After the second race of the season, we can say one thing for certain: Sebastian Vettel is facing the most difficult phase of his career. He is at a crossroads. He now has to make sure that he chooses a path that leads him back to success and more titles and not to a dead end, that could lead, in the worst case, to the end of his F1 career.
Sebastian Vettel Crisis 2019
It’s a fact that the events that happened this weekend in Bahrain have brought him into an extreme pressure situation. There are mutliple reasons for this. His young team-mate Charles Leclerc has shown that the Ferrari (SF90) is a car that can win the championship.
Vettel, however, seems to be struggling with the same car. His lack of feel-good factor was his explanation that he was significantly slower than the Monegasque. But that’s not enough. While Leclerc’s almost secured victory was prevented by a technical problem, Vettel through his own fault couldn’t show the cars potential. Not only did he lose once again against his arch-rival Lewis Hamilton in a direct fight – he threw away a potential podium finish, possibly even victory.
In the next races, Vettel must do everything to stop this negative trend and return to his old successful self. He has to convince Ferrari that he is still the driver the team should put its money on in the battle against the Mercedes armada and fight for this year’s championship title. He has to prove that this weekend’s defeat was just a one-time event, a slip-up and not a trend that gains momentum.
In any case, Vettel can no longer afford more errors and personal weaknesses. Because Leclerc has not only his youth and thus the future on his side, but after such an emotional roller-coaster ride, the hearts of the entire F1 audience. Not only that, more importantly, the sympathies within the Ferrari team, and the Italian press, whose influence on Ferrari is still great.
In the paddock, unfortunately, one could clearly sense that most have already given up on Sebastian Vettel. I am not in the same camp – far from it. But he has to refocus and wipe off all negativity as soon as possible. In fact, not only me but his long-time mentor Helmut Marko (chief advisor for Red Bull) are of the opinion that the setup challenges of his Ferrari are more of a mental blockade than a real car or handling issues.
He certainly hasn’t forgotten how to drive. He didn’t forget it in 2014 either, then the most challenging season of his career. The parallels between today and that year are astoundingly similar when he was challenged and beaten by a younger teammate for the first time in his career.
At that time, it was Daniel Ricciardo. Like Leclerc at Ferrari, the Australian was a home-grown Red Bull talent and the young contender. And like today, Vettel was constantly struggling and complaining about his car. So much that even at Red Bull, no one believed it was a chassis problem anymore. In 2014, he did not make the U-turn we all hope for this year. That year he changed to Ferrari and everything was forgotten quickly.
This time, however, it’s different. If he isn’t capable of reinventing himself this time, he will suffer irrecoverable long-term consequences. Top teams don’t want to keep or hire drivers whose
Therefore, Vettel must keep a cool head now and find back to the old strength he still possesses. He just can’t afford to be his own greatest obstacle on the way to retrieve it.