Following the results of the main race of Formula 1 this season, I reflect on the main weakness of Sebastian Vettel and his dark prospects in Ferrari.
Vettel in the first half of the season: the successor of Schumacher, the undisputed leader of Ferrari for the future, the only real contender of Hamilton, the main favorite of the championship.
Vettel in the second half of the season: the loser title due to his own fault is a loser. The first number is not capable result of the result under pressure. The pilot, the broken car in an almost won race. A veteran with 12 years of experience in F1, who has experienced more than 20 years of newcomers. The favorite to spend Ferrari’s best chance of a title in a few years.
In the defeats of Scuderia of the last 10 years, it was not the drivers who were blamed for the team, but technical guidance, management, strategists and the abstract “Italian breaching”. But not this time - if in 2017, the team was more guilty of losing Vettel, now he gave the title himself.
When Maurizio Arrivabene Ferrari progressively moves up - in 2015, Scuderia began to win, after 2016, it became much less erroneous in tactics, and in 2018, it showed not just a fast, but also a reliable car. Yes, the team is still not perfect and sometimes admits blunders, but compared to the mess of previous years, there are quite a few of them - and in general the team has earned high marks for the season. Almost all - except the racers. Especially the first numbers of Ferrari.
The main Vettel's problem
Those who do not like Vettel, for many years hang on him the label of the rider, able to win only on the best car - and this year Sebastian embodied almost all of their claims.
Just count his main mistakes: an extravagant attack on Bottas in Baku, a ratter of the same Valtteri on the first lap in France, a crash worth 25 points in Hockenheim, collisions that ended in U-turn in Monza, Suzuka and Austin, mistakes in qualifications in Austria and Japan , It is an unaffordable amount for a title challenger.
It seems that Vettel wins only when he is confident of his superiority. And this year he has no confidence. This feeling was with Seb even in the 2010 season, where he took the title by a miracle. After the Singapore Grand Prix, where Vettel had to look at the stickers on the back wing of the victorious Alonso, he prerequisites: "We will catch up with them, do not worry." And in the remainder of the season, Red Bull really dealt with Ferrari - RB6 was the fastest on the vast majority of tracks, and the German knew it well.
While Adrian Newey regularly supplied Seb with excellent cars, the German was required in the first place an impeccable aerobatics, which he for the most part successfully demonstrated. Well, to win the unconditional best car, too, must be able to. But it can long be expected from Ferrari, where the technical headquarters is regularly updated, and after the death of Sergio Marchionne it became restless in the top management. Himself to take an active part in fine-tuning the machine, as Schumacher did, is also impossible - the tests in Formula 1 is almost gone. In modern F1, you need to be able to work with what you have, fight with rivals at a distance and cope with pressure - and here Fetler has problems.
This season, for the first time since 2013, Seb received a title-capable car that did not break. But at the same time faced with a hard pressure of Hamilton - in that the car was not worse, and at the same time, he was almost not wrong. In such circumstances, you have to rely only on yourself. And Vettel could not stand the stress. He simply didn’t have enough composure - as Flavio Briatore wisely remarked, the German tried to win every race instead of not getting into trouble where it wasn’t necessary and methodically to bring big points.
Grand Prix of Germany was turning in all respects. First, in qualifying, we saw Hamilton broken by a breakdown and Fett's triumph - and then in the race we saw Lewis's breakthrough to victory from 14th place and the disaster of Sebastian. And his crying after the gathering in Hockenheim is also a sign of uncertainty and weakness, which are unacceptable for the applicant for the title.
Remember - how often was Vettel wrong in 2011 and 2013, when there was no doubt about the superiority of Red Bull? Or even in those years when the car simply did not allow him to fight for the title? However, mistakes under pressure happened even then - it suffices to recall the last round of Canada 2011
But compare this with the blunders in the years when he had to be cut for the title seriously. What is only the 2010 season and Seb race in Turkey, Britain and Belgium. The parallels with this year suggest themselves - true, then the speed of the RB6 and the mistakes of the rivals was enough to win.
Now, the main rival made a minimum of misses. And Vettel in the second half of the season almost in every second Grand Prix gave reason to doubt his composure. It seems, unlike Hamilton, Sebastian really needs only the fastest car for the title. In the fight on equal it was enough only for half a season.
The last chance
Season 2014, when Sebastian outright lost a new partner Dan Ricardo, has dealt a powerful blow to the reputation of Vettel. Season 2018 was another disappointment. Hamilton had one really bad year (2011), after which he became stronger and no longer allowed such a fiasco. Vettel has two of them. And he simply does not have the right for a third. And the point is not that a multiple champion cannot afford to fail so often - the problem is in Charles LeCler.
Phenomenal Monegasque can end his career as a contender for the title. Yes, now even Vettel’s consistent critics, like Jacques Villeneuve, have little faith in this - but many were skeptical of Hamilton in 2007 or Verstappen in 2016. And in some moments Charles was even more impressed with Lewis and Max.
The fact of its signing by Scuderia, which has not been associated with young people for decades, already speaks volumes. As well as the fact that for the sake of Lecler Ferrari was asked to exit Raikkonen, with whom Vettel was most comfortable. This is not a “black mark”, but a clear signal - they no longer believe in Seb. Or at least they are no longer willing to pin all hopes with him.
The journalist of La Gazzetta dello Sport Luigi Perna recently issued an insider that due to recent results, Vettel lost the support of the team, was in "isolation" and could leave Maranello after the 2019 season, if he did not win the title. Pern must have thickened the colors, but the very fact that such information appeared in the authoritative media is a direct hint to Sebastian that he can wait for him if he loses to a newcomer.
In the case of leaving Ferrari, Vettel will surely be picked up - maybe even Red Bull, for which he is still “his” and with whose employees he often communicates. But as long as Verstappen is in the Austrian team, is he definitely not the first number - or does anyone seriously believe that a non-young Seb will be able to defeat Max? Becoming a second Raikkonen is not an option: Kimi is not too ambitious, otherwise he looks at life, he has only one title, and in general he is one. A four-time champion on the sidelines can not be a priori.
Vettel came to Ferrari to become a legend - but can leave with nothing. He failed in this year and now faces the red line, behind which is the decline of his career and the reputation of not the most worthy champion in the eyes of fans. It is critically important for him to gain composure, pump the skills of fighting side by side and on the first lap, learn to be confident in himself regardless of what kind of car he has.
If Vettel fails, then he should just leave in 2019. It will not be better. Otherwise, the sign of Seb will not be the winning demonstration of the index finger, but the Hockenheim crying mixed up with swearing.