. Regardless, it was a horrible season, Vettel only scored one victory the entire season, as well as a couple of podiums. That same season, Mattia Binotto replaced Maurizio Arrivabene as team principal. Perhaps Binotto and Seb just don’t get along, after all, Binotto decided only a year after he became principal that he didn’t want Seb on the team anymore.
“The 2020 season’s only making things worse...”
This season is only making things worse, as the car’s not competitive and Ferrari’s decided that they don’t want anything to do with Sebastian anymore. Heck, they even removed his name from his jacket. Essentially, after revisiting Sebastian’s history with the team, I feel as if the possible confirmation bias of the team’s leaders is causing their downfall, and letting Sebastian go is some evidence of that. Even people from Ferrari’s past have stated that the way the team is treating Sebastian is completely wrong. Sebastian is frustrated with the team as well, as poor strategy on the team’s part has resulted to him becoming his own strategist for the past few races. Not to mention, he expressed his concern of terrible performance to the team via radio during the Spanish Grand Prix.
Based on internal hints and suggestions, Vettel might be going to Aston Martin for the 2021 season. If that is the case, we will have to see if he ends up outperforming most of the drivers on the grid, including his soon-to-be former team.
Time will tell if Ferrari’s decision was any good. Sebastian is a fantastic driver, and next season, he may get his groove back. It’s just sad seeing a driver like him being outcast by his team. Maybe it’s an issue with the team chemistry, maybe it‘s Binotto, or it could be something personal. Regardless of the issue, the way I see it, they’re letting go of someone who they haven’t always given their full attention and dedication to all of the time, and due to a couple of rainy days, they just feel as if he’s of no use to them anymore.