Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Singapore, 2019

Vettel says win proves slump wasn’t as bad as critics claimed

2019 Singapore Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel says his Singapore Grand Prix victory proved his recent slump in form has been exaggerated by his critics.

The Ferrari driver arrived in Singapore having not won a race for more than 12 months. He had also made a series of high-profile errors, notably in the last race at Monza, where he spun and collided with another driver.

“I don’t think there was anything wrong,” said Vettel when asked about ending his win-less spell. “It wasn’t like we were lacking speed or anything.”

“Recently, I think there was nothing wrong in general. Things weren’t maybe falling in place. Obviously I messed up in the race in Monza, that’s my mistake, otherwise I think I, it’s a long race and a lot of things could happen.

“Overall it’s part of the game. I’ve been around now for a long, long time and it’s just how the tide turns sometimes. I have the highest expectation on myself and I’m not happy when I’m not delivering what I know I can.

“Certainly I had moments this year when I was struggling to just get it out. I know that I can improve from there, so I can’t be happy with that.

“But equally I know that it wasn’t as bad or disastrous as maybe then people put it together. If you’ve been around for such a long time and you’ve had so many good moments then obviously you get hammered when there are bad moments. I think that’s just part of the game.”

However he admitted the relief of scoring his first win since last year’s Belgian Grand Prix would “maybe kick in a bit later”.

“I didn’t feel that any big changes are necessary,” he added. “In that regarding it’s a confirmation. But it’s not like finally I can breathe again. It’s not like I felt in a wrong and bad place. I knew that I have to pull through and go through it myself.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 40 comments on “Vettel says win proves slump wasn’t as bad as critics claimed”

    1. The headline might be misleading – or am I missing something? He didn’t actually say that. And he is more self critical than the headline seems to indicate. Just my 2 cents.

      1. @magon4 Vettel said his form hadn’t been “as bad or disastrous” as his critics had made out. Nothing misleading at all.

        1. I agree that he said this, @keithcollantine and I mean no disrespect – I have been a great fan of your work for many, many years now.
          But he didn’t link the fact that he had won as any kind of proof to his point that things weren’t that bad.
          In other words: the win didn’t prove the fact, at least that is not what he seems to be saying…

    2. “I don’t think there was anything wrong,” said Vettel when asked about ending his win-less spell. “It wasn’t like we were lacking speed or anything.”

      “Recently, I think there was nothing wrong in general. Things weren’t maybe falling in place. Obviously I messed up in the race in Monza, that’s my mistake, otherwise I think I, it’s a long race and a lot of things could happen.

      Vettel is definitely living in a bit of a bubble. He was outscored by Kimi in the second half of last season, and he’s been properly outdone by his teammate for like 8 race weekends in a row. He’s thrown away race wins and spun his car on multiple occasions. He didn’t really earn this win either, and just got lucky.

      He’s an overpaid 4 time WDC…. I think he needs to understand that he isn’t allowed to go through more than a season without a win and think things are OK

      1. I was thinking similar,
        His lack of wins has been more often due to bad driving then bad luck.
        Definitely pays to have a short memory in this world.

        1. That’s well said @aaaa; @todfod, though Vettel was lucky (gifted?) to get the position, he then did everything right to keep it, so I do think he deserved the win yesterday. But, for a large part I do agree with you.

      2. You seem to forget the mistakes Ferrari have been making… + Vettel is not coping with his mistakes “only”, he’s coping with many things. Mostly things inside of the Ferrari team. I hope you do realise that the management of Ferrari isn’t OK either…

        1. You don’t see Leclerc using that excuse…

          It’s amazing how there are always ready made excuses for Vettel’s poor performances. There were a ridiculous amount of them in 2014 as well.

    3. “I was gifted a win by my team, so everything is great!”.

      Riiiiiight.

    4. I know @todfod isn’t one of Vettel or Ferrari’s biggest fans, but I can’t agree with his assessment of Vettel lucking into the victory. Luck had an element yes, in that Ferrari reacted to the Red Bull mechanics heading out to service Verstappen by bringing in Vettel to prevent the undercut. But Vettel’s pace on the outlap was superb, a slower pitstop and he was still able to overturn a 3 second disadvantage. And he was surprisingly more proficient than Leclerc in clearing the slower cars too. Then he nailed the restarts and controlled the pace out front and whenever Leclerc got a sniff of DRS he would scamper away. I thought it was one of his better drives this year, with maybe Monaco and Austria also up there.
      Leclerc lost it due to his own first stint pace. Yes it was part of the strategy but he should have pushed in the laps leading to his pitstop. In laps are so important, you really can’t be setting a 1:49 and hope that it won’t affect track position.
      That said, aside from his initial tirade during the race (I mean, it’s understandable, nobody likes being undercut by a teammate) he has been handling this in a decently mature fashion. Not rolling over and letting the team have its way completely shows his hunger, not badmouthing them post race — sensationalised headlines notwithstanding (looking at you too, Keith) — shows his maturity and commitment to the team, even if he didn’t yet fully understand why and how that actually happened.

      1. @wsrgo
        Regardless of me being a fan or not.. You can’t deny that Vettel was given the opportunity to pit first, which is usually reserved for the leading driver. Additionally, you mentioned that Leclerc’s in lap or first stint pace wasn’t wasn’t good enough… Well….it would have been if his team had informed him that Vettel had already pitted and would come out in front unless he pushed hard. Heck, Leclerc was focusing all his efforts on Hamilton, thinking his team was looking at home retaining P1. If he knew the tactics deployed by his own team, he would have ensured he emerged from the pits in the lead.

        So yes, I think a strategic call taking a driver from P3 to P1 is a bit lucky.

        1. @todfod A bit lucky? Definitely. But his sheer quality in out lap, clearing traffic and controlling from the front make the case for a deserved win. Also, Ferrari had asked Leclerc to push, which he promptly did, but just for one lap and then slowed, either because his softs were gone (poor tyre management) or because the team told him to slow down again, which doesn’t seem to be the case from the transcripts. As Hamilton said, the natural progression of a conservative first stint was to push at the end, which Leclerc didn’t do. Granted, the lead driver gets the call but Ferrari had to cover Verstappen. If it had been Hamilton pitting on that lap instead of Verstappen, Ferrari would have called in Leclerc. I don’t think they thought Vettel would gain 3 plus seconds in the out lap, especially after Leclerc had been instructed to push.

          1. @wsrgo, with regards to your comment about “either because his softs were gone (poor tyre management)”, it is worth noting that the radio calls from the pit lane to Leclerc prior to his pit stop show that he had been running to the pace that he’d been instructed to do so by the pit wall.

            Leclerc had been running the exact strategy that the pit wall had been instructing him to, and most of the other drivers who also ran similar length stints as Leclerc on the soft tyres at the start of the race experienced the same thing – that, in staying out so long, when they tried to push the tyres towards the end of the stint, they didn’t have anything left to do so.

            It wasn’t just poor tyre management on Leclerc’s behalf, because most of the field was reporting the same thing – you had figures like Norris and Grosjean suddenly going around 2.5-3.0s a lap faster as soon as they pitted, and in some cases gaining even more than that (Kubica and Perez were going about 3.5s a lap faster after their pit stops).

            When you look down the field, though, nobody seemed to be able to ramp up their pace significantly before their first pit stops either, be it those at the head of the field, those in the midfield or those at the back, and those midfield drivers who’d made earlier pit stops were suddenly going several seconds a lap faster after they pitted.

            You start that it might have seemed unlikely, but the evidence from the midfield drivers who had stopped earlier showed that it was possible to gain as much as 3.5s a lap from pitting, and quite a few of those drivers had started on a more durable tyre to begin with (the medium tyres). It’s not to say that it was guaranteed, but it should have shown that, even with Leclerc pushing on his in lap, there was a possibility that Vettel could end up undercutting Leclerc.

            Either we have to conclude that every single driver in the entire field was useless at tyre management, as nobody else seemed to be able to significantly improve their pace before their first pit stops and were suddenly several seconds a lap faster after their pit stops, or, and this seems more plausible to me, the teams overestimated how durable the soft tyres would be and underestimated how fast the hard tyres would be, meaning most teams underestimated how powerful the undercut would be.

            It’s not to say that what Vettel did wasn’t good, as he still had to put in that quick outlap to begin with, but it is to say that I don’t think it was as exceptional as you are suggesting it was when the pattern from all of the other drivers who’d stopped earlier showed a similar gain in performance on their outlaps, even from those who’d started on the ostensibly more durable medium tyres.

          2. @wsrgo

            it is worth noting that the radio calls from the pit lane to Leclerc prior to his pit stop show that he had been running to the pace that he’d been instructed to do so by the pit wall.

            That’s the problem. The team didn’t ask him to push harder. I believe there’s already an article on that published on racefans.

            If the team really wanted Leclerc to come out of the puts in P1, they would have ensured it happened. You might talk about his stellar outlap, but at the end of the day he won this race because of Ferraris strategy, or else.. It would have been a P3 or P2 finish.

            1. @anon @todfod I can’t find any evidence that Ferrari were explicitly happy with Leclerc’s lap time, or that Leclerc was doing exactly what Ferrari asked him to do. I remember (and as other sources mentioned, autosport and crash among others) that Ferrari asked Leclerc to push roughly 3 laps before CL actually pitted. He increased the lead to about 2 seconds before it got slashed back to 0.8.

            2. @todfod Ferrari explicitly told him to push starting on lap 14-15, but not in response to Vettel as that wasn’t until lap 18 in response to Verstappen. They didn’t broadcast the radio message, but Anthony Davis was monitoring and reported it. He confirmed a lap later, again relayed through Davis. Specifically, he was asked to build a gap to Hamilton. He started to do so for about two laps, it maxed out at about 1.9 seconds on lap 16, but then it disappeared by .5 seconds per lap until Leclerc pitted on lap 20. Verstappen’s engineers started pulling tires on lap 18 after Max complained of no grip, Vettel was told to box at turn 20 of lap 18 to cover it off, and they both came in together with Vettel in front. If Leclerc had been able to at least maintain the 2ish second gap to Hamilton, Vettel would have slotted in between him and Hamilton.

              Go look for yourself. The middle chart, delete everyone but Leclerc, Hamilton, and Vettel. The last chart, you can see the lap times. Leclerc did a 1.49.6 on his in lap, while Vettel only one lap prior did a 1.48.3 on his.

              https://www.racefans.net/2019/09/22/2019-singapore-grand-prix-interactive-data-lap-charts-times-and-tyres/

              Leclerc either slowed down on purpose (why the heck would he?), or the tires went off the cliff. I think it was just a bit too late in the stint and he didn’t have enough grip left to pull it off, while Hamilton still had pace in hand to close up. You could see Leclerc struggling. The only things that kept Hamilton behind is the inherent difficulty of passing on this track and the straight line speed that prevented Hamilton from lining up a pass at the end of the straights. After Leclerc pitted, Hamilton started going two seconds a lap faster. He ran out of tires after a push in preparation for his own pitstop.

            3. @lunaslide +1. Good explanation.

        2. Actually, from listening to the radio, LeClerc asked if he can push at lap 16, which the team answer yes, push. 4 laps later, Vettel pit and he just did a blazing outlap, and after that, LeClerc was even given more than Vettel as far as power, and he couldn’t catch up. The last 10 laps was even more telling, as LeClerc was told to only use K1 plus for defending but he was using it to try to attack Vettel. I think the team gave everything the can for LeClerc but Vettel pace on the hard tire was just better.

      2. In monaco he did nothing, despite the mistake I’m gonna call canada better, including as far as I know his only pole in 2019.

      3. And also you must mean germany, not austria, don’t even remember vettel in austria aside from being one of the many victims of verstappen’s overtakes.

    5. Actually, the problem for VET are not necessarily his mistakes (which ofcourse make it way worse) but his lack of speed, especially in qually. When a new teammate, who is not very experienced in F1 or familiar with the team, comes in and outqualifies you in the last 8 races it’s a sign of not being good enough.

    6. Well critics say Vettel is unable to fight wheel to wheel without crashing every second race.

      There are no critics who say Vettel is unable to lead a race from the front, or deliver blindingly fast laps for brief period of time.

      So critics still have a bone to pick and Vettel has things left to prove. Except for a few blindingly quick laps, the race was way off pace, none of the front runners was ever threatened by overtakes. It is hard to judge his form from this. Overall luck had a play in this and a win is a win. He won’t gain much confidence from this.

      1. Vettel has to prove jack squad! He does what he wants! You seem to claim yourself as mr perfect…

    7. Oh yeah, still is pretty bad. He needs to perform in all remaining races the way he did yesterday in order to give a significant positive note to his image in the eyes of the public.

    8. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves Sebastian. You got thoroughly out qualified by your teammate and Hamilton on a track you’ve previously been something of a specialist at.

      And the win was gifted by strategy to get you ahead of them both in part because Leclerc was holding Hamilton up, then given the nature of the track there wasn’t much cause to worry about being overtaken.

      The last win I can think of that was this underserved was Hamilton in Russia last year, and he wasn’t exactly bragging about it.

      1. @philipgb you can’t seriously compare yesterday’s race with “Valtteri, it’s James” with a straight face…

        1. Multi-21 Seb. Multi-21.

        2. Obviously not like for like, Russia made sense for the team given there was a driver’s championship battle going on

          Yesterday they gave Vettel the preferable strategy and didn’t advise Leclerc to pick up his pace because it gave them a 1-2 and demoted Hamilton to 4th which made sense for the constructors battles

          So both teams sold out the deserving winner for a preferable result

          1. No, russia didn’t make sense to anyone with a sense of maths given the points they had and the performance situation back then, and yes, this was a much more deserved win in comparison, I say this as a vettel critic who continues to say he needs to prove more when he’s in fights wheel to wheel.

    9. Let’s look on the positives:
      masterly at every re-start
      speedy enough on his inlap so able to gain track position
      did well enough passing back markers

      Flip side of the coin:
      he was offered a safe undercut by the team [not for the first time], he grabbed it

      Is this a swan song in the sinking sunset of his career at Ferrari?
      Most probably.
      Lec will likely continue to pip him on Saturdays, and if Ferrari again decide to gift Seb a win via strategy Nicholas Todt will wear down Binotto with complaints

      1. Yes, this is also a possibility, I was watching the race with my brother and grandmother at her house and I said, look at vettel going up the car (when he won), could be the last time ever!

    10. What are you all talking about? Vettel hasn’t got to prove anything to anyone! Nobody’s perfect and everyone has bad days at work. Y’all wanna be mr perfects? Well be my guest and do it better then him. Bet y’all won’t last 1 second in that car. Not to mention, y’all won’t even fit in the car…

      1. Not sure is this sort of comment , especially the unnecessary insults, necessary.

        It’s a useful forum to read what people think even if you don’t agree with them. Most who had given their opinion substantiated it with evidence and inference. Suggest you do the same (without the insults) if you want to be taken seriously.

      2. Nobody’s perfect and everyone has bad days at work.

        Nobody has a year and a half of bad days and stills hold on to their job

    11. Well, the slump was bad enough that he only started on the front row once while Leclerc started on pole for 3 straight races.

      But he was genuinely happy after the race like he hasn’t been in a long time, so that’s enough for me. It was something that needed to happen.

    12. Let’s be real this win wasn’t a 100% per cent earned. He was not even driver of the race let alone the weekend.

      Great out-lap, clearing of slower cars and restarts. Great secondary skills to have. I still prefer the guy who planted it on pole and stayed first in lights out.

    13. Lots of people are angry at Ferrari for taking the win away from Charles, however (and it may be unintentional) I think it was smart on their part. Charles is still going to be hungry for the win and confident in the next race (maybe even more than before) but this win may give Seb the confidence boost he needed to get out of his slump. Did he earn it by passing someone on the track? No, but a win is still a win and he drove a very good, error-free race.

      Now Ferrari have two drivers that have stood on the top step of the podium this year, and if they’re ever going to truly take the title fight to Mercedes (or defend against Red Bull) then they’ll need both cars & both drivers performing well to do so. If this helps Seb to settle in and stop overdriving the car, then this is all worth it.

      1. This also makes sense, vettel needed a win, remember canada this year too, he was first at the chequered flag with an acceptable move on hamilton.

    14. Lol! Total luck! He certainly didn’t deserve or earn the “win.”

    15. For this incident – is it possible to tell if the lack of information to leclerc was deliberate , or accidental?

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