Sebastian Vettel has had probably his worst start to a season during his stint with Scuderia Ferrari, which started five years ago back in 2015.
Part of which has been down to the car’s relative performance to the rest of the field, however, former Ferrari driver Gerhard Berger (1987-1989, 1993-1995) has stated on Austria Television after the Anniversary Grand Prix that they shouldn't wait until the end of the season to part ways with the German.
"For the mood in the respective teams, it would be best to switch to the 2021 line-ups now," he stated, as per RTE.
This is, of course, a damning blow to the four-time World Champion, especially coming from the person who played a pivotal role in convincing Red Bull to sign him from BMW back in 2007.
The results do not lie. Vettel finished outside the top 10, and for the past two weekends has looked amateur in comparison to his younger teammate Charles Leclerc, who finished fourth in a stunning race performance at the 70th Anniversary GP.
The poor results and pace relative to Leclerc this season, along with his latest unforced error during wheel-to-wheel combat, has certainly raised a question over Vettel’s motivation.
He is currently out of a drive for 2021 (although there are strong links for a seat at Racing Point, soon to be called Aston Martin Racing) and Ferrari already made a commitment to priortise Leclerc at the back end of 2019, although Ferrari were not public over driver preference. It is a sad sight to see a multiple World Champion fall away like he is currently.
Gerhard Berger’s point is indeed valid, especially since Carlos Sainz (Vettel’s replacement for 2021) is performing well at McLaren, however, it is unlikely that Ferrari will do this.
This could be put down to the close battle over third in the Constructors’ Championship, meaning that McLaren are unlikely to willingly hand over one of their two superstar drivers to their rivals mid-season. Along with this, the political minefield of driver contracts might be a distraction from the important matters of improving the car.
It would be unwise for Ferrari to chase up Sainz during the season when they are going to have him joining the team in four to five months time.
The friction between Vettel and Ferrari was heightened during an in-race radio in which Vettel told his race engineer" “It is in the gap that we didn’t like. We spoke about it this morning. I’ll hang in there, but you know that you’ve messed up.”
Although the sour divorce will happen, it is highly unlikely that it will occur during mid-season, although anything can happen in Formula One, so let’s keep watching this space.
- Hamilton now has same podium finishes as Schumacher
- Verstappen would win the title if he was a Mercedes driver
- Vettel: 10 times he's proved he's finished as a top F1 driver