Motor racing journalist and Senior Writer Editor for Formula1.com Lawrence Barretto reflects on Sebastian Vettel’s 2020 season, which will be the German’s sixth campaign with Scuderia Ferrari:
“When we spoke during pre-season testing last year, Sebastian Vettel was in tremendous form. There was a glint in his eye, a cheekiness to his smile. The 2019 campaign was to be his fifth with Ferrari and, having driven his new car, which had initially appeared to be the one to beat, he was understandably excited about the season ahead, in a team that had charged him with bringing the world championship back to Maranello.” – Lawrence Barretto said for Formula1.com
Sadly 2019 turned out to be a disappointing season for Sebastian Vettel and Scuderia Ferrari. Lawrence Barretto points out that “Vettel hasn’t lost his speed. His superb pole position in Japan and ruthless drive to victory in Singapore are proof of that. He’s just struggled to deliver consistently, and increasingly cracks have shown with the smallest sign of pressure on track. Leclerc’s huge talent has applied that pressure more consistently than Kimi Raikkonen ever managed during Vettel’s time at Ferrari.” – he explained.
But Sebastian Vettel is not ready to throw the towel in just yet: “His contract expires at the end of the year and without a reversal of form, Ferrari might find it tough to keep him on. And if there’s no opening at Ferrari, Vettel doesn’t strike you as someone likely to do a Raikkonen and take up a seat lower down the field; he seems more like a big fish that isn’t up for swimming in a small pond. He wants to add more titles to his impressive resume – and if that isn’t possible, you get the impression he’d likely happily leave.Ferrari is where he wants to be. It’s unfinished business. But what do Ferrari want? Their chief Mattia Binotto said last month Vettel is “central to our project” and a “key driver of us”. But he also said: “We need to see [his] performance and how he fits with the car and his motivation for the future. It’s not about his mistakes or not. It’s really a matter of how he does see himself as far as his future and how we… see our line-up.” The 2020 season – particularly the opening half of the campaign, as it’s not Ferrari’s style to announce their complete line-up late in the year – is huge.” – he added.
“Vettel is well-liked within the team. You often see him hanging out with team personnel in the Ferrari’s hospitality or the garage during a Grand Prix weekend, long after everyone else has left the track. The delight in their faces when he won in Singapore was clear, as he pulled a monkey that had dug its nails in off his back. They wanted him to succeed, wanted his miserable run to end. He’s one of the guys when he’s at the factory, too. “I head to the canteen with everyone else [for lunch],” says Vettel. “It’s the quickest and the food is good. It’s usually really busy, as all the guys are there – including from GT. There’s a couple of queues to get served.” – Senior Writer Editor Lawrence Barretto concluded.