Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2019

2019 F1 driver rankings #10: Sebastian Vettel

2019 F1 season review

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The persistent innuendo during 2019 around Sebastian Vettel’s future – a potential departure from Ferrari, return to Red Bull, or exit from F1 entirely – reflected how disappointing his season was.

In raw performance terms the season was not a disaster. But in terms of his standing within the sport and his team as a four-times champion up against a potential star of the future, 2019 may have done terminal damage to Vettel’s prospects of challenging for another world championship. He was badly shown up by Charles Leclerc first in qualifying and then in races as well. This had an obvious effect on his driving, which featured too many costly mistakes.

Vettel had a better handle on the SF-90 at the beginning of the season and dominated Leclerc in the qualifying scoreline over the first half-dozen races. But as Mercedes started the season strongly, Vettel failed to convert any of these opportunities into wins.

Bahrain could have been one, but Leclerc was far quicker, and Vettel spun off while battling Lewis Hamilton. In Canada he went off under pressure from the Mercedes driver. This earned Vettel a penalty which Ferrari loudly condemned and vainly protested, despite its obvious similarity to a call which went in their favour at Suzuka the previous year which Vettel supported at the time.

Sebastian Vettel

Beat team mate in qualifying 9/20
Beat team mate in race 10/17
Races finished 18/21
Laps spent ahead of team mate 507/1078
Qualifying margin +0.07
Points 240

He failed to out-qualify Leclerc in all of the next nine races, though car problems were to blame in Austria and Germany. But while Vettel’s one-lap touch temporarily eluded him, he was still capable of turning in excellent drives on Sunday.At a damp Hockenheimring he exorcised the demons of 2018 by racing from last to second, and in Hungary passed Leclerc for the final podium spot as Ferrari struggled.

But these drivers were interspersed with some serious lows. At Silverstone he clumsily ran into Max Verstappen. Worse came at Monza, where he spun off while under no pressure, then pulled onto the track as Lance Stroll arrived, causing a collision.

That blundering performance in Italy came as Leclerc turned up the heat even higher. Having already taken a breakthrough win in Belgium, Leclerc failed to give Vettel a tow in the final Q3 runs at Monza as arranged, and motored to a second win from pole position. Vettel won next time out in Singapore, but his only victory of the year was a hollow triumph, inherited from his pole-winning team mate thanks to a Ferrari strategy which looked like payback for Monza.

Relations between the pair remained rocky until the end of the year. Under a pre-race arrangement at Sochi, Vettel was required to let Leclerc pass him for the lead, but repeatedly ignored the team’s orders. A power unit failure ended his race.

[icon2019autocoursempu]The worst came in Brazil. For Vettel, the race swung frustratingly against him: He was on the fringes of the Verstappen-Hamilton fight for the lead when a Safety Car period brought his delayed team mate onto his tail. Leclerc, enjoying the benefit of fresh rubber, dived past Vettel from range at turn one. Vettel came back at him out of turn three, but needlessly squeezed his team mate as he came past, triggering a collision which looked like an action replay of Istanbul 2010.

Vettel’s season was not without fine performances and he was clearly capable of dishing out a beating to his junior team mate at times. He planted his Ferrari on pole position at Suzuka, which would have teed him up for a crack at victory had he not spoiled his start by moving too soon. A strong second to Hamilton in Mexico, which cold easily have been a win had Ferrari’s strategy been sharper, gave further indication that Vettel had mastered the SF-90 by the end of the year.

But the vexing question for Vettel remains just how can he cut out the costly errors which have come to define his past few seasons at Ferrari?

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What’s your verdict on Sebastian Vettel’s 2019 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than? Have your say in the comments.

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Author information

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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80 comments on “2019 F1 driver rankings #10: Sebastian Vettel”

  1. This must hurt at so many levels.
    One being outranked by Kimi.

    1. Outranked by Bottas is the ultimate comedown for a multi champion.

      1. Bottas is a fast quality driver who makes makes less mistakes generally, throughout his career, then Vettel, who has always mistake prone.

        The speed difference between drivers might not be 1 full second from fastest to slowest, so the best way to rank drivers is mistakes, and nobody, not Rogro or even Maldonado has made as many mistakes as vettel.

        1. Your comment sounds like flamebait, but when I considered it, I have to agree. Even Maldonado made fewer mistakes than Vettel in his career, and both are guilty of dangerous driving on many occasions and also deliberately hitting Hamilton in non racing situations.

    2. At least he made it to Q3…

    3. I find it really difficult to rationalise ranking kimi ahead of vettel. in one of the previous reviews, keith wrote that previous seasons and pre-season expectations should have no bearing on how the driver is rated for this year. and yet, this review is clearly contingent on what we ‘expect’ from a 4-times world champion and ferrari team leader.

      the bald stats do not suggest he was that much worse than leclerc (he beat him in races more often than not, lead a similar number of laps and qualifying was extremely close; i’ll allow he lost the key stat: championship position). if you’re rating them based on this season’s performances alone, then leclerc should be next up. i think some of the conclusions in this article are really hard to justify – his win in singapore was strategy aided, but he drove superbly after the pit stop and was well worth his win.

      i am no great fan of vettel – i think his 4 titles flatter his abilities a little (i believe webber was a weak team-mate after 2010) and although he is a supreme front-runner his many errors in races are not befitting an all-time great. but this review is hard to accept on the terms keith outlined in his previous article (i think it was albon’s review).

      1. @frood19, the particular line that you are looking at from the review Keith wrote for Albon is “But drivers’ experience doesn’t enter into this assessment”.

        It does indeed present something of a contradiction, as it seems that Keith argued against taking pre-season expectations for Albon out of his review there, but then seems to have brought them back in when talking about how he is a four time champion and seemingly bringing in a comparison with previous seasons when talking about Vettel’s performance this year.

        There is also the question as to whether both experience and age should be considered as valid criteria against which to judge a driver. In the case of a less experienced driver, you would expect that the risk of a mistake might be higher or strategy management might be weaker, since those draw on skills that a driver needs to acquire with experience and practise.

        If anything, it is implicit in the article that at least part of the criticism for Vettel is not just in terms of the number of mistakes, but the number of mistakes which he is making as an experienced driver – which would seem to suggest that experience is implicitly being taken into account.

        At the same time, there will also be a certain age effect for some drivers as well, taking into account the general historical trend for driver performances to drop off after a certain age. That would be a pertinent factor in Kimi’s relative performance, as at his age – 40 years old – you would normally expect to start seeing signs of a decline in performance, and in fact probably should have started to see signs of his performance dropping off a couple of years ago.

        If you then looked at the season Kimi had, and also looked at that of Giovinazzi, the former would have the advantage of a far greater experience bank, but perhaps seeing age related effects starting to outweigh that experience advantage, against a much younger driver, but with less experience and the issue of a two year gap in his recent junior career.

        For his age bracket, Kimi’s performance might turn out to have been better than expected for his particular age bracket, but at the same time it would then raise the question of whether a driver who was, say, in their early to mid 30s – so, old enough to have a decent amount of experience, but young enough that they’re still probably operating close to their peak – might have performed more strongly than Kimi did with the car he had at his disposal.

        Would we consider his season performance to be quite good, as he might have outperformed what other drivers in his age bracket might have been expected to do? Or was it possibly not quite so strong a season as first thought, as the sort of decline in performance you might expect from a driver of his age bracket might indicate the car was better than popular opinion thinks it was?

        It’s a complex situation, and I feel that Keith is a bit inconsistent on that topic – sometimes it feels like wider expectations and experience are accounted for, and sometimes it feels as if they aren’t, not to mention the question of whether the vox populi is sometimes accounted for or ignored when coming up with certain ratings.

        1. As usual, well argued Anon, thanks for writing this, captures my feeling about this years rankings quite well.

      2. I think Vettel is ranked higher than he should be, not a top 10 performance this season

        but I agree with you on the interpretation os the rankings, does experience matter or not after all?

  2. I’m not sure what I’m missing with Raikkonen’s season. He was very strong indeed during the first half of the year but was largely anonymous in the second to my mind. I would have thought that would average out to 10th/11th at best. Looking forward to reading that piece when it comes out.

    1. @geemac
      The difference between Kimi and Seb is that Kimi drove an almost flawless season, with Spa/Singapore being his only “questionable” judgement calls (albeit both pretty straightforward textbook racing incidents), opposed to Seb who drove such a mistake ridden season that even ranked #10 is still to generous if you ask me.
      And although Kimi’s second half of the season was rather anonymous, which may have something to do with the lack of development at Sauber, he still managed a 4th place in Brazil.
      To put it simple: Kimi delivered, Seb didn’t.

    2. @geemac Sauber’s pace was clearly lacking in 2nd half of the season so that’s why Kimi might’ve seemed to be a little bit anonymous, but he still comfortably beat his team mate even in the latter half of the season. Plus he was 0.5 seconds away from a podium in Brazil. With that Sauber. Let that sink in.

      I expect Kimi to be ranked 5th or 6th.

      1. I’m a huge Kimi fan but Brazil had little to do with Kimi to be honest. Three cars ahead retired (Bottas, Leclerc, Vettel), one got pushed out (Albon), and one got penalized for that push (Hamilton). And the times were compressed from the safety car. I know that racing is racing and all this happens and so he was that close. But he was half of a second from 4th, which turned into a third. And without the carnage, he was half a second from 8th. Still a good finish from a Sauber late in the year, but not quite proof of Kimi’s brilliance.

        1. @hobo, compressing the field under the safety car also brought Grosjean within range of Kimi, plus made sure that his tyres were so cold that he couldn’t defend against Kimi (Haas having long had issues with that in 2019), with Sainz then helpfully shoving Grosjean so far out of the way that he also let Kimi through.

          Furthermore, there is the fact that Giovinazzi was also having one of his best, if not his best, weekend in the whole of the 2019 season at the Brazilian GP – he was shadowing Kimi for much of that race, and was already on course for equalling his best finish this season even before those retirements and collisions.

          Now, if Kimi had been significantly more competitive, then you could make a case for driver alone making the difference – but given Giovinazzi was markedly more competitive and closely matched to Kimi, that makes it look a lot more like Brazil just happened to favour Sauber particularly well.

          Furthermore, the fact that Kimi was within half a second of Sainz on the podium doesn’t really mean a lot, given how compacted the field was after the late safety car. Kimi might have been within half a second of 3rd, but is that really worth that much when Kvyat, who was in 10th, finished within three seconds of 3rd place? In fact, the entire field finished within six seconds of Sainz in 3rd place – so was it really any sort of achievement, or really little more than a decent amount of luck in a race where Kimi had half a dozen drivers vanishing from in front of him?

          1. It was Safety cars that bunched Gio and Kimi also and gave Sainz the chance too.

  3. He was poor this season, however, I would still have ranked him ahead of Raikkonen and Norris certainly. As Keith has previously mentioned, this a driver ranking based purely on how a driver performed this season, irrespective of their level of experience. In that case, I don’t believe Norris had a particularly impressive season. Sure, he was every so slightly better than Sainz in qualifying, but he was generally way off his teammate’s pace in the race, and he had a few mares. Vettel on the other hand, made plenty of errors and was outclassed by Leclerc, but was closer to the pace than Norris. Vettel had some pretty steady races in Baku, Monaco, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Russia and Mexico. And as for Raikkonen, he was steady, but unspectacular. There was clearly a lot more potential in that Alfa Romeo that he didn’t unlock, and although he was surprisingly good in the first half of the season, he tailed off in the 2nd half.

    1. +1

  4. Doesn’t deserve to be in the top ten. Should be behind Hulkenberg, Albon and Russell

    1. -1

  5. Way to generous for me.
    Don’t get me wrong, I love Seb, both as a human eing and as a racer, and on his day he is one of the greats in the field, but this season was so below par, and with so many mistakes, I rate his season as miserable as Romain’s or Robert’s, and certainly below Pierre, Alex, George, Nico and probably Gio to.
    I’m curious how he would be ranked if he had been driving a Haas or a Williams.

    1. I agree. Bahrain, Canada, Britain, Italy, and Brazil – he choked or crashed in a quarter of the races this year

    2. I agree too. The problem is no driver was as bad as Vettel at his worst, not even Kubica. Spinning twice untouched (Bahrain, Monza), crashing into Verstappen with a terribly judged attempt, losing it under pressure from Hamilton in Canada and then the subsequent post-race pantomime, drifting into his team mate in Brazil. And that’s without considering just the poor performances in qualifying and races. He did have some good qualifying sessions and races. But that’s in a Ferrari. Had he been in a Haas or Williams, like you said, who would have noticed them? None were truly exceptional. Just the bad moments would stand out from his season were he in a car lower down the grid, because they were bad for any driver in any car. Tenth place seems generous.

      1. Precisely. There are degrees of being bad. Someone could be lackluster or anonymous, being beaten by 30 sec by teammate and so on. Then there is the Vettel level bad. That no one achieved.

        He would have had to have got some high level victories to overcome that.

  6. All doubts about him would be gone if he moved to another team, he’d be back to his best in a jiffy I’m sure. That Ferrari environment is toxic.

    1. @fer-no65 I’m not sure if you can really blame the environment. Leclerc seems to be doing well in the exact same environment, and Alonso was still performing excellently in the Ferrari environment (regardless of what was happening off-track). Vettel is performing this way because this is just the level of driver he is. He was accident-prone in his Toro Rosso days, he was accident-prone in his Red Bull days, and he is accident-prone now. This is just Sebastian Vettel: a driver who really isn’t special, but had a car that was dominant enough to make him look better than he was. Just imagine if Mercedes signed Nick Heidfield instead of Hamilton in 2013; Rosberg would likely statistically be an all-time great in F1, even though he really shouldn’t be classed up there.

      1. @mashiat I’m not sure we can compare Alonso and Charles with Vettel’s situation. Alonso didn’t have a guy like LeClerc in the other car pushing him hard (and he has a relentless personality), and Charles is the new guy, no one was expecting him to lead the team like this.

        I’m not saying either had it easier, but some people like different environments. And Ferrari really is toxic. It’s all convoluted over there, they put a lot of pressure on them. And it can start awesome and end up very bad… All 3 drivers started their stints with the team in the best shape. 2 of them ended it badly… Time will tell if LeClerc follows a similar path.

        1. I’m not sure we can compare Alonso and Charles with Vettel’s situation. Alonso didn’t have a guy like LeClerc


          To be fair.. Vettel was equally poor even when he had Kimi in that other seat last season.. and the season before that wasn’t particularly impressive either.. and the season before that.

          Vettel’s two Ferrari #1 driver predecessors (Schumi and Alonso) managed the pressure really well. So suddenly labelling the Ferrari environment as ‘toxic’ is nothing but an excuse for a driver who has been faltering since 2014.

          1. How many titles [of any description] did Alonso win for Ferrari?

            And who was it that went to pieces when Mattiacci took over?

          2. @todfod it’s not just the drivers that feel the toxicity… the whole team gets immersed in it.

            Mind, I’m not saying Seb’s doing well. And I’m not using that environment as an excuse. He’s been doing BAD, like really really bad. But then you have a place where they make strategies errors like those we saw this year? how do you bounce back while your team mate is beating you? while standing the amount of pressure in the Ferrari factory…

            If Seb moved teams, he’d start to do well again, in a more relaxed way.

          3. How you can blame not winning titles on alonso in 2010-2014 is beyond me.

            To win titles you need 1) car performance, 2) reliability, 3) strategy, 4) driver performance, 4) alone is not enough.

            Vettel doesn’t deliver 4).

  7. Vettel had a crappy season, like he seems to have when a young teammate comes along, but to be behind Kimi, Norris or Perez is just not where I would put him on my list. Fighting in the big league takes a lot more than scoring ocasional points in the midfield. Here’s why I don’t think the guys mentioned before deserve to get higher than Seb:

    – Kimi did OK mostly, but in a team where there’s no pressure and with a good enough car he only needed to keep it clean. Which he did, but we don’t know if the car had more in it or not because GIO wasn’t close for most of the season.
    – Norris was pretty good for a rookie, and had lots of bad luck during the season, but when things went his way he didn’t put any awe-inspiring performances (outside of a few good laps in qually)
    – Perez was solid in the last 3rd of the season, but prior to that he didn’t shine at all and didn’t even score points for like 6 or 7 races in a row.

  8. What to do with former champions that seem to get into the phase where they are only around on past merit rather than current performance? In the past we’ve seen several roles for them. Raikkonen being a good nr2. Michael helping a team to rise. Or Raikkonen again, sticking around at a lower graded team who can use his experience and he can use their car to simply keep doing what he loves doing. So what role could Vettel play? He can be a solid nr 2 to Charles. He can move to Alfa or Haas. He can not go to any of the other top teams imho since he has little added value to their existing line up. I don’t see him being a nr 2. It has not dawned to him yet that he is no longer WDC material. He could be of enormeous added value at Haas or a team like it. But overall, looking at the limited nr of seats and the talent waiting to get into F1 (of which some simply have to take seats elsewhere since no F1 seats are available) one could argue that we need to rotate this talent must faster. This means the Vettels needs to make way for them. As much as I appreciate past performance, this is not a Saturday afternoon local sports club with a social role to play to its members. This is supposed to be the creme de la creme, pinnacle of Motorsports.

    1. Totally agree, and yes, vettel would be good for a team like haas or williams, but do they really need to spend 30-40 mill a year for him? Better a few mill for their current drivers I’d say.

  9. But the vexing question for Vettel remains just how can he cut out the costly errors which have come to define his past few seasons at Ferrari?


    Vettel is a great driver. We’ve all seen his abilities, and know how well he can drive. However, over the past few seasons he just doesn’t seem to be able to keep it together. He makes mistake after mistake, and his performance against the inexperienced (although undoubtedly highly talented) Leclerc in the latter part of this season has been embarrassing.

    If he can’t cut the mistakes out, I can’t see him staying in F1 for much longer. At the very least I don’t see Ferrari tolerating it now they’ve got Leclerc operating at a similar, or even higher, level.

    1. But thats the point. He cant cut these errors out. Thats his driver profile. You just didnt notice before when he was starting at the front row all the time at RB. He imho has never had racing (another driver) skills (on WDC level). He sure is fast with no one around, I will give him that. He is probably one of the most fortunate drivers ever, having had such a streak at RB.

    2. @drmouse

      “We’ve all seen his abilities, and know how well he can drive”

      Yes, when he’s out in front with a massive car advantage. I don’t like to belittle his achievements, 4 in a row is still something to be proud off, but it is looking more and more like the car was the real star. I refused to believe this at the time, not because I was a fan, but because he was doing the business, while his teammate was floundering.

      As big an Alonso fan as I was at the time, I used to dismiss his claims like “we are racing Newey” or “The championships will hurt him in future”. However, in the last few years, in hindsight, I see that he may have had a point. I have not seen Alonso belittle any of is rivals’ achievements, he has nothing but respect for the likes of Lewis and Jenson, but with Vettel, I starting to believe he saw through the veneer of Newey’s magical blown diffuser.

      I’d be happy for Vettel to prove us wrong, but he’s been doing pretty poorly over the last few years. I can’t see him beating Leclerc next year.

      1. Which always makes me wonder: How could Ferrari have missed that? How could they only look at his 4xWDC and then just hire him? Especially after he already dropped the ball vs Ricciardo.

  10. Pretty harsh but I can live with this.

    I really think that Ferrari just can’t quite develop a really nicely balanced car and Vettel doesn’t seem to be able to manage to drive it in the sort of metronomic style that he could when he was driving the RBR car. Worse than that he hasn’t been able to adapt to it either whereas other drivers in the past at Ferrari have been able to.

    Unfortunately there’s nowhere for him to go so I’m expecting 2020 to be much the same unless somehow Ferrari deliver a miracle car.

    1. Unfortunately there’s nowhere for him to go so I’m expecting 2020 to be much the same unless somehow Ferrari deliver a miracle car.

      Even then I expect Leclerc to beat him.

      1. I believe the better the car is, in terms of aero, the closer the two will be matched. It would be an interesting fight if Ferrari were to be miles ahead of the others (which they won’t be)…

  11. Too generous of a ranking imo – the “good” half of his season was flattered by Ferrari very obviously knee-capping Leclerc to give him any and every advantage they could. Once Leclerc proved that he won’t roll over and they had to start being more fair, it all went downhill quick.

    For me, it’s too many poor seasons in a row for Seb now. Lewis had that one bad year where he kept crashing into Felipe, Alonso had a demotivated year in that dog of a McLaren, Max had a terrible half season last year, but all bounced back or showed the fire is still there.

    1. What did LEC so great in Canada, for example? He couldn’t keep up with VET and HAM. He didn’t prove that much. Until that moment, Bahrain could have been very well just a…. one-off. BOT beat HAM few times every year, in his debut year at Mercedes too. That didn’t make Mercedes give BOT full support. On contrary, they made him a roadblock for Ferrari and RBR every time possible. In my opinion, BOT’s tenure at Mercedes is one of the most obvious cases of no.2 in history.

  12. I don’t rate Vettel or his performances highly.. but I still think keeping him lower than Kimi this season is a bit much. I would put Vettel at #9.

  13. Interesting that the Drivers put him at #8 this year and the team bosses at #5.

    1. with the rookies, the drivers went Lando, George and Alex (who was behind Gasly in their view), while the team bosses went with Alex in front of George and then Lando.

  14. I wrote off Vettel way back last spring, but he has bounced back somewhat.
    He has not, and will not, win a title with Ferrari. Neither will HAM, if he ever gets to try. That’s just pure guesswork on my part of course.

    It takes a very special blend of talents to be a Ferrari champion!

    However, we are still left with Seb as one of our top drivers. A multi title winner. Can’t take that away from him.

  15. Not sure much logic was applied in the comparison between Vettel/Leclerc, considering that Leclerc is going to be ahead of Seb in the final standings. Don’t get me wrong, he had a bad season by his supposed expected standards, but these driver rankings are supposed to be a purely driver vs. driver performance comparison over the 21 races, which this cannot be.

    Firstly, he only finished 24 points behind Leclerc – less than a race win. Hardly shocking in anyone’s books without being unnecessarily critical.

    Then, he also had 2 mechanical retirements where Leclerc had zero.

    So, as a purely driver vs. driver comparison, this is clearly wrong. I have no problem with him being 10th, but I assume that Leclerc will be inside the top 6 in these ratings, where he should be no higher than 9th, at best, if you compare apples with apples. Either both were bad, or both were good. They had very similar pace over the season as well, if you even it out. Leclerc was only better in qualifying, which is great but his points advantage is very small indeed considering that, so it can even be argued that his Sundays were very bad.

    1. @ho3n3r, Vettel had two mechanical DNF’s, but in terms of total DNF’s from all causes, Leclerc and Vettel have the same number of retirements at three each – so, in that respect, you could say that he’s not really at quite as much of a disadvantage as you suggest.

      1. From what I’ve read and seen, Vettel’s dnf in cota was fully his own fault. He went wide, off track, and clobbered a sausage kerb that broke the suspension.

        LEC got extremely frustrated with Ferrari’s incompetence in Monaco and wasn’t going to score points anyway.

        And of course Vettel took them both out in Brazil.

        LEC dominated Vettel in his 1st Ferrari season and 2nd overall. Vet is done, stick a fork in him.

        1. @megatron, there is a difference of opinion on what exactly happened in COTA and as to whether it was really down to hitting that kerb.

          There were those noting that Ferrari did seem to be doing more work than usual around the right rear hand side of Vettel’s car on the grid, and Vettel did seem to be clearly struggling on the opening lap from the very first corner with rear traction.

          Given that drivers normally do not drive at full speed on the lap to the grid or the formation lap and that particular kerb was added after qualifying – so that kerb shouldn’t have damaged the suspension during qualifying – and Vettel seemed to be reporting odd handling almost immediately, that suggests to me that the suspension was already damaged – personally, I think it was more likely that the suspension was defective to begin with rather than being due to anything Vettel personally did.

          1. Good information, thanks.

            Still, yet another very poor season from vettel.

    2. The points gap to Leclerc would likely have been far greater if Seb didn’t have a skewed level of support in the first few races of the season… Something oddly omitted from Keith’s analysis.

  16. It’s hard to rank Vettel based on this season, especially as we don’t know exactly how good Leclerc is. When the car is exactly to his liking, Vettel may well be the best driver out there, but when he doesn’t like the car he is slow and error-prone. It seemed he really didn’t like the car mid-season, but he got more comfortable later on and from Singapore onward he was able to match Leclerc for pace again. Still, he ended up behind his teammate and the gap could have been bigger hadn’t it been for 1) team-orders, 2) Leclerc’s Monaco qualifying goof-up, 3) Leclerc’s crash in Germany (where Vettel was actually pretty slow).

    1. Vettel was never the best, he only got the privilege to sit in by far the best car some years, and even then he made far too many mistakes.

  17. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    18th December 2019, 12:31

    53 Wins
    57 Podiums
    110 Total

    I’ve been a critic of Vettel’s racing skills for a long time but you don’t break a century of poles and wins without having some ability as we’ve seen with Gasly and Albon who are not able to deliver in a top car. You can’t win the Champions League 3 times in a row without a skilled player who can score a hat trick against the best teams. You can’t win Roland Garros 11 times without being a pretty decent player on clay.

    Bad season from Vettel – if the engine specs hadn’t changed, Vettel would have probably been a 10 time consecutive champion – keep that in mind :-)

    1. @freelittlebirds, that does stray, however, into the issue of blending past and current performance together – for example, Schumacher was significantly further ahead in those statistics himself, but wasn’t immune from criticism on his return (although there is the suggestion that his motorcycle crash during his time out left him with medical issues).

    2. @freelittlebirds

      Bad season from Vettel – if the engine specs hadn’t changed, Vettel would have probably been a 10 time consecutive champion – keep that in mind :-)

      If he wasn’t in that Newey Rocketship… He wouldn’t even have been a title contender in any season of his F1 career.
      Keep that in mind ;)

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        18th December 2019, 17:40

        @todfod yeah but Gasly and Albon are in the same car as Verstappen and they’re not doing as well. Ricciardo wasn’t doing as well as Verstappen before he left.

        A lot of people are in the same car and ain’t doing well. Webber had the same car as Vettel (at least according to Horner).

        Ultimately doing well is not as easy as it sounds even if you have everything at your disposal including what you call a rocketship. Look at Verstappen and his different season halves – he’s got the same car but he’s just a different driver.

        1. @freelittlebirds, there have been some reports indicating Gasly didn’t always have the same car as Verstappen this season, with instances where Verstappen’s car was fitted with newer specification parts than Gasly’s car had.

          In fact, in something that has shades of what happened to Webber in Silverstone several years ago, there were reports that, when Verstappen crashed his car during the practise sessions for the Austrian GP, as Red Bull didn’t have any spares of the upgraded bodywork they’d brought, they stripped the latest parts off Gasly’s car and fitted them to Verstappen’s car instead, with Gasly having to revert back to older specification parts.

          There is also the question of, even if the car is ostensibly the same, whether the operational support of the team is necessarily equal between the two drivers as well. Webber indicated that, in his opinion, he wasn’t always getting the same level of technical support from his team that he felt Vettel was being given, with Vettel getting a higher share of the more experienced staff and his feedback being given more weight by the designers.

          Similarly, this year Red Bull confirmed they were putting the more experienced and stronger team of mechanics and engineers on Verstappen’s side of the garage. Even if the car was the same, the technical support from the team seems to have been weighted in Verstappen’s favour this season, much as Webber suggested it was weighted in Vettel’s favour when he was there. How heavy that weighting was is a question that is open to debate, but it seems there is some merit in questioning whether things were necessarily quite as even as we think they were.

    3. @freelittlebirds – Vettel has ability. And he has really good career stats. But this is the 2019 ranking. In 2019, he had fewer poles, podiums, and wins than his teammate. He had fewer points than his teammate. He crashed both him and his teammate out at Brazil. To say nothing of his many, many other unforced errors (Bahrain, Italy, Canada…)

      And he finished last among the top five drivers (normally six, but we know RBR doesn’t have a top-tier second right now).

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        18th December 2019, 17:34

        @hobo I’m not debating that his ranking is off or that he didn’t make mistakes. I think you’re all correct in pointing those out.

        1. @freelittlebirds – Okay. Was it more of a response to those saying that Vettel was never good? If so, that makes more sense.

        2. @freelittlebirds Yup he is certainly no mug, Hamilton could become 10 X wc though if the 2021 regs don’t change. Why i feel Vet is not in the top tier is he as only looked good against poor drivers. If Hamilton was his teammate, Vet probably wins one title against him if they were in the same car. Rosberg imo is a very underrated driver, if you think Hamilton is much better than Vettel like i always have then you have to say Rosberg is better aswell. Rosberg pushed Hamilton to the limit in qualifying. Never since Ham came to F1 as a teammate worried me more Hamilton vs Rosberg. No one scared me half as much. I know it took reliabiity but Rosberg was close even when he lost to Hamilton. Rosberg was one of the most underrated drivers in years.

          If Vettel was Hamilton teammate do you think he could beat him? I don’t. Remember before this season and @robbie said it was probably a fluke Ricciardo beating Vettel in 14 as Vet did not like the car, im sorry but Vettel is now 0-2 in his own team vs new young guys who are quick that is terrible. That is not a fluke anymore. He needs old guys like Kimi and Webber to look world class. We have seen Hamilton vs all different sort of drivers shine and not once look outclassed even in 2011.

  18. here’s my bottom half of the rating with Vettel in it:

    11) Russell

    12) Hulkenberg

    13) Vettel

    14) Magnussen

    15) Gasly

    16) Kvyat

    17) Giovinazzi

    18) Grosjean


    20) Kubica

  19. Anyone would think Vettel had been trounced by his younger highly regarded teammate given the reaction to this season. The reality is that he hasn’t, something backed up by the qualifying margin (+0.07) and finishing positions. Leclerc is not a rookie, Vettel has done fine against him. I’d actually have Vettel higher, only just slightly behind Leclerc but that’s just me.

    1. @john-h Vettel is 0-2 when a new man joins his already established team, that is embarassing. Being beaten 9 times in a row in qualifying is also embarassing. One man is gonna get better and better and it is not Vettel. This is Max vs Ricciardo in the making, with Leclerc being Max.

  20. I think just about every driver ranking has had Kimi comments. Just imagine if he was any good still

  21. Maybe too harsh on Vettel, the guy is after world championships, 2019 was his fifth season with Ferrari and it was over by race 1, Ferrari were too slow to threaten for either title. Difficult to keep motivated when all your doing is effectively waiting for the 2020 season to start and hope that Ferrari is faster. I felt like he was just going through the motions this year, not as hungry as younger drivers for wins and poles, he just wants a car capable of winning a championship.

  22. I can’t stand this talk about “Vettel never was a great driver, he never changed, that car made him look good”.

    This is simply not true at all.

    Vettel had his worst season up to date, by far, not even comparable to his best seasons. It is not “same old Vettel”.
    He had been rated consistently for almost a decade as a Top 3 driver, and he did it on merit.

    That RBR had much less dominance over the field than the Mercedes, most of the time. So it was mostly him who made the car look good, not the other way around.

    I get the perception that Vettel has made mistakes all his career (who really hasn’t), so I kinda understand people jumping to the “good (or bad) ol’ Vettel” complains, but if you have been following the last 10 seasons of F1 closely, than this has to be the worst version of Seb, not the normal version.

    1. @magon4 Last year was pathetic aswell. That Ferrari was by far the car built since 08.

  23. I think this whole thing needs a re-think – people seem to be confused as to some drivers position vs others and whether it’s a scoring of an individual drivers performance through the season in isolation, or compared to the rest of the grid.

    Maybe instead of doing a “ranking”, there should be a “rating” out of 10. Score a driver compared to his own expectations (in the team/car he is in), compare to previous seasons (or if they are a rookie, adjust accordingly) etc. Do it by championship finishing position and you won’t have every comment section proceeding a controversial choice dominated by angry comments.

    1. And when the rating is done, rank them according to that rating ;)

  24. Come on Seb, get your act together. It’s what everyone wants.

  25. Break the performance down:
    Speed: Matched expectations – a good solid performance.
    Racecraft: Underperforming – a seasoned world champ should not be crashing into his teammate.

  26. He did have a shocker, almost worthy of further demotion down the list. maybe 13th

  27. Another poor season by Vettel. In fact the latest in a string of poor seasons, ever since Ricciardo beat him comprehensively at Red Bull. Vettel is a very fast driver, but has never been (and never will be) a great driver. He lacks the strength of character and mental discipline to achieve true greatness. Never prepared to follow team orders, or in fact to be a team player. He is too prone to mistakes and crashes (some of which appeared deliberate going all the way back to 2010), has an over-developed sense of entitlement, and is always ready to spit the dummy when things don’t go his way. His four championships flatter him – he had the “Newey rocketship”, a team which greatly favoured him over his team mate, and (in Webber’s last years) a team mate who seemed to be going through the motions. The speed of the car put him on pole and he was mostly able to drive into the distance with nobody to catch him.

    Taking performance against potential I would rate Vettel much lower than 10th this year.

  28. All-time low?

  29. Stats suggest Vettel was as good as Leclerc. A tiny margin 0.07, lead similar amounts of laps, finished slightly ahead in more races, similar quali record… etc.

    But Eyeball test shows Leclerc had a breakthrough season and Vettel seems to be in a terminal decline.

    Game on next year.

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