Anyone who said that Formula 1 was boring, lying low, and was sort of dull just got a reality check. It appears that the season that hitherto was about a lull just got a spark of life of sorts, albeit through a piece of news that seems as polarizing as it is dramatic in nature. Popular Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel is due to leave the team at the end of the 2020 season, news reports just confirmed.
For the longest time, especially post the completion of the 2019 season, doubts and suspicions that had begun to surface regarding Vettel’s Ferrari future.
And there we have it. Did he expect it, did Ferrari have that for certain, we will never know!
But in the context of the sport, this isn’t just any development, something that least of all, deserves to be called random. It’s a mega-development. It signals the end of the line for the current Ferrari driver, who has against his name the experience of having driven for 101 races, until the end of the 2019 season.
It’ll be exciting to see Sebastian Vettel win more races in his red racing overalls, albeit what’s left of it now is a truncated season given the Coronavirus pandemic.
But what’ll spell a sense of despair would be to see Vettel failing to pick up a win, provided one is to see finally some racing in the 2020 season.
To his defence, Sebastian Vettel can feel that there wasn’t much of a chance to fight for the title in 2020, the entirety of the season having been put to a standstill in lines with the COVID-19 lockdown.
But what’s definite and cannot be countered is that what Vettel did have, at his disposal, were 5 full seasons in which to counter Mercedes and in effect, Lewis Hamilton, his biggest threat thus far.
Sebastian Vettel arrived to wear the smashing red racing overalls in 2015, his debut season. But it didn’t take him long to prove his power, winning the Malaysian Grand Prix, just the second race of the season, disallowing both Mercedes drivers to take the checkered flag.
From that point on, Vettel would bag 13 more race wins, taking his overall win counter with Ferrari to 14. That of his 53 career wins, 14 have come with the famous Scuderia stable means that his record is firm and respectable.
But one wonders, how solid might it have looked in the presence of at least one world championship.
Most drivers racing in Formula 1 have one dream, which is to race for the famous Grand Prix outfit. That Vettel had a massive chance albeit no success will always spell disappointment to a career that has not one or two but 4 world championships.
What’s more? The man who immediately proved his worth driving the Scarlet Red cars scoring 278 points in his debut season, giving fine competition to both Mercedes drivers- championship-winning Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg- found himself outscored by a younger teammate in Charles Leclerc if you speak of the 2019 season.
In the first year of teaming alongside a new driver in the absence of Alfa Romeo-bound Kimi Raikkonen, Vettel found himself with 240 points at the completion of the 2019 run, with Leclerc scoring 264.
There was greater ignominy in seeing a young, vastly inexperienced Monegasque driver scoring 2 wins to the only win he was able to bag, at the electrifying night safari of Singapore.
But in a 6-year stint, Vettel has also managed to give fierce competition to the one man that can be called his greatest threat to the world title. The performances in 2017 and 2018, where the German collected far more points than his run from 2015-16, meant he was coming closer to Lewis, although, as proven in the end, not quite close.
While the 2016 season unfurled a dip in his fortunes, much of the year’s glory belonging to Nico Rosberg, the champion, Vettel came back stronger the following year, scoring 317 in 2017 vis-a-vis his 212 the previous season.
In 2018, he would move to a better output. In scoring 320, he would collect the most he has, insofar driving a Scuderia machine. While we must respect and not undervalue the collection of 54 podiums with Ferrari, what’ll always come to hurt him is the failure to conquer a world title to raise the toast and the bar for a team whose last world champion, still is Kimi Raikkonen with his enigmatic 2007 triumph.