Sebastian Vettel sees in Charles Leclerc a reason to prove himself that he can still win.
My Contract Runs until 2020…
This message caused a media stir. In an interview with the Sunday Times during the Bahrain GP Sebastian Vettel (31) didn’t rule out a speedy retirement: “My contract runs until 2020. I am sure that I want to drive this year and next in Formula 1. After that, I don’t know what’s going on with the new rules beyond that. No one really knows! I am not here to say: I will not leave Formula 1, just to continue to be Formula 1 driver.”
No wonder that this statement had an impact after such a race as in Bahrain. But it’s also a fact that the interview question was a bit loaded as he was asked under what specific conditions and new rules he wouldn’t drive any longer. The epilogue was: “I hope that it will be even better from 2021.” So, everything not so serious!
However, this story reveals that Vettel is under enormous pressure. His young teammate Charles Leclerc was not only the perceived winner of Bahrain, but his status as #1 driver is in doubt.
Mercedes Motorsport Director Toto Wolff (47) to ABMS & F1 Insider: “Leclerc is an upcoming world champion. It could be possible even this year. I don’t want to be in Ferrari’s role right now. They are morally challenged in two ways. On the one hand, they have to open support their four-times champion, on the other hand, they can’t afford to slow down their super talent. Especially since Charles has gained the hearts of F1 after such bad luck. It may well be that Ferrari may want to give him back his “stolen” victory. I would think about it. ”
Yet, Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto (49) tries to take lower the pressure on Vettel. “Mistakes in a duel can happen. We don’t do finger-pointing. The season is still long. You just can’t too much into one race.” So Binotto still backs up his German ex-world champion. Especially since Ferrari’s performance low from Australia seems to be resolved.
Binotto: “We want to prove this coming weekend in Shanghai that we are competitive on this track as well and that the reliability issues from Bahrain will not be repeated.”
Ferrari’s fiercest competition is already worried. Toto Wolff: “They have a power advantage that is difficult to catch up to.” Ferrari won in Bahrain alone four tenths of a second on the straights. According to Toto, progress in these areas is only done in incremental steps.
Sebastian Vettel Motivation
Vettel himself is optimistic, especially after the successful tests following the Bahrain GP: “For me, Charles’s arrival at Ferrari is positive!” Vettel admits: “I feel his desire for success, his hunger. It also motivates me to prove that I can be even better. There are always days when someone is faster than you. I don’t like these days, but my opponents are no idiots. Sometimes they are better, but already the next day I fight back.”
That Vettel wasn’t able to perfect his Ferrari setup in Bahrain to his driving style, does not have to stay that way. He needs a stable rear, but even Leclerc can’t perform miracles. Vettel: “We have complete transparency and both drivers have access to all the data. When I do something special, Charles copies it in two sessions and vice versa.”
Ex-McLaren star David Coulthard still believes in the 31-year-old German:” It’s normal for the younger generation to challenge the older. But Seb doesn’t belong to the old guard yet. He did not get the car clear in Bahrain. Nothing is decided yet. “