After a complicated goodbye to Ferrari, German driver Sebastian Vettel was looking for a new start in the team Aston Martin, change the air and relaunch your career; However, the debut was just as frustrating as his more recent times at the Formula One: far from the points and as the target of criticism from fans and former drivers.
The German had a difficult qualification in the Bahrain Grand Prix that opened the 2021 season of the top category, in his presentation in front of the green car he could not overcome the first stage, with the third worst time of the session, only above the two cars of Haas; as if that were not enough, he received a five-place penalty for not respecting the yellow flags and started from the last place on the grid.
In the race, the situation did not improve, he had a touch with the car of the Frenchman Esteban Ocon (Alpine) and received a 10-second penalty, to finish in 15th place, one lap behind the leaders and even surpassed by the Williams by George Russell. The worst imagined start for the four-time serial champion.
The critics did not wait. One of the most forceful was the former British pilot Damon Hill on the F1 Nation podcast: “It’s like seeing that Mexican party game, the piñata, constantly attacked; what is happening to him is difficult to observe, something must click on his psychological constellation, he needs to see a mystic and that he takes away that kind of evil spirit, he will have done something negative to deserve this “.
The result in Bahrain joined the nightmare years that Vettel lived at the end of his cycle at Ferrari. After being Lewis Hamilton’s main title rival in the 2017 and 2018 seasons, the arrival of young Monegasque Charles Leclerc to the Scuderia in place of his friend Kimi Räikkönen in 2019 seemed to affect his performance.
From five victories in 2018 he went to one in the following calendar, from 12 podiums to nine and from being second in the championship with 320 points he fell to fifth place with 240 units, surpassed even by his teammate, who only had one season of experience and with a Sauber car.
For 2020, the situation was even more desperate for the four-time monarch with Red Bull between 2010 and 2013, with Ferrari fully focused on Leclerc and with the announcement of the signing of Carlos Sainz to replace him in 2021, the German had his worst year in F1 since his rookie stage, with just one podium (third in Turkey) and 33 points to place 13th in the championship.
For this reason, the also former pilot David Coulthard He gave a hypothesis about the present of the German: “I wonder if it is part of a brand construction, but not for Aston Martin, but for Lance Stroll (his new partner). If he can beat Vettel, he can say that he can also be champion in the future, I’m not saying that he is or that he is not, but there are still doubts about where he ranks in the pecking order. If he does to ‘Seb’ what Charles (Leclerc) did to him, I don’t know how the season can end, “said the Scotsman on the On the Marbles podcast.
For several weeks it was speculated that Sebastian would take a sabbatical or even retire from the series at the age of 33, until the millionaire Lawrence Stroll recruited him for the new Racing Point project, a squad that was fourth in the constructors’ table. in 2020, with 64 points more than Ferrari, but which is far from having a car capable of fighting for the victories in every race.
“The team is not a winner yet, it is growing, he knows it, he will understand it, but how will it help him in terms of motivation and timing? I’m nervous, “said his former partner in Red Bull, Mark Webber also on the On the Marbles podcast.
Vettel’s downfall coincided with the Scuderia’s relegation, but takes on a new dimension with the bad debut in a garage where he should feel more comfortable. “How many bullets do you have left in the chamber?” I don’t know, I think he will enjoy the environment, there is no doubt, not being in Maranello and in an English environment, he has always had a good time, I know, what will not automatically translate is in performance; he’ll like it better, but I don’t know how that will turn out on the timer and that’s what F1 is all about, ”added the Australian.
The one from Heppenheim took the top flight by storm. In his debut with Clean in the 2007 United States Grand Prix he was eighth and to close that campaign he was fourth with Red Bull in China, even less than a year later and still in the second Red Bull team, he won in Italy, to make his quality clear.
Former driver Gerhard Berger was the director of the garage with which he shared that success more than a decade ago and he also made an analysis of what is happening with the German. “Sebastian is a four-time champion, he is one of the outstanding drivers, no doubt, but he never reacts well under pressure, let’s remember when Daniel (Ricciardo) came to Red Bull, he was very strong and he was a threat to ‘Seb’, to him it is difficult to deal with that ”.
The Austrian went back to 2014, when Webber retired after the German’s fourth crown and Red Bull promoted Ricciardo, who had also shone with Toro Rosso. In that season, the first of the hybrid era, the hegemony ceased to be the energy drink team to begin the Mercedes era; however, Daniel had 71 points more than his partner, who as monarch went to fifth place in the table.
In 2015, ‘Seb’ went to Ferrari, to be a partner of Räikkönen, “at Ferrari it was the same (with Leclerc), now I think he is not loose, relaxed, maybe he wants to show things, but at this moment it is not possible because the car is not good enough, or he is not in good shape, when you are in that situation you have to sit down, take a step back and calm down and success will return ”, Berger deepened in the podcast In the Fast Lane.
“Somehow, it hasn’t worked for him, he starts to make mistakes, people question him, and there he goes little by little, more and more pressure and he doesn’t like it. It’s an awkward situation when you’re on a team and your partner is faster (Stroll was 10th in Bahrain) and obviously maybe they spend more time on him, but it’s something you have to deal with, ”concluded the 10-race winner in the serial.
However, the motivation for Aston Martin is that there is barely one race of the 23 scheduled in the 2021 calendar, he has a couple of weeks to better understand his new car and draw conclusions from what happened in the preseason and at the beginning of the bell; with his experience he has the ability to turn the situation around.
“He feels that punishment, and the blows he has received worry him, I fear that this will get worse, he must release all the bad, the negative feelings, when he does, he has all the capacity in the world, he can run to the front next to Lewis and Max (Verstappen), ”Damon Hill said. It’s Vettel’s job to reclaim his rightful place in motorsport’s elite.