Four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel is at a crossroads in his career: At Ferrari, he now drives for his future, within Ferrari and in Formula 1.
You could pity Sebastian Vettel (32). On Sunday evening after his disastrous race at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, he was already on his way to the hotel, when he suddenly remembered that he still had to hold a press round for the international media.
So he quickly turned back and took it with humor when he bumped into ABMS and F1 Insider reporters inside the paddock:
“I completely forgot it,” Vettel replied with a smile.
But his current situation in Formula 1 is currently anything but funny. The German is now in a vicious cycle after his spin in Monza and Leclerc’s victory which he almost can’t escape from.
One of the challenges he has to deal with and left a mark on Vettel, he helped Lecler in Spa to achieve his first victory, and once again in Monza within qualifying. But when it was time for Leclerc to return the favor, he was left alone.
On the contrary, Leclerc even blocked him in such a way that Vettel wasn’t even able to put on a fast lap on his own in Monza. So Vettel’s fate was sealed on P4 for the Italian GP on Sunday while Leclerc was on pole.
On race day it came, how it had to come: Vettel had to chase the leaders, risked too much and spun at Ascari.
Leclerc celebrated his second victory and probably the most important victory of his career at Ferrari’s home Grand Prix in front of a frenetic celebrating red crowd, where Ferrari won the last time in 2010,
Great for Leclerc, Ferrari and Ferrari fans, but certainly a personal Waterloo moment from Vettel’s perspective.
“This moment has to be so dark for him”, commented Nico Rosberg (34) after the race. His teammate has just become a Ferrari legend, and he’s down.”
The German Ferrari driver is now at the crossroads of his career. He has to fight not only against a ruthless teammate and his equally cunning manager Nicolas Todt (41) but also against his own demons.
“Sebastian has to mentally get out of this vicious circle and think only of himself,” advised ex-world champion Jacques Villeneuve (48).”
Monza should have made it clear that Vettel can’t rely on Leclerc.
To make an even more dramatic statement, for Vettel Leclerc must now be his first and primary opponent. Because the reverse is also true. The Monegasque, who has been working with a mental coach for years, know how to be political and play the team and the crowds.
For example, during the race interview in the Parc Fermée he spontaneously gave his interview in Italian a language he commands since his early childhood, but a language that Vettel still doesn’t feel 100% comfortable with.
However, 1hat should encourage and ultimately give him the strength to fight back, is the uncompromising and unconditional support from his boss and Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto (49).
The Italian appreciates Vettel very much, wanted to sit down on Sunday even drive him back on a scooter to be on time for the media session..
Binotto to ABMS and F1 Insider: “Other drivers have already made mistakes. We have to rebuild Sebastian now, take good care of him. What is important is that he senses that we and the Tifosi love, trust and build on him…”
Even FIA President Jean Todt didn’t want to count out Vettel and that even though his son, Nicolas Todt, belongs to team Leclerc. Todt in the current issue of AutoBild explained:
“Sebastian is a four-time world champion. This must not be forgotten. The criticism of him is exaggerated and unfair. He makes mistakes that can happen when you are under pressure. He is human and not a robot. In any case, I would not write off Sebastian.”
What Vettel needs now more than ever is a victory at the next race in Singapore (September 22nd). Ferrari is supposed to bring a new aerodynamic package to Singapore which should provide more downforce in turns, something the Ferrari has been struggling with the whole season.
Unfortunately, Singapore is a not a track that particularly suits the Ferraris and hence they won’t be the favorite for the Grand Prix in South-East Asia – another challenge Vettel will have to deal with.
*This article was first published in German at autobild.de/motorsport.