Four-time Formula One World Champion Sebastian Vettel is under increasing pressure in the Italian media following a poor showing at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday.
The Italian press branded Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc as Ferrari’s new “golden boy” as the patience in Vettel seems to have worn off.
Following a poor start in the season opener at Albert Park, Vettel’s Ferrari team had got their act together and were fastest all weekend on a more high-speed circuit.
The German, who for years has widely been regarded as Ferrari’s number one driver, still had a troubled weekend.
Firstly, he was shown up in Saturday’s qualifying as his young counterpart Leclerc out qualified him for pole position.
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The race itself looked more promising for Vettel early on as he romped past his Monegasque teammate from the line.
However, Vettel quickly struggled as Leclerc powered back to overtake him, then Vettel was caught by Lewis Hamilton’s slower Mercedes and then a mistake from the Ferrari man saw him spin his car consequently damaging his front wing later in the lap.
In the end, last year’s championship runner-up finished fifth leaving the Italian fans and press crucifying their main man.
La Repubblica said: "Vettel lost his front wing and his nerve in Bahrain," and then added: “Leclerc is the true rival of Lewis Hamilton.”
La Stampa were extremely blunt and abrupt in their criticism, advising Vettel to “get a mental coach and shave the moustache."
Corriere dello Sport said: “Ferrari looks to a future in which there is no room for Vettel.
“Mick Schumacher could soon be at the side of the talented Charles Leclerc.”
Sebastian Vettel denied that the pressure gets to him which further created discussion around his mental strength.
Former world champion and now pundit Nico Rosberg disagreed with Vettel’s comments and casted his opinion on the matter.
“Sebastian has a hell of a fight on his hands with Charles. Already last season we saw him crack under pressure, and that seems to still be the case,” he said.
Martin Brundle also commented on the situation at Ferrari suggesting: “It won’t be long before Leclerc is the new main man there.”
The pressure is on Vettel now more than ever, and with errors more frequent, it’s fair to suggest this is probably the most challenging moment in his so-far illustrious career.
Time will tell whether the German will remain Ferrari’s main man, but Leclerc is certainly giving him something to think about.