Weekend debate: Where did Vettel’s F1 championship challenge unravel?
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: Editor   |  14 Oct 2018   |  12:46 pm GMT  |  194 comments

With Lewis Hamilton now all-but-certain to claim his fifth world title and be crowned as the 2018 drivers’ champion, year-long championship rival Sebastian Vettel will be left to rue the mistakes that will almost-definitely allow his rival to take the top honours with races to spare.

The ingredients were there to make the 2018 a close, hard-fought affair; two four-time world champions aiming to beat each other to a fifth and two giants of the automotive industry with unlimited budget developing their cars until the very end to give their drivers every chance of winning.

Instead, with Hamilton taking his fourth win in a row – his sixth in seven races – the championship is on the verge of being decided with three races remaining on the calendar.

With the gap between the two drivers being as big as it is, it’s tough to point to just one event that was the difference between them. With both teams taking turns at being ‘the fastest car’ over the course of 2018, for a championship to be – potentially – decided this early, a number of Grands Prix must not have gone to plan.

From a statistical point of view, Vettel has never finished behind team-mate Raikkonen in more than six races a season, but he has finished behind the Finn six times already this year, with four races still to go.

So where did his championship challenge falter? We take a look at the key moments in Vettel’s 2018 challenge.

Round three: Chinese Grand Prix

Leading an all-Ferrari front row lockout, Ferrari were firm favourites for the win in Shanghai. However, rear-gunner Kimi Raikkonen was passed by Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas at the start of the race, with Vettel then falling foul of the undercut to fall behind the Finn.

With the safety car deployed for a collision between the Toro Rosso drivers, both Ferrari and Mercedes drivers were disadvantaged; quick-thinking Red Bull pitted their drivers for fresh tyres, resulting in Verstappen and Ricciardo scything their way through to threaten the race leaders.

An ambitious attempt by Verstappen resulted in a collision between himself and Vettel, sending the Ferrari driver – and his damaged car – down to an eighth-placed finish.

Round four: Azerbaijan Grand Prix

On pole position for the third race in a row, Vettel was in control of the event until the second safety car period was called for the collision between Vertappen and Ricciardo.

Bottas had stayed out longer whilst all other leaders had made their pit stop, so kept the lead of the race when everybody came in for fresh tyres under the safety car.

At the restart, Vettel, also under threat of being overtaken at the end of the huge start-finish straight, made a move on Bottas. This backfired. He locked up, ran wide, lost positions and eventually finished fourth, with rival Hamilton inheriting the lead from last-lap-retiree Bottas.

Round eight: French Grand Prix

Now leading the championship by one point, Vettel’s attempts to unhinge an all-Mercedes front row at the Paul Ricard Circuit backfired; he locked up into turn one and clattered into second-placed Bottas, sending them both to the back of the field.

Vettel recovered to fifth, but Hamilton was untroubled in taking his third win of the season.

Round eleven: German Grand Prix

Perhaps one of the biggest turning points of the season: From the race lead, Vettel made a painful error at the Sachs Curve in damp conditions to send his Ferrari skipping across the gravel trap and into the tyre barrier.

This handed the win to Hamilton – who had fought his way from fourteenth on the grid to second – and had the effect of changing the outcome of the drivers’ standings by 32 points (the 25 lost for Vettel plus the extra seven gained by Hamilton).

Round twelve: Hungarian Grand Prix

Undone by wet weather at the previous round in Germany, Vettel’s weekend was once again affected by an undesired rain shower. With Ferrari having the fastest car around the Hungaroring, a wet qualifying session hampered their hopes of a win.

Starting in fourth behind the two Mercedes and team-mate Raikkonen, Vettel moved up to third on the opening lap and spent almost the entire race trying to find a way past Bottas, eventually succeeding with only a few laps to go, finishing a distant second to Hamilton.

Round fourteen: Italian Grand Prix

After winning at Spa-Francorchamps, expectations were high for a Ferrari victory at Monza. Vettel, however, was beaten to pole by team-mate Raikkonen, although he did edge Hamilton to a front row start.

Unable to overtake Raikkonen at the start, Vettel came under pressure from Hamilton heading into the second chicane. Side-by-side, contact between them sent Vettel spinning and to the back of the field.

He recovered to fourth, but Hamilton dealt maximum damage by beating the other Ferrari to the Monza win.

Round seventeen: Japanese Grand Prix

Following back-to-back rounds of Hamilton edging further ahead in the drivers’ championship, Vettel – who started eighth due to qualifying on the wrong tyre in wet-dry conditions – set about trying to overtake cars as quickly as possible.

However, his charge ended when his attempted overtake on Verstappen sent him off-track and to the back of the pack. Another race recovery brought a sixth-place finish, but means that Hamilton is now only a matter of points away from the drivers’ title.

By: Luke Murphy

All images: Motorsport Images

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1

All the Ham fans scrambling to figure out how to make the narrative all about how good he was as opposed to how Vet/Ferrari gifted him this championship.

Lets be honest, Ferrari had the car to put a sustained challenge but Vettel gave away too many points. In the end the Merc and Lewis might have been stronger and won anyway but there’s no denying that Ferrari/Vettel have themselves to blame for losing this. Hamilton just drove like a seasoned professional, collecting any and all points possible, helped by the rain Gods and his very cooperative wingman (Germany radio “Copy James”)

Vettel needs to up his game drastically next year, not that i think Lec will be any close to him in qualy/race but for his own sake/reputation. I think Max made 6 mistakes in a row, Vettel probably has more over the season

2

I really don’t see the two things as mutually exclusive. Hamilton is about to win the WDC both because of how good he was *and* how Vettel/Ferrari gifted him the championship.

It takes more than being a “seasoned professionals” to beat someone in better machinery even if the rival is doing a lot of mistakes. As an example, Schumacher made far more errors in 2003 than Vettel did this year and still won that championship against Raikkonen who was on top of his game and drove virtually flawlessly all year. Yeah, I’m aware that in that case Raikkonen was against the best car in what was probably third best machinery (Williams was strong that season), but you get my point. Regardless of how many errors the rival(s) are doing, winning a WDC without the fastest car is always something to be very highly praised, and that is why I will always have a huge respect for Hamilton, Alonso, Senna, Prost, etc. Vettel did win some races without the fastest car, but he was never remotely close of being a serious WDC contender in those conditions, and that is why I wouldn’t put him on the same league as those.

3

Germany turned the tide and got Hamilton’s spirits up, Italy was the crushing blow, and Singapore the knockout punch!

All in all Lewis has done a better job under pressure, maximising points consistently. Seb can be too rash and emotional in the heat of the moment and that decision making is something he’ll need to improve to keep Charles from taking his spot s #1 at Ferrari.

4

“rash and emotional”…

That seems to describe the team Ferrari. Maybe that transfers to the drivers? The only two successful eras in Ferrari’s F1 history came with Lauda and Schumacher, neither of whom could be considered rash and emotional.

5

Steve, while I completely agree about Lauda, I don’t about Schumacher. With the exception of the seasons on which his machinery advantage was so absurd the title could be decided well before the ending, he has virtually always done something silly – which could be very well be described as “being rash and emotional”. In 1994 he was leading the title deciding race, made a silly mistake and crashed his car, then came back to the track in order to crash into Hill. In 1997 he was leading the title deciding race again, and again he crashed into Villeneuve (only it didn’t work this time). In 1998 he let the car stall in the title deciding race, and in a desperate attempt to recover he destroyed his tires. In 2003 the title deciding race was a comedy of errors – he crashed into his brother not only once but twice, had a lot of small excursions outside of the track and even though he was driving a car that was good enough for an easy win (Kimi simply couldn’t get close of Barrichello), he barely got the 8th place he needed to be WDC. I guess 2006 was the single event on which he was still fighting for the WDC in the very last race and he didn’t do anything silly. There was one Michael Schumacher when he had a clean track and an amazing car, the guy who could produce series of flawless and blisteringly quick, but another Schumacher who, when against serious competition and/or better cars, was not really that precise and focused.

6

Since the 70’s yes. Obviously they had great success from 1952 to 1964, winning 6 titles in those 13 seasons.

7

The drop in form, has nothing to do with Vettel, nothing to do with tires, nothing to do with Hamilton being better… but everything to do with Mercedes lobbying the FIA to stop the advantage Ferrari have with their battery. Ever since the 2nd sensor was installed the speed advantage has disappeared. All the Mercedes and Hamilton fans can thank the FIA for a gifted World Championship. We had an exciting season shaping up and now its all gone. The last 2 races 1-2 for Mercedes have proven that their car is now unbeatable again.

8

The trouble with that version of events is that it would acknowledge Ferrari were cheating to win and it is unfair to stop them cheating to give them a chance of winning.

All the teams are scrutinised. The protocol is that innovations are meant to be approved by the FIA so there should be no surprises in the car when the FIA inspect them. Ferrari could not explain to the FIA what they were doing.

9

Very valid point Michael, but it doesnt support the narrative of this website.

From when FIA fitted that second sensor onto Ferrari’s car their performance drop was evident and has publicly been recognized by several other team leadership figures, including Cyril Abiteboul from Renault and engine guru Andy Cowell from Mercedes. This is evident and hard data captured from the cars GPS data collected by all teams across all the teams. From this we can see that Ferrari has dropped down considerably in power under acceleration.

Another question is if Ferrari will pursue a complaint to FIA, as due to the revelations some of their intellectual property is now known to other teams that they had split the full battery capacity allowed into separate compartments, each with their own individual usage purpose and parameters for kinetic harvesting and power boosts to the drivetrain.

10

Copy 🙂

11

No poll?

12

Just going to add my 2 cents on this interesting debate:

1, Seb had a better pitwall team at RBR, he could trust the team on the calls they made and just put the car on pole, break the DRS and drive off into the sunset.

He clearly can’t do that at Ferrari, they’re simply not good enough so his making the decisions whilst driving so basically doing two jobs which adds pressure. I don’t think he trusts the calls they make and on evidence his right but the outcome is it affects his performance.

2. Clearly with 2nd sensor installed by FIA on the engine has played a part, you don’t suddenly go 7th tenths slower from being 2th tenths faster overnight.

3. Losing Kimi and gaining a young hungry buck like LEC means they’re looking beyond Seb now.

4. I don’t remember a season when one car has been so heavily scrutinized by the FIA following constant complains by Merc & Renault (James Allison even took his infamous white folder to Whiting to deem the red car ilgeal, Charlie advised him the data he presented was 8 months old) this when is very sad sportmanship.

5. Yes, Seb made errors whilst Merc have been faultless, it was a long ask to break the Merc deadlock and probably be fruitless until 2021.

6. Would Alonso been any better? We will never know.

and finally, respect to Ferrari for going radical this season, at least that gave us some hope, always known for being conservative but they pushed out on development and you can see a lot of Seb influence on the car.

Ferrari are not far off from winning a WDC or WCC but (big BUT) they need to stop thinking like Italians (Bernie’s own words) if they want to be successful.

Thank you for reading.

Peace folks.

13

While I am not 100% sure I agree that Ferrari are to blame for Seb’s mistakes, the argument above goes hand in hand with “It is a team effort” I.E. no driver can be deamed the best based on results as results belong to a Team and not an individual.
If Ferrari are part to blame for Seb’s errors then Merc are part to blame for Hamiltons Lack of errors – Correct? and therefore, Seb in a Merc would probably be doing as good a job as Hamilton.

14

Uh, no. What part did Ferrari have in Vettel’s off in Germany?

Results are part driver, part car, part team.

In my opinion Hamilton would have won this year in the Merc or Ferrari.

15

Some good points there but “poor sportsmanship”? Behave!! This is F1 sweetheart. Every advantage you can gain is taken. If Ferrari were above board then there was nothing to worry about. Seems SOMETHING has been noted as not entirely legal hence their dramatic drop in pace. You race and develop your car hard but you got to stay within the confines of the laws of the game. You think Ferrari aren’t challenging Mercs developments? Again…Behave!

16

It’s been hard to ignore what has essentially been a season-long run of mistakes from Vettel for his second season in a row.

If he had just made the odd unforced error here and there, I don’t think anybody would be all that fussed and would brush it off as being expected to happen in a close fought battle. Even if you could say that Vettel’s mistakes had been the deciding factor in his rival winning the title, at least you could also say in the same breath that the battle was close and at any rate, somebody has to lose. Even for two seasons in a row, the odd unforced error here and there would be no real talking point.

But that’s not what has happened over the last two seasons. Where Ferrari have provided either a competitive car, or a faster car for a large chunk of the season only to have their lead driver make mistake after mistake and failing to capitalise on Ferrari’s advantage.

But as it is, it’s been a trend of unforced errors that really doesn’t reflect too well on Vettel’s ability. I don’t think anybody could be criticised for thinking that perhaps Vettel just isn’t as good as his title rival or that perhaps he was never as good as we were led to believe from his days at Red Bull.

17

Vettel’s championship started to unravel in Germany, that was the big turning point.
Before then Vettel had had a few mistakes, as had Ferrari and Mercedes and Lewis had a few lacklustre weekends. The balance between drivers and teams swung from race to race. The loss of points by the Mercs in Austria was balanced by the crashes in China, France and Britain by Ferrari.
The mistake in Germany was huge, and had consequences in Hungry.
Vettel ‘s qualifying lap in Hungry was very conservative, he kept a couple of feet off all the white lines around the track. He was clearly worried about the damp track performance of the Ferrari, as did not want to end up binning the car as in Germany.
Actually in Germany up to the point Vettel put the car in the wall he was doing a great job. He was lapping between 0.5 – 1.0 second faster than Kimi and Bottas, the problem was Lewis was lapping 2 seconds quicker and would of probably caught Seb and passed him before the final lap.
Was Seb in a good state of mind as Ferrari left him behind Kimi for 10-11 laps, if they let him past immediately then he would not have needed to push so much in damp conditions, but who knows.
I thought at the summer break Seb had to win 2 of the next 3 races to be challenging, but after Spa the momentum was with Ferrari and I thought Lewis had to win one of the next 2 races as both tracks were Ferrari tracks.
Singapore was the nail in the coffin, a bogey tack for the Mercs and Lewis achieves a stunning pole position and his car is clearly working on all tracks. Suddenly we have to revise who is favourite at the remaining tracks and as the constructors championship is likely to be unresolved if Lewis wins the drivers in Austin, he will be still going full bore in Mexico and probably Brazil.

18

The other thing I forgot to mention was Vettel hitting the wall at Singapore in Q2 immediately put him on the back foot and it showed. He lost valuable time and a loss of confidence, as we saw in previous years he loved kissing the wall look at his pole lap in 2017 he hit that quite hard and got away with it. This year he had car capable, but couldn’t convert it to pole in Singapore at that was the nail in the coffin.
It’s funny really how small the margins in the championship have been, a few inches here and there on the race track have had huge impacts, Germany – Vettel stays on track just or manages to run in part of the gravel before re-joining, Hungry – Vettel pushes more in qualifying and has a better grid position more confidence in the damp conditions, Italy – Vettel is further behind and when he hits Lewis, it is the Merc that spins, Singapore – Vettel just kisses the wall in Q2 and has a better run in qualifying. It shows how close to the limit the contenders are driving small errors, big consequences.

19

I think his championship challenge started to unravel when hw left RB…

20

vettel’s performance is exaggerated compared with hamilton’s. looks more favourable compared with raikkonen alonso ricciardo and co. hamilton is simply too good for the rest of the field. he could drive till he’s 60 and still beat them all.

21

“he could drive till he’s 60 and still beat them all.”
What a silly statement. How do you expect anyone to take you seriously when you make comments like that?

22

Hamilton would already have lost 2 of his poles to Verstappen if it hadn’t been for his extra party mode. Just a hint of what could happen already now if Max were in a better car.

23

I wish we also had Nico Rosberg’s alter ego posting on this forum.

24

Well, Hamilton isn’t going to beat them all at age 60, but everyone has to admit that he’s pretty darn good…

25

Vettel does not drive well in changing conditions.. When he was at red bull he could get away with not being the best driver because of his vehicle’s Superior power. The rain affected races and qualifying sessions certainly helped to give Hamilton the points needed to overturn vettel’s lead

26

Agreed. I think VET’s let himself down a lot this season with too many mistakes especially on damp/wet tracks. It’s a shame but his performance this season (sor far!) will undoubtedly tarnish his past achievements.

27

Points disparity is a combination of Vettel losing (where he shouldn’t -e.g. Monza) but also Hamilton winning (where wasn’t supposed to – e.g Singapore, Germany).

I think all this talk of Vettel & Ferrari losing 2018 (we are not there yet!) is doing a disservice to the excellent run of form from LH and Merc team as a whole.

28

It’s been a combination of Vettel’s mistakes, and Hamilton’s spectacular season of driving, for sure. Hamilton has not made a single mistake worthy of mention. He’s had some storming drives … Italy and Germany being two of the best.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Hamilton could (and should) get a perfect score from this season’s end-of-season team principals’ poll. In prior years you’d have some TP’s give the 25 pts to their own driver, so as not to discourage their own charge. However, this is a year where there is absolutely zero doubt as to who’s been the best driver.

Seb? Far too many mistakes. Max? First six races were a mess, so nope. Dan? Beaten handily by Max, so nope. Fernando? Despite all those “career-best” laps, I think not.

It’s not like any of Seb or Max could have any objection to their TP’s voting Hamilton the best driver. What we’ve all seen this year is quite a rare thing in F1. The driver in the car which has not been quickest in the majority of races, nor has been the most reliable, is winning. That hardly ever happens.

So yeah, I’m expecting a perfect 250 score for Hamilton in this season’s TP poll.

29

Hamilton does have one weakness. Starts. Maybe he would have 80 wins to go along with the poles if it wasn’t for that.

30

Hmm, not sure about that. Since 2017 when the driver has full control over the clutch and its bite point, can you list his bad starts? In 2016 he had a number of them, but that was when the team had a significant contribution towards the launch procedure and bite point find.

31

The fact that both Mercedes drivers struggled with poor starts in 2016 indicates an inherent problem with the car, as opposed to the drivers.

https://www.thecheckeredflag.co.uk/2016/04/mercedes-look-clutch-hardware-cause-poor-starts/

In fact, Rosberg actually lost more points through poor starts than Hamilton:

ROS lost 13 pts in GER, 8 pts in CAN, and 7 pts in HUN. That’s 28 pts. On the other side, Hamilton lost 7 pts in AUS, 10 pts in BHN, 7 pts in ITA and 3 pts in JPN. That’s 27 pts

Did both Rosberg & Hamilton suddenly forget how to start a car? I don’t think so. That was surely down to some inherent issue with the Merc starting system/car.

As for 2017, Vettel had a poor start in Singapore 2017. That’s why he had to move across to aggresively defend from Max.
Vettel was also beaten off the line in Russia 2017 and in a few other races too. So, when you measure Hamilton’s starts against other drivers, and look at the overall picture, there really is nothing out of the ordinary. In other words, there is no weakness there compared to other drivers.

32

I wouldn’t count those. Starting dirty side in Bahrain is notoriously bad. Lewis lost out in 2017, as Kimi did this year.

Losing one spot at a start, especially starting dirty side, does not mean you’ve had a bad start. I’m talking about those bog-down starts, like JPN16, ITA16 or ITA14 for Lewis, where he lost a handful of positions off the start. Silverstone this year has been his worst, but that’s the only real bad one I can think of.

33

2017 Bahrain?
2017 Spain?
2017 Hungary?

34

Japan – Seb still had a chance to get a decent qualifying position, it was not as suggested due to the team sending both him and Kimi out on the wrong tyres at the start of Q3. Kimi still managed to do ok, even with a small error. Given Seb’s utter dominance of Kimi in qualifying, he should have been a place ahead of Kimi on the grid.

It was Seb’s error that meant he qualified in 9th. I feel that’s an important omission from the article.

Seb just simply hasn’t been good enough this season. And since the Leclerc announcement he seems to have got even more desperate. I so very much hope that Charles is allowed to race freely next year, there could be some fantastic fireworks to watch.

Plus, it seems Honda are finally starting to get it together. With two very talented and very hungry drivers in the RB, next year has the potential to be a very interesting season.

35

Yeah, James loves to give Sebastian a pass every now and then. The same can’t be said about lewis though. Was more than happy pointing out every bad start in 2016, while more or less ignoring the glaring discrepancy in reliability.

36

@Oblah, HA! I’ve noticed. But, to be fair to James, can you imagine the entitled and self righteous Australian meltdown if he showed even just the slightest positivity towards Lewis?

😀

37

@The Exigency IKR 😀
Cheers.

38

I remember hearing a respected Williams engineer say that for several seasons they gave Nigel Mansell a car capable of winning the WDC, and “1992 was the only year he didn’t piss it away”.
It could be that with Ferrari and Vettel, history is repeating itself.

39

Williams didn’t like Mansel. He was a very unsavory individual.

40

Oblah
Mansell was great but tempremental like Senna Lauda Hunt . They all had big nuggets and were, of that era where if you deserved a hit you got it. They had more off track ‘clear the air moments’ than will ever be allowed now by FIA conduct rules.
So if the team were messing up back in the day, they flew into rages and made sure everyone knew they were not pleased.
Mansell fought his way up in racing.
Re- Morgaged the house and his wife was the soul wage earner at times. If you come from that fighting spirit it doesn’t matter how your mood swings, on the swing’o’meter…
So long as you got the job done it was groovy.
The Midland Man deserves some recognition. As for Williams everything was done on a shoe string until the victories started to come. Mansell had a hand in that success.

41

With their polished looks I wonder if some of the current drivers even have any nuggets.

42

@BK Flamer. You’re right. I’ve read about his ‘dual’ personality. The driver and the family man. It’s to be commended, sorry for being overly rash in my response.

43

I can honestly see after Lewis wins the next two WDC to take him equal with Schumacher, he’ll join Ferrari and become the most successful driver in F1 history by winning Ferrari their first title since 2007.

44

Please, please, please let that prediction not come true. Lewis driving for ferrari would tarnish his career. I pray he has the sense to leave well alone.

45

Well, even young Max Verstappen said that driving for Ferrari is for the end of your career, not the beginning. So you never know…

46
Richard Mortimer

It’s not really the question of one point where things started to unravel. It’s lots of small things adding up…. I think the emphasis on Seb losing the title is wrong (if that is in fact what happens), I think Lewis won it by beating Seb. (which is as it should be).

In truth, I don’t think Seb quite matches up to Lewis. Think Fernando would have won the title in the Ferrari, maybe last year as well?

However, Germany was a small and very costly mistake, effectively 32 points. Maybe a little panic and/or desperation set in then?

47

I think that should be pretty obvious at this point. A lot of things that happened from 2010 to 2014 should be reassessed with the information we now have.

Far too many people were quick to claim Vettel should be hailed as one of the greatest drivers in the sport due to his 2010-2013 period – people who seem to forget, weirdly, that in F1 performance does not depend on the driver alone.

In 2010 Vettel was behind Webber for most of the season, and that only changed when Red Bull ditched their “fair racing” approach (remember how they loved to mock Ferrari for always having a very strict 1-2 hierarchy?) and decided to clearly favor Vettel over the guy who was actually ahead on the championship (to the point of using him as a Ferrari bait in the last race – which Ferrari bit, by the way).

Then we had 2012, a year on which Vettel almost lost the WDC against a driver who had a very significant deficit in machinery. But he won, so some people forgot that “detail”. By 2013 he became a 4-times WDC and those who only look at results were saying a lot of nice stuff.

Then he had a season on which he was clearly beaten by a team mate. “Oh, that’s because he was already thinking of Ferrari”, some said. There were even some conspiracy theories about him driving worse on purpose in order to use his escape clause.

Then he moved to Ferrari and wasn’t doing anything impressive (yeah, I know Mercedes had a big advantage at first, but the true greats in the sport really could do something against superior machinery – think of Prost winning against the 87 Williams, Senna’s performances in 91-93 and his poles in 94, or even, more recently, Alonso almost winning the WDC in 2012 as already mentioned).

Then he finally had a car that was at least as good as the opposition – and he’s now about to lose a WDC again in a car that was actually better more often than not.

I wonder if the people at Ferrari sometimes wonder what would have happened if they kept Alonso.

48
Richard Mortimer

Lucas

Yes, nuf said! I was disappointed with the result in 2010 and 2012. Think it should have been Webber in 10 and Alonso in 12.

Pity the 2014 Ferrari was such a dog, as Fernando might have stayed and won more WCs!

Actually, 2010 was very, very close. Could easily have been Lewis, Fernando or Mark W instead of Seb. Lewis’ car broke on the last lap in Spain, when heading for second. That would have won him the WC!

49

A couple of key moments, but in my mind Germany was the most important and the only mistake that was all Vettel. Baku and France were both driver errors, but in the heat of battle, so perhaps part of the game.
Vet hasn’t been supported by his team mate and there have been some strategy calls that have gone against Ferrari as well -in some instances because they were trying to counter the Merc strategy.
Contrast that with Ham making very few mistakes, with Bottas playing a much better rear gunner than Kimi, and Merc not having to take risks on strategy.

Overall though, the Merc remains the best all terrain car, allowing the team the luxury of conservatism on strategy-particularly since the summer break.

50

The only mistake Ferrari/Vettel have made, is in not developing/refining their car as much as the Merc squad. Both of these teams have one thing in common that no other car on track have and that item is extremely adaptable. For instance, it could be used to make motorcycles the fastest thing on the planet but enough about MotoGP.

Unfortunately for Vettel/Ferrari I believe it’s use in Germany put their star driver in the barrier, mainly through lack of refinement. A simple on off switch for use in damp conditions may have negated, any such thing ever happening. As it was, or may have been, his outside rear wheel spun up and his inside wheel stuffed him off track. Not Vettel’s fault, a raw upgrade or maybe a lack of refinement but by who Vettel or Ferrari? As Sebee maintains Spa was a let them win Lewis as you’ll still be well ahead of all other cars in the race. Just go out there and test the latest update. Points wise you’ll still be in his vicinity and we’ll trounce them in the next three races, if all goes well! They did and then Bottas was upgraded too. Ferrari failed to reconnoitre, or even consider the possibility of making their magic front axle work adjustabley in the very same way as the automated acceleration system does. Ideally from an enhancement such as that their next step would have been to harmonise both axles electronically for greatly improved cornering. Alas no one did and instead everyone and his dog is now attacking Vettel.

It’s already being stated that Seb has had a too easy ride at Red Bull, too easy by far most are saying which has rendered him not up to the task of development. My take on that is that Vettel knows precisely where his car is lacking but he and his team are altogether damned if they know how Merc are doing it, as they themselves (Ferrari) have all the goodies but simply haven’t melded them all into a singular upgrade, which in itself in F1, is a rather unusual occurrence.

51

Are you suggesting the sf71h doesn’t have a rain mode? Really? Every car up and down the grid has different engine modes for different conditions.

I’m all for backing one’s driver of choice, but how on earth can you blame ferrari for vettel’s inability to drive in the wet. Especially considering kimi managed fine while defending against bottas in the very same conditions.

Every time it rains, vettel miraculously finds himself behind kimi, with the exception of spa. Even then, kimi had the pace to grab pole but bottled it, as per usual. Having an engine advantage over kimi isn’t enough, he needs traction control too? Lol.

52

Interesting variance

Seb: Front right tyre on merc side pod. Result: Seb spins, faces wrong way (Monza)

Seb: Front right tyre on RB side pod. Result: Seb spins, faces wrong way (Suzuka)

Kimi: Front left tyre on merc side pod. Result: Lewis spins, faces wrong way (silverstone)

Kimi, before you leave, please show Seb how to keep it pointing the right way.

53

Phil Glass, maybe it’s a weight distribution thing, they can work on that for next season…..

54

Already a bit of a stale debate! Most of us are now waiting to see what the Aussy GP will deliver. Leclerc vs Ham in my crystal ball – and a year when Leclerc in red with nothing to lose will get better as the year progresses. I wonder where Vettel could go after Ferrari drop him?

55

Editor
This weekend debate should it just say debate?
As it never refreshed from 7 posts until very late.
Then it’s just sat still. Debate really hasn’t started in real time updates.
Fair enough it’s the weekend and staff need to chill too. But a debate needs posts to read and not 7 posts for a very long period.

56

And worth posting an article with the title: “Weekend debate: Where did the debate on this forum unravel?”…

The slow turnaround time on this forum has become deplorable and it slowly but surely will suffocate to death if left to continue like this as last 4-6 months have been. Just having 1h man day time assigned per day with an active moderator would make a huge difference compared to now. But that is obviously even more than what current owners are willing to spend on it.

57

100% agree Cyber
Just crazy slow.
The previous owner is awfully quiet about this 🙈🙉🙊 I can remember when it was stated you’d see very little change in output and in fact it will be an improvement.
Bit the the rejigged National Train Timetable over the Summer in the GB …. totally pointless🤔

58

Lucia, I wouldn’t count seb out just yet, but Charlie is a special talent. Can’t wait to see what happens!

59

He would have to DQ Lewis and give him a race ban! Even that might not be enough given the propensity of the red team to self destruct.

60

Sauber ?
When Kimi retires.
Sauber will be “The ease the old drivers into retirement stepping stone” team.
One side of the garage it will be Carpet Slippers a Sherlocks Smoking Pipe and a big bag of Wurthers Originals.
One the other side it will be a young driver readying himself for Ferrari seat.

61

I have some concern that Vettel knows he has screwed it up and the arithmetic is heavily against him so he’ll become even more aggressive as he has, in his mind, nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Let’s hope he doesn’t terminally damage his reputation by taking Hamilton out or banging wheels as in Baku.

62

The thing is Vettel has actually been muted ever since his Baku temper flair. Ferrari and Vettel were hyper-aggressive at that time, bad-tempered, rude, disrespectful, but it backfired when Vettel got penalized (should have been race banned). Hamilton’s verbal warning to Vettel not to disrespect him again at the time was no joke and Vettel backed down like a sullen, admonished bully. It’s why I’ve derived real pleasure from Ferrari’s failed attempts to win in 2017 and 2018 – it’s the sight of deflated strutting and over-confidence, poor team work, mismanagement, and a driver exposed as less talented and basically unworthy of four titles. Vettel has no response left. The aggression is counterproductive, he just drives himself off the road, and he lacks the range of skills needed to make up for his team’s mistakes and drop in performance. And next year he’ll be outdriven by Leclerc. If you want to trace Ferrari’s demise, it’s back to that ridiculous shove into Hamilton’s car at Baku.

63

“I’ve derived real pleasure from Ferrari’s failed attempts to win in 2017 and 2018” – very sporting old boy – sounding just like the low-brow thugs on the football terraces….

64

Nope. He is 100% correct. It makes me smile to see ferrari fail. They are arrogant beyond belief. Their fans are disgraceful… the nonsense that goes on at Monza happens nowhere else in the world to anywhere near the same degree. That is unsporting dear boy. For me they are oh so easy to dislike.

65

Exactly the opposite. Ferrari and Vettel behaved as thugs. It’s precisely because I detest that kind of attitude that I’ve enjoyed seeing them fail.

66

In Australia a comment like that would be classified as Tall Poppy Syndrome. Enjoying the failure of others. Its generally a trait of those with low emotional intelligence/maturity.

67

I can see him attempting it.
When he was at Red Bull and Lewis was at McLaren. Lewis overtook him on track even when Vettel tried to squeeze him off the track at a high-speed section.
Same happened in Russia this year.
Last year at Mexico he did the side swipe.
Vettel is prone to hitting out when people pass him. Expect the same.

68
Clarks4WheelDrift

Where did Seb’s Championship unravel?

Ultimately, at Brixworth and Brackley.

Moreso than Seb making mistakes, the Ferrari team not making quick actioned Bottas like calls for Kimi, the Ferrari strategy blunders or Max sorry I hit you or sorry I caused a safety car when you were leading.

Developing a superior car means easy clean air laps, more poles, more front row lockouts, wingman taking points away, less likely to have a wheel to wheel incident when you have no need to go wheel to wheel, a better car for variable conditions, and easier for team to ‘manage’ the ‘race’.

If he can’t compete with Bottas in the Merc right now then he has no chance against Ham. Kimi doesn’t even see a Merc in his race.

69

Umm, that might explain the last three races, but how about before that? Hamilton only just passed Seb, in the last race, in term of laps led this year.

ESPN analyzed where Seb would be now without his catalog of mistakes this year, and it turns out he’d still be leading by 47 pts. Knowing that it’s ridiculous to suggest anything other than his mistakes as the primary reason for his failure this season.

70

BBC website did the same thing and have Vettel 13 points ahead at this stage.

So he probably would lose out in the end still with Mercedes’ new lease of life.

71

The BBC one corrected for team mistakes as well, and not just driver error. Australia for example, is a 14 pts gain for Hamilton in that analysis.

Benson did do another analysis after Singapore, and there he put Vettel’s corrected lead at 30-odd points.

https://www.bbc.com/sport/formula-one/45640915

72

Yes, that was the suggestion, but imagine if the gap were still 20 points of less, which is what they calculated it would be now. We’d be talking about one a potentially great climax to the season. It is unfortunate that Ferrari have unravelled and Merc have stepped it up a gear to such an extent.

73

The BBC analysis is weird because it counts Australia in Vettel’s credit.

ESPN counts Singapore as a lost Vettel win, which I think is too harsh.

Both ignore China where he was taken out by Verstappen.

My own count is at 84 points (including giving him credit back for China), meaning Vettel would still be 17 points clear. However, I think it’s clear Ferrari have thrown in the towel (either intentionally or subconsciously), I doubt they’d be doing so if Vettel was still leading.

I think it’ll be close enough that you can make an argument that Hamilton would have won anyway like last year. What’s indisputable is that Vettel’s errors cost him any hint of a chance.

74

@KRB, let’s not waste our time. C4WD, will say anything to diminish lewis’ accomplishments or divert blame from Vettel.

75

Yep…back to the steam room boys!

76

I take it you’re providing the steam?
😤

77

@Oblah

It’s called Pain Management.

78

@Fanf1
LOL 😀 😀 😀 Great comment. Damn near fell out of my chair laughing.

79

Bang on Clarkes!

80

And also there was rain:)

81

Geezus, it wasn’t that long ago that I was checking rain forecasts daily, leading up to a GP. That was because I knew the Ferrari was quicker, but that rain could help Hamilton’s chances.

I haven’t really been checking those forecasts for these last three races.

82

@KRB, check the weather for COTA. Raining all week… 🙁 Hammertime!

83

The easy answer is as always. Toto turns the factory upside down, just in time for summer break

The hard one is that the dream of a Alfa Romeo revival better be more than just a dream for the FCA WDC daydreamers

84

Wow how could have gone so differently Ferrari/Vettel could be 20 odd points in front if not for the mistakes they have make.

85

With Hamilton on 3 win streak from Singapore, clear car/operational advantage and massive favourites for all reamining races? The end story is there was never a chance against Mercedes, even if some of us had hoped earlier in the season. Barcelona test showed what will be the order for the year.

86

That’s just garbage. There are so many people on here who can change their retrospective read on a dime!

It’s as though while they were sleeping you could transport them to the bottom of a well, and within 5 minutes of waking up they would have convinced themselves that they had always wanted to see the bottom of a well, and had been planning this trip for months prior.

Hamilton would’ve won this year, driving either the Merc or Ferrari. That’s the uncomfortable truth that many out there know, but are finding it hard to digest.

87

The Ferrari rot started at Monza. Front row lock out and just out driven by Lewis. Singapore qualifying. LH got Ferrari with a knock out blow and a huge nail in their coffin. And overtaking Seb at Sochi was another arrow to the Ferrari heart.

It is clearly that Mercedes have developed enormously since the summer and now got all tyres to work very well in all conditions. Ferrari may have had a couple of questionable features that they have been told to drop – or they haven’t cut the mustard in the development race..

88

Vettel’s season has unravelled, in my view, because he never really lost any championships that he should have won up until 2018, so he never had the pain of and regret of losing to shape his driving decisions. Yes 2009 & 2017 he was competitive, but he still the clear underdog. It should be crystal clear that you must drive differently, with the much larger picture in mind, if you want to maintain a championship challenge instead of just trying to win the race. You have to pick and choose your battles very carefully, blend aggression but mostly be patient. I think there is still a good chance that next year he will deliver a far more consistent and error-free challenge, having learnt from this campaign. It’s also why I think Verstappen, even if the Red Bull is competitive next year, would fall short of winning the championship. Yes he can win races, but it is only through experience that he will learn how to drive to maximize his whole season.

89

You have to pick and choose your battles very carefully, blend aggression but mostly be patient

Two things that Lewis has done in an exemplary form this year!

90

“You have to pick and choose your battles very carefully, blend aggression but mostly be patient”……… and wait for your teammate to let you through

91

You’re right, and doing this drives (no pun intended) your fellow drivers nuts

Take a bow Alain Porst hehe – the master at this

92

i m not a huge Hamilton fan…until he sits in a red car, most likely…However, one must accept that Hamilton has raised his game and approach following the titles fights with Rosberg.

To me, he is driving as well as he ever has and reminds of a combination between Schumacher, Senna and Prost. he has been ruthless in punishing mistakes by Vettel, blindingly quick in quali and in the race, and calculating as well, taking the best possible finish available when he has not been able to win.

i think the big difference is whereas Vettel has won his titles from the front, Hamilton has had to fight quite hard for at least 2 of his, and has lost 1 in the last few races as well to Rosberg. He knows what it takes to fight for a title; now and how important minimizing mistakes and being consistent is.

Vettel has unfortunately cracked at the exact time he needed a cool head on him, not helped by Ferrari strategy going south and also not using Raikkonen in the way Merc have used Bottas…case in point, Monza.

The Ferraris fight each other and Vettel gets bounced by Hamilton…witness the seemingly staged getaway of the Mercs at Sochi, where Bottas and Hamilton left Vettel and Raikkonen nowere to go…that should have happened in Monza…since then we have seen increasing desperation from the team in terms of strategy as well as Vettel in terms of mistakes under pressure…Japan was so unneccesary, more so to attempt that move on Verstappen at Spoon – it may have worked against everyone else, but we now Mad Max won’t give an inch and passing moves need to be decisive and quick and not hopeful punts determined by the co-operation of one Max Verstappen…again, Hamilton has shown a better ability to make clean moves as compared to Vettel.

The championship was on for Ferrari – they can but blame themselves for dropping the ball.

93

I agree with your points except the one where Vettel learns from his mistakes…. it’s possible he will but I think unlikely otherwise he would have learnt from his mistakes last year. Last year was a different year as Merc had more of an edge but it was still close up to Singapore until some Vettel mistakes crept in… I think next year, with the pressure of Leclerc, he may actually make more mistakes

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