Site logo

Sebastian Vettel




Seasons in Formula 1:
Races contested:
Total number of championships:
Total number of wins:
Total number of pole positions:
Total number of fastest laps:
Total number of points:
2022 - number of wins:
2022 - number of poles:
2022 - number of fastest laps:
2022 - points:
2022 - championship position:



Sebastian Vettel


Heppenheim, Germany
Thurgovia, Switzerland

Official website:


When Sebastian Vettel made his F1 debut on the Friday of the 2007 Turkish Grand Prix - assuming the role of 'third driver' from Robert Kubica, who in turn had been promoted to a full race seat following the 'departure' of Jacques Villeneuve - there were widespread shouts, not merely among race fans but within the F1 paddock, of "who?"

However, later that day, having posted the fastest time of the day, the sport appeared to have discovered its latest sensation.

All in all, it was a historic day for the young German, for not only had he edged out Michael Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso, he had, at 19 years and 53 days, becoming the youngest driver to take part in a Grand Prix weekend. On the other hand, he became the youngest to receive a fine in an F1 car (speeding in the pitlane), incurring the fine just 9 seconds into his F1 career.

Sebastian's racing career began in 1995 when he took part in his first Kart race, just a short while later he celebrated his first win.

He continued in Karting for the next eight years, enjoying success both in his native Germany, and throughout Europe, winning the European Junior Kart Championship and the German Junior Kart Championship, in addition to victories in the Monaco Junior Kart Cup and Paris-Bercy.

He was also a regular at a certain Kart track in Kerpen, where he got to meet up with his hero - F1 legend, Michael Schumacher.

Along the way, Sebastian had been spotted by Red Bull, and from 1998 has been part of the Austrian company's ambitious 'Driver Programme'.

Sebastian finally made the switch to single-seaters in 2003, entering the Formula BMW ADAC Championship. Finishing runner-up, he was also named 'Rookie of the Year'.

He remained in Formula BMW in 2004, and totally dominated the series, taking 18 wins (from 20 races), 15 pole positions and 16 fastest race laps. A new German star was born.

For 2005 he switched to the Formula 3 Euroseries, taking the 'rookie' title, courtesy of 6 podium places.

In September 2005, Sebastian received his reward for the 2004 Formula BMW title, a test with the BMW WilliamsF1 Team at Jerez.

In 2006, the youngster remained with the F3 Euroseries, also taking part in a number of rounds of the World Series by Renault.

An accident at Misano in the World Series by Renault almost saw him lose a finger, but he was back in the cockpit a week later, finishing sixth in the Ultimate Masters of F3 at Zandvoort.

Once he had been drafted into the BMW team to replace Kubica, Sebastian's world went crazy. In addition to his duties as an F1 test and reserve driver, there was also the little matter of the Euro Series.

Unfortunately, despite continuing to impress in the F1 car - certainly enough to secure the role of test driver for BMW in 2007 - the German youngster missed out on the F3 title, losing out to Scotland's Paul di Resta by 11 points.

For 2007, Sebastian was retained by BMW as test driver, while also continuing in the World Series by Renault with Carlin.

The new test limits meant that Vettel was unlikely to get mileage in the BMW during the season, however, the German team originally insisted that unlike its rivals it would run its test driver in the Friday practice sessions at Grands Prix. Unfortunately for Sebastian, it wasn't long before the team fell into line with its rivals.

However, Lady Luck had a trick up her sleeve. When Robert Kubica crashed heavily in Canada, Sebastian was drafted in for the following week's race at Indianapolis. Even though the Pole insisted he was fully recovered from his Montreal crash, the FIA was taking no chances.

Sebastian gave a mature performance on his F1 debut, qualifying seventh - two spots behind his highly experienced teammate - and bringing the car home in the same position. The youngster gave a good account of himself, and it was only the experience of his rivals, who were able to keep him at bay at the Brickyard, a track not known for its overtaking opportunities, that prevented him from finishing higher. As it was, Sebastian had made history by becoming the youngest driver to score a Formula One World Championship point. At 19 years 349 days, he had broken the record established by Jenson Button in 2000 when the Englishman, aged 20 years 67 days, finished sixth in Brazil.

With Kubica back on duty in France it looked as though Sebastian would have to make do with his 15 minutes of F1 fame and return to the World Series by Renault. However, a few weeks later he was back in an F1 car, this time with Toro Rosso.

Disappointed with Scott Speed's lack of progress, Red Bull called time on Vettel's deal with BMW, the Austrian company pointing to the fact that the youngster had a long-term contract with it. On 31 July, BMW, realising that the Red Bull contract was watertight, released the youngster, who was back on the F1 grid in time for his home race at the Nurburgring.

After his sensational debut with BMW, it was back to reality for Sebastian as he had to deal with life at the other end of the grid. Initially, it was clear that teammate Tonio Liuzzi had the better of him, but little by little Sebastian came into his own.

In Japan, Sebastian made another little bit of F1 history. In the atrocious conditions he worked his way up into the lead, thereby, at 20 years 89 days, becoming the youngest driver ever to lead a World Championship Grand Prix. However, the race was to end in tears (literally) when he was adjudged to have crashed into Mark Webber in a bizarre incident behind the safety car.

The Australian, never one to hold back, said of the incident: "It's kids isn't it, kids with not enough experience. They do a good job and then they f*** it all up." Race officials agreed, and consequently, Sebastian was told that due to his careless driving he would forfeit ten grid places at the next race, China. The kid was inconsolable, and few of us will forget the sight of the distraught youngster in the Fuji gloom.

However, by the time the 'circus' arrived in China a week later, a video shot by a race fans in the stands in Japan had appeared on Youtube. It appeared to show that Lewis Hamilton was responsible for the incident, and consequently the German's grid penalty was removed. As if in celebration of the fact, Sebastian gave the performance of his life, bringing the Toro Rosso home in fourth to give the team its best ever result. It was a magnificent drive, and after the tears of Fuji, at Shanghai Sebastian was grinning from ear to ear.

In 2008, the youngster was joined by four-time Champ Car Champion Sebastien Bourdais, and it 's fair to say the German totally dominated his French teammate in terms of qualifying, race results and just about everything else. That said, it would be fair to say that Sebastian is clearly capable of giving everyone a run for their money.

Looking at the stats however, the German's season didn't get off to the best of starts. After four races he had completed just 39 laps, crashing in Australia and Spain, suffering accident damage in Bahrain and an engine failure in Malaysia. Sebastian was the innocent victim in all three accidents, but that would not have helped his self confidence.

Turkey was the turning point in Sebastian's season for it was the first race at which he had the new STR3 - better known as the Red Bull RB4. The new car was clearly better than its predecessor and it wasn't long before the German, with the aid of his Ferrari powerplant and his own supreme skills, was putting the works Red Bull drivers, and pretty much everyone else, to shame.

At Monza, the circuit where the German youngster had made F1 history, having taken a superb pole, Sebastian, in equally atrocious conditions, kept a cool head and scored an emotional victory that even the Tifosi couldn't begrudge.

It was a performance that rightly won him plaudits from his peers, including Hamilton and Alonso, though when the German media referred to him as "Baby Schumi", Sebastian would have none of it. "To compare me with Michael Schumacher is ridiculous," he said, "it would be difficult in normal conditions for us to repeat this achievement."

There was another bravura performance in Brazil, a performance which might well have left him highly unpopular in Britain.

In the changeable weather conditions that marked the final laps of the race, the German was involved in a fierce fight with Lewis Hamilton. While it was just another four or five points to the Toro Rosso driver the World Championship title was at stake for Lewis.

In true Schumacher style, Vettel wasn't taking prisoners, his job was to get the best result possible for his team, and that is precisely what he did, taking fourth place from the McLaren driver and, seemingly, the title.

As history shows however, in the end it was another German, Timo Glock, who decided the championship outcome.

For 2009, Sebastian moved from Toro Rosso to its big sister, Red Bull, where he would partner Australian veteran Mark Webber, a man who had previously described the youngster as a "kid".

One of a number of drivers to fall foul of the treacherous conditions at Sepang, Sebastian and his team took full advantage of Brawn's lack of wet weather testing to score a historic 1-2 in China, the Austrian outfit's first victory. It was a superb performance from the German youngster, and clear proof that the epic win in Monza in 2008, in similar conditions, was no fluke.

By mid-season, as the Brawn began losing its advantage and Newey and his team were getting to grips with the (now legal) double diffuser, Sebastian came into his own. A fine win at Silverstone was followed by another 1-2 in Germany, however, this time it was teammate Webber who stood atop the podium.

It wasn't all plain sailing however, for poor reliability was to cost the team dearly, particularly in terms of engines. By the time of the Belgian GP Sebastian had used up his allocation of engines leading his team to 'mix and match' for the rest of the season. It also meant limited running during the free practice sessions.

A win in Japan - his first race at Suzuka - meant Sebastian went into the final two rounds with a mathematical chance of winning the title however, in Brazil, as in 2008, an Englishman secured it with a strong drive to fifth.

The German wrapped up a magnificent season with another convincing win, this time on the dark streets of Abu Dhabi. In doing so he secured runner-up position in the championship just 11 points shy of Jenson Button.

Since his F1 debut in 2007, Sebastian had continued to improve and going into the 2010 season he was already one of the hot favourites, the pre-season pace of the RB6 merely reinforcing the belief that this could be the year. Now, armed with a double diffuser, not to mention the controversial blown exhaust, the RB6 was the clear class of the field, even if reliability and team strategy would continue to dog the team.

While much, much more was to happen over the course of the season, many cite Sepang as the turning point. Webber had taken pole and was odds-on to convert it into a win however, Vettel wasn't taking any prisoners that day and nailed his teammate as remorselessly as he would have nailed a Ferrari or McLaren.

Webber turned the tables in Monaco however, two weeks later all hell broke loose in Istanbul when Sebastian attempted to pass his teammate to take the lead in the Turkish GP. In one of those rare (?) moments of brain fade, the German went for a gap that wasn't really there, eager to make his move rather than wait a moment longer. The two touched, dropping Webber down the field and leaving Sebastian in the gravel. As if things weren't bad enough, as he walked back to the pits the German gesticulated in a manner which clearly suggested that the blame for the incident lay squarely with 'Mental Mark'.

As talk of in-fighting and favouritism dominated the headlines, Red Bull held a 'clear the air' meeting between its two drivers. However, things would only get worse. First off, when Sebastian complained about a problem with his car, the team gave him Webber's favourite chassis. Then, at Silverstone, following an accident in Saturday practice, the German was given a new front wing which had been taken from his teammate's car.

Having won in Valencia, Sebastian made a pig's ear of things at Silverstone when he ran wide in the first corner and dropped back down the field. Then, in Hungary, while looking at a more than possible win, he incurred a penalty for dropping too far behind the Safety Car. It was the sort of error one expected from a rookie not a potential world champion.

Worse was to come however. In Belgium he made a ludicrous pointless move on Jenson Button which saw the Englishman eliminated on the spot. The German managed to soldier on but subsequently picked up a puncture in a clash with Tonio Liuzzi at the same place he'd hit Button. The Red Bull driver, forced to complete a full lap on a flat tyre, eventually finished 15th, leaving him third in the championship, trailing Hamilton and Webber and under mounting pressure from Button and Alonso.

Back-to-back wins for Alonso in Italy and Singapore meant the title was now a five-way fight. However, while Sebastian was now fourth in the title race, the in-house friction continued. Furthermore, rival teams unhappy with the RB6's dominance continued to nag the FIA about the legality of various components.

At Suzuka, Sebastian gave one of those masterclass demonstrations that only a true champion can deliver, it was enough to put him joint second (with Alonso) in the championship. However, leading the title fight was his Red Bull teammate, indeed, the Australian had a 14 point advantage.

Korea was a nightmare for Red Bull with Webber making the sort of needless costly mistake normally associated with his teammate and said German suffering an engine problem which caused him too to crash out of the race. In one race, the Austrian team was on its back foot, with Alonso closing in on the title thanks to three wins from four races.

Away from the track, the team continued to dominate the headlines, with widespread speculation as to when it would introduce team orders in order to ensure one of its drivers secured the title as opposed to Alonso. Of course, when we say 'one of its drivers' we mean Webber, for it was the Australian who - in terms of points - appeared to have the best possible chance of stopping the Spanish steamroller.

In Brazil Vettel gave another performance of sublime proportions, while Webber's strong second at least assured the Austrian team of its first Constructors' Championship.

Going into the season finale in Abu Dhabi - back in the desert where it all began eight months earlier - the speculation over team orders continued, for while Webber trailed Alonso by 8 points, Sebastian was a massive 15 points down on the Spaniard.

On the day, Ferrari made a major strategic error - opting to copy Webber's pit stop strategy - while the Spaniard gave a performance that can only be described as lacklustre. However, that shouldn't detract from an epic performance from Sebastian who drove a race that fully lived up to the significance of the event.

On the podium there were tears of joy, as opposed to the tears of frustration we had seen earlier in the season. The youngest world champion in the history of the sport, in the eyes of many he was also one of the most worthy. Yes, there were mistakes along the way, some of them ridiculous, but when he's good, he's very, very good.

In winning the title one would expect to say that Sebastian came of age however, he didn't. There were a number of silly mistakes, a couple of dumb outbursts, even one or two moments of madness. However, all that changed in 2011 when he stepped up a gear and in doing so ticked off most of the remaining boxes.

Sebastian began his title defence in style, essentially setting the pattern for the season. Having taken pole, the German led home Hamilton by 22s the following day. He continued in Malaysia, where he pipped the Englishman for pole position by a tenth of a second, going on to win the race from his McLaren teammate.

In Canada, Sebastian took his sixth pole from seven races. Taking the lead at the start, the German looked set to add to his tally. However, the six safety car periods due to the atrocious conditions, not to mention a two hour race suspension, seriously compromised his chances of victory. At the final re-start, Button caught the German and began to pressure him. On the final lap Sebastian slid on a damp part of the track allowing the McLaren driver through to take the victory.

At Valencia, the FIA began enforcing a controversial ban on engine mappings - a move many suspected as being an attempt to stop Sebastian and Red Bull's domination. However, the German youngster took pole and dominated the race, taking fastest lap as if to prove the point.

At Silverstone, another change was implemented, this time the FIA targeting blown diffusers. While Red Bull clamed the rule change had cost it half a second a lap, Webber edged out Sebastian for pole. The German took the lead and led the first half of the race. However, a delay during one of his stops gave the lead to Alonso who passed him in the pit lane. Despite a KERS problem Sebastian was able to leapfrog Hamilton during the stops and held off Webber.

In Belgium, Sebastian took pole and won the race, his seventh victory of the season and seventeenth of his career, thereby extending his championship lead to 92 points.

At Monza, the German took his tenth pole position of the year, the 25th of his career, winning the race after passing Alonso, who had overtaken him at the start. Having led every lap from pole position in Singapore, despite a safety car period which eliminated his 22 second lead, Sebastian took his ninth win of the season, leaving Button as the only person who could challenge him for the title.

Needing only a single championship point, Sebastian got his Suzuka weekend off to the perfect start by taking pole. In the race he held the lead until the second pit-stop phase when Button used the undercut to get past. The German remained second after a safety car re-start, but because his tyres were worn he subsequently lost out to Alonso. Though he tried to fight back, the German was told to hold position in order to wrap up the championship. The podium finish secured his second successive title with four races still remaining, making him the youngest ever double world champion and the youngest back-to-back champion in the history of F1.

Other than the mistake in Canada and a disappointing outing in Germany, which surely hurt him more than anyone else, Sebastian was pretty much faultless in 2011. 11 wins, 15 pole positions and 17 podiums pretty much says it all.

Furthermore, in addition to the improvement since his first championship winning year, Sebastian's refusal to ease up once the second title was secured showed him to be as remorseless as his hero, Michael Schumacher.

Like its rivals, Red Bull spent the first part of 2012 attempting to get to grips with the new Pirelli rubber however, matters were further complicated by the fact it no longer had the advantage of the blown diffuser.

Despite that, the team scored three wins in the first half of the season, ironically, two of them coming from Webber who had never quite got to grips with the advantage offered by the blown-diffuser the previous year.

However, in the second half of the season the team discovered the secrets of the 2012 rubber, not to mention overcoming the problem with its DRS, and Sebastian came into his own, the German scoring four straight wins that were to put him back in the thick of the title fight.

While the history books will show that in 2012 Sebastian became the youngest ever driver to win three successive titles, neither he or the team made it easy.

Other than tyres and the lost advantage of the exhaust blown diffuser there was the thorny issue of the unreliability of the Renault alternators.

Along the way there were a number of mistakes from Sebastian, particularly in qualifying, but on the whole he kept it under control. Furthermore, as the car came into its own in the latter stages of the season, the German too stepped up a notch and in Abu Dhabi and again in Brazil silenced many of those that still insist he can only win from the front.

In both races, for different reasons, he found himself having to battle his way through the entire field, and though some of the moves were controversial - not least the yellow flag incident(s) at Interlagos - the German's determination was clear.

With the regulations largely unchanged in 2013, few were willing to bet against Sebastian and Red Bull making it four in a row, though a few races into the season it appeared both had their work cut out.

Though he (ominously) took pole in Melbourne, Sebastian was to finish the race in third place, twenty-two seconds behind winner Kimi Raikkonen. In Malaysia, he again put the RB9 on pole, this time going on to covert it in to a win... but not without controversy. Against team orders, the German passed his Australian teammate who was leading the race, breaking the so-called 'Multi 21' protocol. Webber's obvious frustration, not to mention Sebastian's total lack of remorse, not only soured the relationship (such as it was) between the two but also damaged the German (still further) in the eyes of many race fans and the media.

In China, having not posted a time in Q3, Sebastian qualified 9th, finishing the race 4th - having posted the fastest lap - just two-tenths behind 3rd placed Hamilton. He won from second on the grid in Bahrain, his first win of the season, having passed pole-man Rosberg in the opening laps. He maintained the championship lead with 4th in Spain, and 2nd in Monaco before winning again in Canada, where he started from pole and subsequently lapped everyone up to 5th, thereby extending his lead to 36 points.

His championship lead was reduced at Silverstone due to a gearbox failure, much to the delight of the partisan crowd, but he made up for it a week later when, despite pressure from Lotus drivers Raikkonen and Grosjean, he scored his first ever home win.

The second half of the season was entirely different to the first. Following a number of incidents - possibly the understatement of all understatements - Pirelli had been forced to change its tyres. While the change greatly damaged some teams this was not the case with the RB9.

At Spa, Sebastian began a run of nine consecutive victories, making history by becoming the first driver to score as many consecutive wins and the youngest driver to win four consecutive titles. Indeed, taking victory in India, with three races remaining had Bernie Ecclestone and pals looking for ever more silly ways of manipulating the series in order that such a feat could not be repeated.

At times Sebastian's dominance was reminiscent of that of his countryman, Michael Schumacher, and similarly his success - and perceived arrogance - was not appreciated by the fans or media. Indeed, at a number of events the German was booed during the podium ceremony, many putting this down to his actions in Malaysia. Though he initially laughed off the booing he later admitted that it had hurt him. "It's very difficult for me personally, to receive boos, even though you haven't done anything wrong," he said.

For 2014, Sebastian was joined by another Australian, the ever smiling Daniel Ricciardo. In the wake of the German's domination, certainly in 2013, coupled with the manner in which he had seen off Webber it remained to be seen whether Sebastian would break Ricciardo's spirit, or whether the Australian would be able to assert himself within the team.

The raft of new rules had most of the teams worried, and no doubt Adrian Newey's deeper than ever frown reflected this, that and a number of high profile 'defections' including; Head of Aerodynamics, Peter Prodromou, to McLaren and Chief Engineer Vehicle Dynamics, Mark Ellis, to Mercedes.

The opening test at Jerez saw the team complete less mileage than any other, while the second test (in Bahrain) was little better. Though all the Renault powered teams were suffering, the RB10's problems were exacerbated by the tight packaging of the power unit.

The final test, again in Bahrain, showed a slight sign of improvement, but Sebastian remained over 4s off (pace-setter) Felipe Massa's best, and reliability continued to cause concern.

Consequently, when Ricciardo finished second in the season opener, there were some who ventured that maybe the Austrian team had been sandbagging (for all three tests?), though teammate Sebastian's retirement (engine) after just 4 laps appeared to paint the more accurate picture.

A number of drivers had problems with the new regulations and none more so than Sebastian, who struggled from the outset. Indeed, the lack of pre-season testing put him seriously off his stride and the lack of confidence built from there. Even changing his chassis a couple of times failed to help the German.

Those who had previously opined that much of his success came from the fact that he had the best car will feel validated, especially when one compares the German's season to that of his relatively inexperienced new teammate.

Fact is, the 2014 regulations were new for everyone, and almost all made a better a job of it than Sebastian. That he never won a race, whilst his teammate won three, speaks volumes. But how about the fact that the only time he led a race was when Hamilton pitted from the lead in Singapore.

Whilst he never made his mark on the title and thereby gave some of his critics further ammunition, Sebastian was at least able to silence those who claim that he doesn't know how to overtake. Over the course of the year he was regularly seen in dog-fights, the most notable being at Silverstone where he and Fernando Alonso fought a thrilling battle.

Be it the disappointment that was the RB10, Adrian Newey's decreasing role or simply the challenge from his new teammate, Sebastian opted to leave Red Bull after six seasons, following the route taken by his hero Michael Schumacher, and attempting to revive fortunes at an ailing Ferrari.

Having witnessed his failure to get a grip of the new regulations in 2014, one wondered if Sebastian had the ability to help lift an entire team, especially a team as legendary as Ferrari, by the scruff his neck.

He did.

In pre-season testing it was clear the Maranello outfit had made progress, certainly in the engine department. However, Maurizio Arrivabene's demand of two wins seemed somewhat over optimistic, especially after the shambles that was 2014.

However, as early as Malaysia - the second round of the season - new boy Sebastian was atop the podium, excellent strategy and a superb drive giving the Scuderia its first win since Spain 2013.

As the season progressed, not only was Ferrari clearly a different team to that witnessed in 2014, Sebastian too had rediscovered himself.

Putting the performances aside - for now - the pouty, sullen visage of 2014 was replaced by the grinning schoolboy of old. Not only did he give a good account of himself on track, his keen (British) sense of humour (and mischief) enlivened press conferences and interviews.

Not only was he proving to be thorn in the sides of the Silver Arrows duo on track, he was forever giving them grief in the paddock.

The one area where the team was lacking in 2015 was qualifying, and whenever Sebastian qualified up there with the silver cars he gave them a hard time. As for Singapore, his sole pole of the season - indeed the only weekend a Mercedes wasn't on pole - he made the Stuttgart pair look like amateurs.

OK, there was Mexico, a race of numerous unforced errors, which the German admitted caused him some embarrassment, there were also needless mistakes in Bahrain, China and Canada. But these were more than made up for in performances such as Sepang, Spain, Silverstone and so many more.

Not only was Ferrari's reputation rekindled in 2015, so too was Sebastian's the German taking the fight for championship runner-up all the way to Brazil.

An unashamed fan of Schumacher, from the outset Sebastian sought to emulate his hero. As in 1996, a German was pulling the team together giving it back its self-belief.

While neither the win in Hungary or Singapore was fluky, Ferrari never quite had the legs of the Mercedes, yet the Stuttgart outfit was clearly worried still looking to the red team in Abu Dhabi, reacting to its strategy.

While much of the credit goes to the team, nobody should underestimate Sebastian's contribution. Though Hamilton rightly took the title, in the eyes of many - including the editor of this site - the German was the driver of the year.

Having had his demand for a couple of race wins met in 2015, for 2016 Sergio Marchionne upped the pressure... just a little. Now he wanted the title.

While few, probably not even the Ferrari president himself, believed his demands would be met, we all hoped that the Maranello outfit would equal, if not surpass, its 2015 achievements. It didn't, far from it.

Based on the evidence for much of the Melbourne weekend things were looking good. Filling the second row, Vettel and Raikkonen were looking strong... and they looked even better when the lights went out, the pair catching the Mercedes duo on the hoof.

Sadly, that was good as it got.

Like Ferrari, 2016 marked Seb's second winless year in three seasons, though the first of these had been with Red Bull.

While much of the blame lies with the team, both for its poor strategy and reliability - three times Vettel suffering grid penalties following gearbox failures - Sebastian must shoulder some of the responsibility.

Poor strategy cost him in Australia, Monaco and Canada, which probably explains the number of times we heard the German questioning team decisions. Then there was Bahrain, Russia and Malaysia where he failed to complete the first lap.

Intriguingly however, ahead of the summer break the German was 8-2 up on his teammate in terms of qualifying, while in the second half of the year it was Raikkonen who was 7-2 up. Had Sebastian lost his mojo, had Kimi upped his game or - as some suspect - was the German devoting much of his time to the team's 2017 preparations.

Fact is, while Sebastian hid his frustration well at the start of the season - witness his epic plea for the seagulls in Canada - as the season wore on so his growing frustration became more and more apparent. At first it was backmarkers, then the likes of Verstappen and Ricciardo and finally his Mexico meltdown and the message to Charlie.

One is tempted to remind Sebastian that those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it, and all the German had to do was look at the five frustrating seasons Fernando Alonso laboured with the team.

As we witnessed at McLaren (and how!), the Spaniard is not a quitter, however, as was the case at Red Bull in 2014, there were times in 2016 when Sebastian's heart really didn't seem to be in it.

In the wake of Nico Rosberg's shock retirement, as we looked ahead to 2017 we warned that should Ferrari fail to deliver a competitive package, the sport might lose yet another high-profile German racer.

Reflecting on a season which saw him lead the drivers' championship for the first half, Sebastian admitted to disappointment. Whether that was aimed at his team or himself is up for debate.

In pre-season testing the team appeared to have taken a major step forward, certainly in terms of pace. Tantalisingly however, the Maranello outfit never showed its full hand, allowing both Sebastian and Raikkonen to set a blistering pace in the opening sectors only to ease off in S3.

However, the early promise was well and truly delivered on in Australia where Sebastian took a convincing win. Another win in Bahrain was proof positive that Melbourne was no fluke and finally Mercedes appeared to have a fight on its hands.

In the SF70H, Ferrari had delivered a good all-round car that though lacking outright grunt, was good to its tyres and appeared to work well in all conditions. To see where Ferrari was really missing out however, one needed to look no further than Saturday afternoon, when Mercedes could regularly turn it up to 11, Nigel Tufnell style, leaving the Maranello squad thinking 'if only'.

With a decent steed beneath him Sebastian too was able to raise his game, relishing the chance to take the fight to Mercedes. Make no mistake however, while the SF70H was a vast improvement on its predecessor, it was not the equal of the Mercedes, and much of the credit for those early results belongs to Sebastian. That said, it would be unfair to all concerned to point to Raikkonen's numerous lacklustre performances and suggest they represented the SF70H's true standing.

Though the Ferrari didn't have the pace of the Mercedes, especially when in 'quali-mode', someone forgot to tell Sebastian who frequently split the Silver Arrows on Saturday afternoons, thereby enabling him to start Sunday's races with a certain amount of say in the proceedings.

Sadly, for many, Sebastian's 2017 season will be remembered for the meltdown in Baku and the start-line clash in Singapore which eliminated both Ferraris and a hapless Max Verstappen.

This is sad, because along the way there were some epic drives and some great overtakes - much appreciated in a season which saw such moves drop by 50% - Bahrain, where he beat the Mercedes duo fair and square despite an issue with his car, being a prime example. Then there was the move on Ricciardo in China and the no nonsense dispatching of the Force India duo in Canada.

How one summed up Sebastian's 2017 season largely depended on whether you are of the glass half-full or half-empty variety. Fact is, Baku made it clear that Hamilton had got to him which, of course, only ultimately aided the Briton. Ignoring Singapore, Ferrari reliability cost him two possible further wins.

If - and it's a big ask - Ferrari could maintain the momentum in 2018, and Sebastian could hold it together, not allowing Hamilton to get inside his head, then the German might finally begin to start repeating his idol's success with the Maranello squad. However, it was not to be.

We make no apologies for the fact that we have a real soft spot for Sebastian. Perhaps it is because - for various reasons - we have followed his career from his early days, or perhaps it is the fact he is clearly an Anglophile, particularly in terms of his sense of humour.

However, in 2018 he let us down.

Benefitting from the safety car in Australia, a convincing win in Bahrain could have been followed by another in China, but for Ferrari's strategic error in terms of responding to Bottas, though a late clash with an over-ambitious Verstappen didn't help his cause.

However, it was in France that the first cracks began to show, Sebastian colliding with Bottas at the start and subsequently doing well to nurse his car home to fifth.

But worse was to follow...

Beginning in Germany, and continuing in Monza and seemingly all points east and west, the German made numerous unnecessary and unforced errors, to the point that he effectively handed the title to Hamilton.

An early season lead was squandered, and though Ferrari took a significant backward step in terms of development of the car late-season, Sebastian, in his own none-too-small way was gifting Hamilton his fifth title.

If the Briton had got under his skin in 2017, in 2018 he was running through his veins like a virus, the German, at times, looking like a rookie, and not a particularly good one.

Absolutely refusing to listen to the adage about races not being won at the first corner, with every needless lunge Sebastian appeared not to have learned the lesson of his previous mistakes.

Along with the errors, the German's mood changed, the smiles becoming far less frequent, it was as if he knew what was happening but could do nothing about it.

By season end we were predicting that Sebastian might 'do a Rosberg' and quit over the winter, but this was not to be. However, with the added pressure of hot-shot Charles Leclerc as teammate it remained to be seen if the four-time champion would raise his game accordingly or opt to call time and head off into retirement.

When partnered by Daniel Ricciardo in 2014, Sebastian was totally overshadowed by the youngster, and in the eyes of many Leclerc is even more talented, and a product of Ferrari's own young driver programme.

2019 was always going to be a vital season for Sebastian... and that was without Hamilton or Verstappen seeking to get under his skin.

In our summary of Ferrari's season we recalled George Santayana's belief that "those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it", sadly this would appear to apply to Seb also.

Finishing fifth in the championship - his worst finish since 2014 - was bad enough, but the fact that his teammate finished fourth, claimed more wins and more poles tells you pretty much all you need to know.

The mistakes we hoped we had seen the back of in 2018 continued, and in some cases were even worse.

Spinning in the opening laps at Monza was bad enough, but clouting Lance Stroll as he rejoined the track... and then there was Brazil, where the inevitable finally happened. And let's not forget Bahrain, Canada or Silverstone.

While Leclerc was in only his second season, Vettel was making rookie-like mistakes again and again, and while we pondered whether he might even be dropped by the team - which had once fired Alain Prost - Helmut Marko was only too keen to remind the world that this was a four-time world champion who should not be written off.

To that end, witness his performance in Germany, where, having started from last on the grid, in a race which caught out the likes of Hamilton and Bottas, Seb held it all together and worked his way up to second.

He drove another great race in Canada, but a debatable squeeze on Hamilton cost him dear. His antics after the race were uncharacteristic, and showed that the frustration was clearly getting to him.

Though 'robbed' of victory in Canada, Seb took his sole win in Singapore, though this owed much to the team's strategy, which worked in favour of the German over his teammate.

Coming off the back of two largely disappointing seasons it would be easy to write Seb off, but, as Helmut Marko has noted, this is a four-time champion, who on occasions demonstrates that he's still 'got it', witness his pole-winning laps in Canada and Japan.

However, with Leclerc's contract extended until the end of 2024, Ferrari clearly sees the Monegasque as 'the future', and if Seb is to remain in the mix he has to prove himself.

First off he has to stop making mistakes, and in particular the clashes during 'hand-to-hand combat'. Then, despite his dismissal of sports psychologists, he has to get his head in the right place. No matter how gifted Leclerc, Seb has hard-won experience, and the German must actually start believing in himself.

It's an overused expression, but for Mr Vettel, 2020 really is a make or break season.

Share this page


Copyright © Pitpass 2002 - 2024. All rights reserved.

about us  |  advertise  |  contact  |  privacy & security  |  rss  |  terms