In Depth

F1: Sebastian Vettel ‘not worried’ by form but is his Ferrari future at risk?

As Charles Leclerc celebrated at Monza team-mate Vettel had a race to forget

Vettel: ‘I am not worried’ 

It was a mixed weekend for the Ferrari team at the Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix. 

On Sunday Charles Leclerc celebrated victory for the Scuderia in their home GP, but for Sebastian Vettel he had a race to forget at Monza. 

German driver Vettel finished 13th after receiving a ten-second stop-go penalty for colliding with Lance Stroll’s Racing Point. Vettel span off on lap six and as he returned to the track he hit Stroll’s car.

The error was his ninth in 28 races, BBC Sport reports, and the 32-year-old is now three penalty points away from a one-race ban. 

Currently fifth in the 2019 F1 drivers’ standings Vettel is under pressure from Ferrari fans and the Italian media to turn his season around. He’s also having to compete with Leclerc, who is emerging as Ferrari’s No.1 driver following back-to-back wins. 

But speaking to the BBC after the Italian GP Vettel said: “The speed is there so I am not worried. It is just a matter of putting things together.”

Dark days for Vettel as Leclerc becomes No.1

Ex-Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg believes Vettel is in a “dark” place following his disastrous race in Italy. 

Quoted by the Independent, Rosberg said: “This moment must be so dark for Vettel. His team-mate [Leclerc] just became an absolute Ferrari legend, taking his number one status in the team.

“It is unexplainable for me. He is a four-time world champion, he is one of the best guys out there and to make a mistake like that, on your own, just spinning the car, is so strange.”

‘Ferrari future is at risk’: press react to Monza

The Italian newspapers also blasted Vettel for his performance at Monza. 

Corriere della Sera says that Vettel “was the captain until now, but not anymore”, while La Stampa praised Leclerc for his win in the team’s home grand prix.

“Leclerc resisted the pressure of Lewis Hamilton to give Ferrari an unforgettable victory,” said La Stampa. “Thanks to his win, the terrible performance of Vettel was secondary for Ferrari.”

Corriere dello Sport was even more scathing: “Something has broken in Vettel’s strength. He didn’t have the strength of a world champion.

“The worst was that he was made to look silly by Lance Stroll, who isn’t exactly the reincarnation of Ayrton Senna or Jim Clark.

“His future at Ferrari is at risk. Can Vettel really get it back? Is that possible when you have someone like Leclerc at your side.

“Would you really want to stay for another year?”

Problems are psychological 

Francesco Svelto of f1sport.it feels Vettel’s situation at Ferrari is down to pressure within the team. He said: “Perhaps the problem of Vettel is not limited only to the episode of Monza. 

“Vettel’s problems are psychological in nature, perhaps he feels the pressure in the team and in particular of his team-mate.

“A seemingly endless crisis, which began last year and is still ongoing. But this is another story that maybe we will deepen later.”

Seismic shift in power 

Following Leclerc’s victory at Monza ESPN’s F1 editor Laurence Edmondson feels there has been a “seismic shift in the power dynamic at Ferrari”.

Edmondson writes: “Ever since the start of the year, the team had erred towards Sebastian Vettel as its lead driver - giving him preference in 50/50 situations and standing by him when he made mistakes - but after the events of Sunday, that privileged position appears to be under threat.”

Ferrari must ‘fix’ Vettel

Vettel’s Ferrari contract expires at the end of the 2020 season, but Planet F1 reports that his “future at Ferrari, and indeed in Formula 1, is up for debate once again” after yet another big mistake on the track.

If Ferrari want to challenge for the championship next year then they will need to rebuild Vettel’s confidence. That’s the opinion of Ross Brawn, F1’s managing director of motorsports and technical director.

Quoted by Autosport, Brawn said: “Vettel is clearly one of the greats of our sport, but at this tough time he really needs the support of the team to regain the confidence he seems to be lacking at the moment. 

“That, as well as pushing on with the car development, has to be a priority for [Ferrari team principal] Mattia Binotto in the coming weeks. It won’t be easy, but it is essential especially in terms of 2020.”

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