Facing these options, retirement looks like Vettel’s best move

2020 F1 season

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As Sebastian Vettel clinched multiple ‘youngest-ever’ Formula 1 records – points scorer, pole starter, grand prix winner, world champion and so on – many tipped him to become the sport’s first eight-time, breaking the record set by his hero Michael Schumacher.

Then his record-setting runs suddenly ceased as his winning streak slowed. Vettel won 13 races with Red Bull in 2013, when he scored his most recent championship; his total victory tally over the six seasons which followed (one with Red Bull, five with Ferrari) is just 14.

Arguably, Vettel has not had a top-drawer car since 2013. But twice in that period inexperienced team mates outscored him in the wins stakes: Daniel Ricciardo in 2014 and Charles Leclerc last year.

By the end of 2019 it increasingly appeared Leclerc had become the Scuderia’s favourite son, which surely hurt. A lot.

Against that background it is little wonder Ferrari is believed to have offered Vettel only a one-year extension on vastly reduced terms for 2021 for under $10m – less than a third of what he currently earns. Similarly, it is little wonder Vettel rejected that deal, instead putting himself about in search of higher fees, either as a bargaining chip with Ferrari, or to secure an alternate seat with a better deal.

How Red Bull’s overlooked junior driver became Ferrari’s next star
“Financial matters have played no part in this joint decision”, stated Vettel when his departure from Ferrari was announced three days ago. That may well be so, but it is equally true that in F1 a driver’s income is an indicator of perceived worth and talent, and when stock is way down it is clearly time to move on (or out).

Vettel’s decision sparked the first major moves in the 2021 F1 driver market, handing a dream Ferrari seat to Carlos Sainz Jnr and a ticket out of Renault to Daniel Ricciardo.

According to sources, Vettel knocked on doors at both Red Bull and McLaren. The former listened intently, then made clear its commitment is to younger (cheaper) talent, as Verstappen siphons off most of its budget and drivers such as Alexander Albon costs a fifth of Vettel’s minimum price. Apparently, McLaren did not even open the door for negotiations, having decided on Ricciardo after Sainz requested a release.

Thus, Vettel finds himself out in the cold with few, if any, tempting options.

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He needs a berth which offers him a shot at race victories plus at least outside chance of a fifth title. Recent history points to only three teams – Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull – suitably equipped under the current formula, the lifespan of which was recently extended by one year due to Covid-19.

Given the rejections he’s had so far, that leaves only Mercedes. The Silver Arrows is unlikely to mess with its present winning pairing of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas simply to accommodate a driver who recent form indicates is likely to be in Hamilton’s shadow, certainly until his feet feel secure in the footwell.

Daniel Ricciardo, Lando Norris, McLaren, Singapore, 2019
McLaren chose Ricciardo over Vettel to partner Norris
It’s hard to see Vettel playing second fiddle to Hamilton. Therefore, a move to Mercedes hinges on what Hamilton will do about his current Mercedes contract, which expires at the end of the year. A Mercedes departure for him is unlikely, even with a seventh title in the bag, for that would leave him poised to overhaul Michael Schumacher and become the most crowned driver in the history of the sport.

A more likely scenario is that Hamilton, whose options narrowed after the Sainz signing, goes for titles seven and eight in 2020/21, then retires – triggering a Mercedes’s exit which coincides with the (delayed) change of formula. So, as things stand now, Mercedes is an unlikely option for Vettel.

Could Renault become the victory-chasing option Vettel craves? On present evidence that is unlikely, unless new technical recruit Pat Fry works immediate wonders. And that assumes incoming CEO Luca de Meo countenances the beleaguered brand’s continuation in F1.

How about Racing Point – soon to become Aston Martin? A work-in-progress and unlikely to provide a winning car in 2021 given its ongoing restructure. This may involve a more long-term commitment than Vettel is prepared to consider at this stage in his career.

That leaves (Red Bull junior team) AlphaTauri, Haas, Sauber and Williams. Do you see any of these providing Vettel with a lucrative, race-winning package in 2021? I don’t either.

So, the final option: Retirement at the age of 33 with four titles under his belt – tied with Alain Prost in the all-time list, no disgrace, that – an estimated $200 million in the bank, and a home in Switzerland shared with loving wife Hanna and their family consisting of two daughters and recently-born son.

What’s not to like about that after 14 years in the F1 cauldron? He would also be F1’s youngest four-time champion retiree…

Announce it soon, Seb – with the dignity you so often displayed during your illustrious career.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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  • 160 comments on “Facing these options, retirement looks like Vettel’s best move”

    1. An interesting article and one which begs a few comments. Vettel certainly was, and still is, under certain circumstances, a fast and furious driver but his skills in wheel to wheel were always a bit of a problem. He was fine when he was out front and had no one breathing down his neck but put him under pressure and he was left wanting. Webber showed that on more than one occasion, besides, he was not a team player. The ‘multi 21’ facade a prime example. Ricciardo exposed him for what he was and that left him nowhere in Red Bull and he high tailed it to Ferrari and proved once again that he didn’t have the chops. It’s hard to feel any sympathy really. Personally i can’t see him hanging around and if he does so it will further diminish an excellent, win wise, career. He should move on IMO and become an expert advisor/come broadcaster somewhere within the F1 community. He speaks very good English and he has a sense of humour that would go well in the public arena. The corpulent lady has finished her aria.

      1. @kenji Not everything you say is fair. The Multi-21 thing was a response to Webber doing something similar before that. And Vettel definitely helped lift the spirits at Ferrari. The rest you say is probably fair though.

        1. Can’t remember Webber doing something similar can you say when ?

          1. proud_asturian
            15th May 2020, 21:27

            Interlagos. 2012. “Multimap 1-2” “What switch is that mate.”
            You have a very short memory.

            1. Yes i have short memory bro ;)
              but i remember Michael Schumacher last race :)
              And i can’t remember any Multimap 1-2 at Interlagos 2012
              All i can remember is Vettel crashing with Bruno Senna in first lap :(
              and you can see a replay of that
              and they would not meet in the rest of the GP :(

            2. Webber let Seb through twice that race. Over the team radio, “thank you Mark“. Webber certainly didnt make things easy for Seb early on in the race but who wants to win that way?

            3. The whole ‘payback’ nonsense for Brazil 2012 is a total load of crap and just shows Vettel to be even more of a petulant child.

              It was, what, 150m off the start line of an F1 race coming into corner 1 which is heavy braking at more than 90 degrees with 22 other cars on the track ALL vying for position. Give me a damn break!

              He’s always been a petulant sook and he was just lucky he had the car to deliver him the titles. Same can be said of Hamilton – a petulant sook when things aren’t going his way and hardly dominant when he doesn’t have the best car. Lucky for him he’s been in the best car since 2014, otherwise he’d be a 1 X WDC and finishing no higher in the WDC than 4th, just like the 5 years before 2014!

            1. Horner can say what he wants and he can defend anyone but still i can’t see no Multimap 1-2 at Interlagos 2012
              all i can see is
              1 4 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:15.075 1:13.398 1:12.458 1
              2 3 United Kingdom Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:15.456 1:13.515 1:12.513 2
              3 2 Australia Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:16.180 1:13.667 1:12.581 3
              4 1 Germany Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:15.644 1:13.209 1:12.760 4

              Vettel beeing outqualified buy Webber in qualifying.
              And Vettel losing his mind buy crashing into Senna.
              Yes if they wanted Vettel to win they could change the engine in Webber car and forced him to stars from back row if they wanted the championship so bad

            2. Vettel in a Toro Rosso beat Hamilton at Interlagos 2008. Hamilton very lucky ton win that championship.

          2. @ Silverstone 2011. Webber was given order to keep position but ignored it and tried to pass Vettel. Except he failed so no one remembers it.

        2. @ironman
          Vettel turning in in Senna is his fault of course.
          Webber was given clear instructions not to interfer Vettel championship fight but at the first corner he made Vettel to lose a couple of places. That’ s it. Malaysia was first opportunity to pay back.

          1. Payback for what?
            For a team who CONSTANTLY favored him?
            They would rather have lost the championship in 2010 instead of winning it with Webber.
            Vettel proved to be an egoistic,self centered driver in Malaysia.
            Horner could say what he wants.

            1. Jose Lopes da Silva
              16th May 2020, 13:59

              “at the first corner he made Vettel to lose a couple of places.”
              Payback for this…

          2. Webber was a crybaby.

            Only has himself to blame for not winning in 2010. Threw it away in Korea and out performed in Abu Dhabi when it was all on the line.

      2. overwhelmed at best, more like frustrated he didn’t look happy to be a overpaid Ferrari F1 driver, which is absolutely ridiculous

      3. “under certain circumstances”
        “He was fine when he was out front and had no one breathing down his neck but put him under pressure and he was left wanting.”

        True. The problem with this is that most F1 drivers would have dominated if they had that car. And yeah he had some good races and overtakes but again, so have other drivers. He has 4 titles but honestly falls in the category of 1 time champions.

    2. If he does wish to continue with F1, it’s increasingly likely that he’ll be the loser of this round of F1’s version of “musical chairs” sadly. I still do insist that his choice of leaving Ferrari was the best choice for him and the team. Should this season continue, the situation is only going to get worse between the two drivers unless the team controls it by giving the lesser driver inferior machinery. If somehow Leclerc finds himself in his teammate’s dirty air in 2020, Seb will definitely be in no mood to move over much like Kimi in Monza 2018.

      On the conspiracy side of things, I read an interesting article here.
      Based on what I read here, it does seem somewhat reminiscent with Schumacher’s retirement conspiracies. If that were the case (based on the above-mentioned article) then he was fighting a losing battle.

      1. I don’t agree with the bottom line of that article, suggesting that it was the team which let Vettel down.
        Ferrari WAS indeed committed to him in the same extent they were to Schumacher in the early 00s. He got better strategies, an accomodating team mate, the cars were designed around him and the management always defended him when he made mistakes.
        The real issue was losing 2017 and (mostly) 2018 battles against Hamilton.
        Those challenges, especially the latter, made clear for everyone that Lewis was the best driver out there, not Sebastian, and that did hurt Seb’s ego a lot.
        He never recovered from that.
        Had he won in 2018, Ferrari’s environment would have become magically heaven-on-earth and more triumphs would have certainly followed, as was the case with Schumacher in 2000.
        Michael outdrove the car, Seb did not.

        1. I completely agree with you, there are many examples where Seb was in a position of 1 on 1 with another driver and he came out on the losing end too many times. Spun in Monza on the second corner with Hamilton, lost his race on the first lap. Spun in Bahrain when battling Hamilton, Leclerc obviously dominated that race and should have won if it wasn’t for a ICE issue. LeClerc won is Spa, Leclerc fought for the win with Verstappen in Austria, Vettel not even in the picture. We all remember Vettels chance to win in Germany where he lost it.
          Unfortunately these moments where the driver is paid his big bucks he needs to deliver. And he started to consistently miss out. The past season in Monza, again spun it and as you know Leclerc under pressure from Hamilton took the win, especially from 2 mercs who could dictate the pitstops, where was Seb?. I think this was the final decision for Ferrari. They saw a new strong challenger in Leclerc who could handle the pressure. Seb slowly lost his pressure racing craft. Especially in Brazil where its clear he didn’t drive strait and veered into Leclerc.
          Leclerc also tallied up 7-2 poles against Seb in hist first year at Ferrari, not to mention beat him in all the stats so the pressure was surely on him.

          Unfortunately in a top team, you are under the gun to perform, he showed many mistakes over the past 3 years and I think that was the final straw.

          1. I think Vettel knew in Brasill that he is out of Ferrari, it can be read from his face after crash into Leclerc

          2. I’m not convinced the series of spins was down to driver error, rather than the car. They were all in near identical circumstances where another car was just off the front three quarter, and the car snapped round as the disturbed airflow hit it.

            1. Dave, I imagine, though, that there will be those who wonder why we did not also see a similar situation occur for Kimi if it were entirely down to the car itself.

        2. @liko41 I think the article makes some very good points. Just look how many changes in management took place at Ferrari 2014-2019. Nothing to do with the carefully and gradually structured, very stable Ferrari team that MS could rely on. The Jerez 1997 fiasco didn’t even make a dent in their relationship. In fact I would argue MS could rely on a great team of engineers/technicians/designers for a lot longer than his stint an Ferrari – in fact he made them follow him from Benetton. So there.

          And today’s Ferrari has been mostly chaos, just like prior to the Jean Todt era.

          1. @bobec
            Today’s Ferrari is chaos even because Vettel did not deliver when he had the chance to.
            Had he won in 2018 (with the best car for two thirds of the season, let’s remember), Arrivabene would have stayed and the whole environment would have been magical.
            Same thing with Alonso in 2010.
            Because, you know, results do determine the athmosphere and do turn a disgraced team principal into a demiGod in a split second.

            1. @liko41 If you are out to diss Vettel, you’ll just keep doing it no matter what the facts say. Yes Vettel made his mistakes, but you are totally missing the big picture, so well portrayed in the article, but sadly requiring a cool and objective mind to process it.
              Maybe Arrivabene should not have stayed? Maybe he would have stayed after a potential win in 2018, but it won’t have helped the team, because he was part of the problem? Notice how I use the word “maybe”, not just stating my personal subjective opinion like it was a fact.
              The 2018 Ferrari was better for just a few races. I know, I know, HAM fans will never stop perpetuating the claim the Ferrari was better, period. Even though it wasn’t. And even if it was, great cars from great teams under stable rules don’t stay competitive for just one or two seasons (or part of a season). Look at Mercedes 2014-tday.
              As for Alonso losing in 2010, that happened in the last race and it was entirely the team’s fault.
              In fact objective people have this saying about the Scuderia – expect them to throw it all away at some point in the season.
              Hey, nice talking to you.

          2. Jose Lopes da Silva
            16th May 2020, 14:04

            What do you mean by Jerez 1997 fiasco?
            Ferrari had Fontana and Irvine messing with Villeneuve throughout the weekend. The team knew very well Williams had a superior car that weekend. Schumacher out-drove the car as usually. Frentzen was right behind Villeneuve, and where was Irvine in the race?
            For Ferrari, the fiasco was Fontana not being able to hold Villeneuve longer.

            1. @Jose Lopes da Silva

              I meant that little incident that ended MS’s race and championship. You know, where he actually steered into his competitor seemingly aiming to take him down, leading to the only full season DQ that I can remember.

              I know the Williams was better. Mediocre drivers like Frentzen or Villeneuve would never have had a chance to even win a race against MS.

          3. Jose Lopes da Silva
            16th May 2020, 17:49

            If you know the Williams was better, I don’t understand why do you think Ferrari was unhappy with Schumacher’s move on Villeneuve. They were aware that would be the last chance, Schumacher would hardly get Villeneuve back after being passed.

            1. @ bJose Lopes da Silva because it was a messed up move. I mean, someone has practically overtaken you and you steer into them? Win on merit or lose with dignity.

    3. The desperation of the British narrative to completely negate the possibility of Vettel moving to Mercedes. Besides Bottas giving way, Hamilton would probably run away as well if such a pairing happens.

      1. As opposed to Vettel running away from Riccciardo and Leclerc?

      2. Hamilton would probably run away as well if such a pairing happens.

        Complete and utter tosh. Hamilton partnered with 3 world champions and beat all of them. Button, Rosberg and last but not the least, Alonso. I suspect Vettel would not even trouble Hamilton as much as Rosberg did.

        1. Button, really?

          1. Jose Lopes da Silva
            16th May 2020, 14:05

            Why not?

        2. Yes he won with Alonso in 2007 equal on points with Hamilton having one more second place, Raikkonen having the championship great win :)

        3. Can you include Rosberg as a champion teammate? Sure he became a champion racing against Hamilton, but during their time together Rosberg never started a race as a champion.

      3. Maybe if Amazon starts an F1 team they can afford to have both Hamilton and Vettel to race together in their team….

        1. That’s not a bad business model for Netflix! That would be a customer car with a couple of “controversial,” prima donna drivers, sure to grab views each race.

      4. What a deluded comment. Hamilton has battered and embarrassed Seb wheel you wheel and would do the same to him in a Merc. What complete and utter rubbish.

        1. Jose Lopes da Silva
          16th May 2020, 14:06

          Why do you think Hamilton would battle Vettel wheel to wheel on the same car? I never saw Ayrton Senna battling Michael Andretti.

      5. Yo have an interesting thought process but you forgot to take into account that Seb was the one that kept cracking under pressure and how come Hamilton never ran away from Alonso, Button or Rosberg.

        1. @foggy Don’t think Hamilton is scared of Vettel, but if it happens theoretically, it would be a lot more difficult for Hamilton. Bottas is an average driver and a definite second driver at the team. It’s not even that the team has designated him as such, it’s where he puts himself mentally.
          Alonso was just one season and left for another reason. Button was always average. Rosberg was also seemingly an average driver but managed to improve consistently and became quite quick.
          We really have no idea what would happen if Vettel came to Mercedes – apart from knowing Hamilton won’t run away – and sadly we will not know.

          1. Button was average, but Martin Whitmarsh had a crush on him and heavily helped him (see Montreal 2011), ultimately leading to multiple key personnel exits and the collapse of McLaren.
            Rosberg was massively helped by Mercedes to win the 2016 championship and not even Ferrari’s tifosi (notoriously pretty harsh with Hamilton) could deny that.
            As for Alonso, yeah, he left McLaren because he wanted to be granted with the number one status and the team was not willing to give him.
            Can we talk about Vettel’s teammates now? Webber and Raikkonen were both clearly on a supporting role.

            1. Rosberg was massively helped by Mercedes to win the 2016 championship

              Maybe that’s because I’m not a Ferrari tiffoso but I certainly deny that

            2. @liko41 Yeah ok, and how exactly did the team help Button in Canada 2011? By telling Hamilton to stop when the suspension is clearly broken?
              And saying this started the demise of McLaren is just an opinion. I can say it actually started with Hungary 2007, or more specifically, the qualifying session (and not the last 30 seconds of the last session). But probably things were already happening at that point. It’s the whole scandal surrounding McLaren that kinda forced Alonso to win, especially give the fact some comments and emails of his became part of the scandal. The truth is Ron Dennis – as much as I like him – kinda lost control in 2007 and Whitmarsh was much worse.

              I don’t see Webber in a supporting role. Not sure why I need to explain why. With Raikkonen you have more of a point, but just like with Bottas, at that time he was an average driver and shouldn’t have been at Ferrari after 2014.

            3. @liko41 Forgot to ask you how Rosberg was helped by Mercedes in 2016.

            4. @bobec
              How did Martin favour Button in Canada?
              by allowing him to smash his teammate into the wall on purpose and praising him, instead of criticizing his approach.
              How did Mercedes help Rosberg?
              I don’t know, maybe putting on Lewis’s car THREE cr@ppy engines. Or not working properly on the “mysterious” issues with the starting procedure.
              Go figure.

              You may not be a tifoso, but for sure you MUST be an Hamilton h@ter.
              So sorry for you

            5. Maybe I must, but I’m not

            6. Jose Lopes da Silva
              16th May 2020, 14:08

              What kind of evidence do you get to say Rosberg was massively helped and Webber had a supporting role?

              Why did Ricciardo beat Vettel and Webber didn’t? Maybe Horner enjoyed Ricciardo’s smell better than Webber’s? He told better jokes?

            7. @liko41

              I see, conspiracy theories. It has been an established fact that Hamilton was using thinner oil. Plus you have to consider the fact that there are differences in driving style, sometimes even luck.
              Funny how you look for someone to blame for Hamilton losing in 2016. May I remind you what he said before the final race and what he ended up doing. And who stayed in the team and which people left. Just mind boggling the confirmation bias people have.

              As for Button, how do you know it was on purpose? The weather was nasty, visibility wasn’t great. I guess Martin should have given crap to Button for winning the race, just to keep Hamilton fans happy.

          2. Vettel in an averange driver, he crack under pressure with Riccardo and Leclerc.
            Please show me a two times world champion that cracked under pressure with team mates ?
            Not to mention three or four times chamipion !
            Vettel have luck with Red Bull but luck just have run out :(

            1. Fred Fedurch
              16th May 2020, 14:42

              Please show me a two times world champion that cracked under pressure with team mates?

              Probably the most volatile pairing ever, Senna – Prost

            2. @ironman Or you leave. Alonso stayed one season at McLaren. I personally wish he stayed longer. Maybe Vettel stayed too long at Ferrari, but you have to consider the dynamic and unpredictable changes at the team. Management changed twice between him announcing the move and announcing his retirement, so it’s not all that easy to gauge. But maybe you are right – maybe he is no longer a racing driver. Maybe he will retire.

      6. Nothing to do with the British narrative… it seems it’s a global narrative. Vettel would not want to get thrashed for the 3rd time in his career. Considering he ran with his tails between his legs the last two times he was beaten by a teammate.

        Additionally, Mercedes wouldn’t want a has-been great driver throwing the toys out of his pram at their team either. Also Bottas has been in better form than Sebastian over the past two seasons and he costs a fraction.

        Hamilton scared of Vettel?!? Surely you have been watching F1 long enough to see what Hamilton does to WDC teammates. The only thing more ego bruising to Vettel than retiring quietly is going against Hamilton for a season before retirement.

        1. @todfod Like I said earlier, I don’t support the notion that Hamilton will run, but I don’t feel Vettel ran away from Ricciardo when he left Red Bull. I think we all know there were mostly different reasons for that.

          It’s just as silly to assume Vettel will get “trashed” if he comes to Mercedes. The truth is Mercedes have rejected a lot of good drivers to join Hamilton. Now maybe there is a reason Mercedes should not be interested in a second very good driver that would really challenge Hamilton, but that doesn’t mean those drivers will all get trashed.

          1. I think we all know there were mostly different reasons for that.

            No. Not all of us do. While it did seem like the Red Bull wasn’t as competitive in 2014 as it was in previous seasons, it also looked like he was finally up against a young and fast teammate.

            It’s just as silly to assume Vettel will get “trashed” if he comes to Mercedes.

            I think it’s silly to assume he won’t get thrashed. Vettel got smashed by Ricciardo and Leclerc.. and you think he will receive any less of a beating from Hamilton?

            1. @todfod See, there you go assuming again and that’s not good. Vettel had a poor 2014 season. However, that’s after 4 straight years of dominance and all of a sudden you no longer can have that. Red Bull hasn’t been nowhere near the same until today, even if they are getting better – and that’s with the amazing Max Verstappen. So if you manage to put yourself in Vettel’s situation, it’s a lot more likely he lost his motivation and faith in the team. That’s also the likely reason he left. But people are free to assume in their favor.

            2. To bobec or bobic
              If you lose motivation and faith in the team you are no longer a racing driver !
              If you are a racing driver you fight like Alonso did in 2007 McLaren !!!

            3. So if you manage to put yourself in Vettel’s situation, it’s a lot more likely he lost his motivation and faith in the team. That’s also the likely reason he left. But people are free to assume in their favor.

              If I put myself in his shoes.. I would still be motivated to fight for wins (like Ricciardo did).. I would also look at beating my teammate (as every driver on the grid is). I also wouldn’t lose my faith in a team that had just given me a championship winning car for 4 seasons in a row and backed me as their undisputed #1 driver

              Well.. I guess that’s just me. I would find motivation in the 2014 season pretty easily.

              I feel there are so many poor excuses to justify Vettel’s thrashing in 2014… but no one would like to believe the most obvious reason that’s been in front of us for the 6 past seasons – He just isn’t good enough.

      7. Vettel is a lot less expensive than Hamilton and will win the title if paired against Bottas. It makes sense, but is unlikely.

        1. What if Red Bull has indeed a great car and Mercedes has Vettel, instead of Hamilton in the car?
          Exactly, they would lose.
          That’s why Wolff won’t hire Vettel and won’t fire Hamilton. Even if this would cost him a huge sum.

          1. @liko41 If Red Bull have a car that’s better than Mercedes, they would win against Hamilton, just as they would win against Vettel.

            1. @bobec
              Dude, we clearly have another Hamilton h@ter here!
              It’s hilarious to see how much this guy had ruined your life, this last lustrum!

            2. You seriously need to check out the meaning of the H Word, may I suggest you some dictionary?

          2. @liko41
            Disappointingly my reply has been rejected twice here, after a personal attack from was allowed. Well, good for you. When you resort to this, it’s clear you have ran out of arguemnt.
            I won’t call you a Hamilton f@nb0y because apparently it’s not allowed. And I won’t tell you Hamilton has exactly zero effect on my life.

            1. *personal attack from you
              *ran out of arguments


        2. @paeschli according to Dieter, Vettel was the second highest paid driver in the field in 2019 and had a salary of $30 million, which is not that much cheaper than Hamilton ($35 million) (https://www.racefans.net/2019/03/12/2019-f1-driver-salaries-dont-believe-clickbait/).

          In that respect, Vettel is not “a lot less expensive” – he’s basically nearly as expensive as Hamilton is, so there isn’t really much commercial benefit in hiring him instead.

        3. @paeschli

          Vettel is a lot less expensive than Hamilton and will win the title if paired against Bottas.

          My money is on Bottas if they ever do go against each other in the same machinery.

          1. @todfod
            Based on what exactly?

            Vettel beat Kimi by a significantly bigger margin than Bottas beat Massa by. If we assume that Massa and Kimi are on the same level, that makes Vettel better than Bottas.

            Likewise, Ferrari and Mercedes were fairly equal in 2017 and 2018. Although Vettel was not on the same level as Hamilton those seasons, he was still better than Bottas.

            1. @kingshark

              As you mentioned, the Ferrari and Mercedes were fairly equal in 2018 and 2018… and Vettel finished ahead in 2017 and Bottas in 2018, but Vettel enjoyed a #1 driver treatment at Ferrari, while Bottas was more often than not just playing ‘wing man’ . On equal terms and equal machinery.. my money would still be on Bottas just because he’s had significantly better form over the past 2.5 seasons than Vettel has.

            2. @todfod
              How many points do you think that #1 treatment is worth? I mean, Bottas lost 7 points at Russia 2018 for sure, but what else did he really lose?

              If you really think that Bottas was “in better form” than Vettel in the second half of 2017 and 2018, then that suggests to me that your standards for Bottas are just lower than for Vettel, nothing else.

            3. @kingshark

              It’s not just the number of times that Bottas has played wingman… but also the number of times that Kimi has sacrificed his race to help Vettel get a few more points. Overall, I would think that a #1 driver status over a season has got Vettel at least 20 to 25 points over Bottas.

            4. @todfod
              Bottas’ record against Massa is mediocre though. From 2014-2016, in the 46 races that both Williams drivers finished, Bottas finished ahead 23 times and Massa finished ahead 23 times.

              Bottas just isn’t anything special. He’s a Massa or Webber level driver.

            5. @kingshark

              As I said.. recent form is what I’m taking in to consideration. Vettel wasn’t spectacular in 2014 or 2016 either. He got smashed by Ricciardo and was matched by Kimi in the 2016 season. If we’re talking form over the past two seasons.. I’d have to say Bottas has been better.

      8. The desperation of the British narrative to completely negate the possibility of Vettel moving to Mercedes

        Dieter is not British :)

      9. Why the heck would Hamilton be scared of Vettel? Vettel had at least as good a car as Hamilton in 2018 and Hamilton smashed him. Vettel fans need to wake up to reality

    4. Agreed, dignified retirement seems like preferred option, unless he can go to Mercedes. Sabbatical seems unlikely, especially with this Covid-19 delay and uncertainty of 2020 season. But speaking about perceived worth…Ricciardo did rather well for himself, didn’t he? One would presume that McLaren at least matched whatever Renault paid him…and that was a lot! And speaking of Renault, this may very well lead to (yet another) dismissal of the factory team, and Cyril Abiteboul is the cause. Feel bad for Ocon!

      1. Sadly, even if it is, it doesn’t appear dignified to the outsider.

        It appears as if he’s going home and taking his ball with him, because he’s been shown up again.

        He’s always been fast, but always a poor racer – particularly under pressure.

    5. Everyone is writing about Vettel as if he put himself in a desperate situation. He has been in talks with Ferrari for a long time for a new contract. He has got a big team behind him who wants to get him the best paycheck because in return it pays them. If they didn’t have an alternative plan he wouldn’t have given this decision. This isn’t musical chairs in a 5 year old birthday party, it is a tactical negotiation between grown ups and they wouldn’t corner themselves like everyone writes out to be. For that reason I think he is going to retire. He doesn’t have any options because he doesn’t need one. If he needed one, they could have created one or at least he would have done what Raikonen did and enjoy a few years of racing for less money in a smaller team.

      1. Yes he would create one but witch with team ?
        AlphaTauri, Haas, Sauber or Williams ???

    6. Good article (Very logical) and Alberto above sums it up nicely too!

    7. I can’t help but think Hamilton is indirectly at fault for Vettel’s lack of options. If Hamilton were to move to Ferrari, Mercedes would only settle for Verstappen. Then Vettel and Red Bull would happily work together again.

      1. Yes
        dream on

    8. I would truly love to see Vettel take on Hamilton at Mercedes. It’s unlikely that Hamilton would allow it, and unlikely that Toto would put Bottas out in the cold, since he is is manager, but it would be a great story. Perhaps Mercedes will overrule them both for the chance of having two world champions in their team (and one of them German). One last hurrah for Seb, and a chance to see two great rivals up against each other in equal machinery. The driver pairing with the most WDC’s between them, in history?

      1. LOL! Hamilton had never vetoed a single teammate in his career, why should he with Vettel?

        1. Fred Fedurch
          16th May 2020, 14:49

          “Hamilton had never vetoed a single teammate in his career”

          That you know of.

    9. It’s easy to forget that (COVID-19 willing) there is an entire season to get through until any of this happens. A lot can happen. Bottas could become WDC. Vettel could become WDC. Renault could be challenging for victories. Hamilton could have an absolute stinker. That’s a whole lot of could. Any of these things actually happening would influence further decisions for 2021.

      Vettel may decide that Renault is an attractive proposition for one final push. Mercedes may suddenly find that Hamilton doesn’t want to continue and they need another top tier driver.

      For what it’s worth, I think Vettel would be sorely in the shade of Hamilton at Mercedes or Verstappen at Red Bull… and maybe even Ocon at Renault. That said, I’d love to see him prove me wrong, so I hope he doesn’t retire yet.

      1. @ben-n ”Renault could be challenging for victories.”
        – Extremely unlikely given the stable technical regs and budget cap not coming into effect yet, etc. More like impossible they could’ve found enough lap time and performance since the last race of last season to suddenly challenge Mercedes, Ferrari, and RBR on pure pace. The other examples are more realistic possibilities, though.

        1. The budget cap IS being introduced in 2021, which is the applicable timeframe – and probably at a lower level than previously imposed.

        2. I don’t think so, I find many of those unrealistic, vettel wdc? With an off pace ferrari? If anyone gets wdc on ferrari it’s leclerc, hamilton having a bad season with a dominant car? Like you said renault, I’d be surprised if they got a podium, vettel being needed as a top tier driver at mercedes? Half the grid is better.

    10. Honestly, if Mclaren isn’t even interested in discussing Vettel’s potential to join the team, that’s when you know Vettel’s time is done. He can choose to make up the numbers and maybe move to Aston Martin (where an extremely beatable Stroll awaits), but I really don’t think he’d go for that option.

      Vettel has over achieved with his 4 WDCs in his career. I think it’s incredibly flattering that he’s won as many titles as a legend like Prost, and more titles than Senna, Alonso and Lauda. I think one title would have been enough for someone with his talents… so, he should hold his chin up and just reduce his long fall from grace bye retiring.

      1. @todfod Based on what I read earlier, his rumored move to Mclaren didn’t come true because he wasn’t willing to go to a team where he couldn’t fight for top-positions like he can at his current team, which more or less also makes Renault an unlikely attraction for him not to mention any team further below the grid, so it seems like it’s either Mercedes or nothing for him to keep on racing in F1 beyond the end of this year.

        1. https://www.skysports.com/f1/news/12433/11988785/sebastian-vettel-wasnt-on-mclaren-radar-for-f1-2021-says-zak-brown
          Vettel wasn’t considered on McLaren !
          Why you concider someone who lost to Riccardo in straight fight ?

      2. McLaren cannot afford Vettel.

        1. I suppose mclaren could actually afford vettel but it’s not worth it. Why would you pay a hamilton price for a raikkonen-type driver? At that point get raikkonen himself (he was best at mclaren in his career) or some kind of midfield driver, like ferrari did.

      3. It’s easy to dismiss Vettel’s titles, but Webber was nowhere to be seen in 2010-2013.

        1. Webber was nowhere his entire career, most of his earlier credits were qualifying based or lucking into the odd good finish. I rank Webber hugely overrated, very similar to DC.

          Vettel’s entire reputation was made on that first win and he then had sub par teammates until he came up against Ricciadro and Leclerc. It’s harsh to say it was all about the car because that’s not entirely the case but he has never been one of the all time greats but as clearly made the most of the chances he’s had. It’s worth pointing out many better drivers never took even 1 title despite the opportunity.

          1. @slowmo
            “many better drivers never took even 1 title despite the opportunity.”
            Would you name names, please?

            1. Many? maybe not so many, but obviously Danny Ric and Charles Leclerc have squarely beaten Vettel in the same machinery and are titleless so far. About other drivers, the discussion might be endless and inconclusive, but I’d mention the great Stirling Moss and Didier Pironi, as pretty obvious. Also I would put there Perez and Sainz, but maybe that’s just me.

            2. @liko41 Leclerc may end up in that category and bar his lucky title in 2007 so would Kimi. I did specifically state better drivers that missed out on an opportunity though so it does rule out Alesi, Berger, Herbert (sadly never saw all his talent in F1 due to his accident), etc.

              With that in mind I decided to choose from the drivers listed here

              I chose:

              Massa – He was clearly very fast on both race and qualifying pace and came so close to the title but the accident ruined his career.

              G Villeneuve – Maybe his opportunity came too soon but he did have one but obviously sadly lost too early.

              Stirling Moss – Unquestionably a better driver than a majority of the champions in my book.

              The others in that list are debatable but Jackie Ickx was a shout and maybe Regazzoni. I would also mention Didier Peroni. I’m sure others could add more drivers who were better but just never got that golden chance.

            3. Here you have fatomius
              1 year at McLaren
              6 years at Ferrari
              Just 7 years at Formula 1 !!!

            4. Yes Gilles Villeneuve of course, don’t know how I didn’t mention him. And Jacky Ickx… my memory failed me, on the top of my head I thought he had a title

            5. Jose Lopes da Silva
              16th May 2020, 14:22

              Juan Pablo Montoya and Heinz-Harald Frentzen could have been champions easily if they took on their opportunities like Vettel did first in 2010.

              Montoya could handle Ralf Schumacher, but he could not handle the pre-2007 and pre-single tyre supplier Raikkonen – a driver I suspect no one would have been able to handle that time, maybe not even Michael Schumacher.

              Frentzen could have been champion in 1997. He was highly efficient both in Sauber before and later in Jordan (while he didn’t get lost eventually). He had the best car of the season. But he lost to Villeneuve in both 1997 in 1998…

            6. I was torn on Frentzen, at his best he was pretty stunning but he looked poor in that Williams in 97. Whether he was better than Vettel is probably unlikely but Montoya was probably faster all round and a good shout but had his own mental issues.

          2. Webber beat Rosberg. Rosberg was a rookie, but so was Hamilton when he beat Alonso. The rookie-argument doesn’t hold up often. Ergo, Vettel vs Hamilton is what I want to watch in 2021 to see what happens.

      4. @todfod

        Absolutely agreed when you say Vettel overachieved with 4 titles. I’ve been saying for the last couple years that he has been found out. I’m not saying he’s a poor driver by any means, he’s certainly in the upper echelons, but no better than a Rosberg or Massa. He’s a bit like Jenson, when the car is dialled into his liking, he is effective.

        I doubt he will go to Renault, probably best that he doesn’t. There’s no real point in going there unless he just wants to race in F1. There is also a good chance that he’d be run pretty close by Ocon.

        I will be surprised if he stops racing altogether at this age. He can always do a Fernando, or do a season in IndyCar, which may suit him.

        1. @jaymenon10 the difference with Button is his performance ceiling was higher with the right equipment and his race pace consistency was better. There’s a reason Button beat 3 other WDC’s in the same machinery. Its an easy rhetoric to say Button was lucky but so many forget he did drive alongside Villeneuve, Hamilton and Alonso and beat them many times on merit and never looked outclassed. Vettel only beat Kimi and let’s face it, he’s not the same driver he was 2000-2007. Button is possibly the most underrated driver of the last 20 years and a lot of that seems to be he’s put sword to the myths of some peoples favourite goat drivers.

    11. I’ve never been a fan of Vettel. I’ve always found the 4 titles in a row at Red Bull were a bit too easy, didn’t like the way he used his status against Webber. And I definitively think he botched it at Ferrari in 2017 and 2018.

      But I have to say I’m a little bit sad at how the whole stuff turns out and how he is now perceived.

      After all he is definitively a super fast driver, he did get all those victories and even though I believe these 4 WC titles on par with Prost and ahead of so many legendary 3 times WC sounds too much, I believe he is a deserving world champion.

      I don’t think there is any chance he’ll get that seat at Mercedes, so yeah retirement is probably the best. But I hope to see him winning in another category, potentially adding new records. WEC Seb ?

      1. @HAL I agree with a lot of what you have said here. I too was never really a fan of Seb’s but the longer he has been in F1 the more I have warmed to him as a person. His driving has definitely been pretty average though in the last 3 seasons.

        I would like to see him stay in the sport but he does not really seem to have given himself many options. Maybe he did think another team near the top of the order would be interested but it’s just not worked out that way.

        I still think he might turn up at Renault. However, if he still wants to race I think he might be better off looking outside of F1. Maybe Formula E or WEC? I cannot see him going to Indy.

    12. The sad reality is while at REDBULL and having become four times World Drivers Champion faces a young hot shoe who made Seb vulnerable. Instead of staying in a team where the attention factor began to slip he moved onto to Redder pastures.
      Now four seasons later the attention factor has dried up somewhat with young mister Charlie Clerk now shinning as the star in the Red Car.
      So history repeats itself with Mr.Vettle and he finds himself leaving for the want of “that success” again. It reminds me Of the real Nelson Piquet situation as his ability to secure a number one seat was affected by incoming talent and dice rolling.
      Seb we love you and maybe the light you are seeing is the message that all face. Once you are one of the greatest drivers ever having new teammates that out perform even some of the best ever must be tough to swallow. Walk away now and live life to the fullest. You’ve got a wife and a young family and a lot of money now so there are many reasons to leave the helmet and racing gloves at home.
      Accept your place in history and
      go kick some ass in the WEC or WRC or IndyCar or IMSA. Think you have a ride there with any of these series.

      Formula One has left many drivers behind as youthful exuberance and companies with lots of Bucks want the new face. In 2019 it was Charley Clerk who took that mantel.

      Now Vettle is like Lauda, Prost , Piquet and many others. Kind of forced out while still as one of the best drivers ever.

      Walk away Seb you’ve still got all your parts today and we will always remember what you gave to us as a Formula One race car driver.

      1. Is Vettle his English brother?

        1. His Sister has two French Brothers

          Does that help you?

    13. Arguably, Vettel has not had a top-drawer car since 2013

      I think a few of us will take you up on that argument… A couple of those Ferrari’s have been better than anything Alonso had in his stint!

      1. I think you can find a common theme: what happened since vettel’s last title? Mercedes became the top car, 2014-2020 and maybe beyond, ferrari was only realistically able to challenge it in 2017 (with a clearly worse car) and 2018, pretty even car, you can look into anyone’s record, they won’t have got many wins since 2014 cause it’s been formula mercedes. Having said this I’m not defending vettel, I think he’s been worse than he should’ve been.

        1. @esploratore I personally think Alonso or Hamilton would have won the title with the 2018 and 2019 Ferrari and probably been in with a shout in 2017 too. Mercedes have had a great car every year but Vettel has thrown away far too many points and had Hamilton not been at Mercedes their performance advantage would be less too.

    14. I’m not saying this is what should happen, but it is probably what will happen. Vettel to Alfa Romeo in 2021. Kimi’s contract ends in 2020. Alfa has a strong relationship with Ferrari. Seb started his F1 career with Sauber and because he is both keenly interested in F1 history and it provides a nice symmetry.

      1. So he rejected a Ferrari offer to join Alfa? How does that make sense?

        1. At Ferrari he would have to battle with LEC to be the number 1. He would also be fighting for a world championship. When he comes to the realization that his days of fighting for a WDC are over, he might want a swan song. Alfa would give him number 1 status and allow him to have a farewell tour with no pressure of fighting for a WDC and in the same team he started off with. I think it would probably be a one-and-done season with Alfa.

      2. That would be very interesting, if alfa turnrd their approach to being a b-team into a standard, pairing a newcomer and an experienced champion on his way out of the sport instead of two rookies fighting it off viciously for a chance at the big teams (while that is also a lot of fun to watch, i think it’s not as efficient as having teammates that actually get along well).

    15. For Vettel (and Alonso), it’s not even worth competing unless you have the whole team built around you. On top of that, he must find retirement more appealing than fighting in the mid-field.

      1. The difference is alonso still performs at his best even without that, vettel doesn’t.

        1. Still performs at his best WHERE, exactly?
          I mean, where does alonso NOT have the team completely focused on him?

    16. Why not take the pay cut at Ferrari? He wasn’t going to Merc and he knew he wasn’t to Red Bull so his only chance at winning was Ferrari. Oh yeah, he’s a spoiled toit.

    17. I reckon it’s all about family and kids, Seb’s son was born last November, his third child, later in the season he looked exhausted, a wreck, perhaps at this time he thinks there are more important things in life?

    18. ..’their’ third child

    19. GtisBetter (@)
      15th May 2020, 16:50

      He should become a commentator. He is pretty funny and could give some great insights as an expert.

    20. Dieter Rencken; Racing Lines! 👍
      Everytime I hear those words spoken from Dieter at EVERY single F1 press conference, I know a ‘hard hitting’ question or a question that most are afraid to ask, is coming. I love it. You’re the best journo in the crowd Dieter! A REAL Journo! Please don’t ever change. Much love and respect from 🇨🇦 to 🇩🇪. 👍

    21. To play the devil’s advocate, if Mercedes is as dominant as it has been in the recent past, then they simply need a driver better than Bottas to win both the titles. In that sense, Vettel would fill the role admirably well.

      Vettel is about 3 years younger than Hamilton and if Hamilton commands about $50mn a year, Seb could come at a discount from his Ferrari contract for $20-25mn, saving a tidy sum, besides being appealing to Mercedes because of his nationality.

      I can see Vettel at Mercedes with Hamilton retiring as a distinct, if a bit far-fetched, possibility.

      1. So, in the case Red Bull has a competitive 2020 car, Mercedes with Vettel would end up losing a title battle because they choose to spare 20 millions and forced Hamilton to retire.
        Smaaaaart move, brother.

    22. Gavin Campbell
      15th May 2020, 17:33

      I wonder if Indy Car / LeMans interests Seb – although the team mate aspect might bother him a bit :P

      They both have much shorter seasons with Indy Car only running from March until September (which would probably mean basing himself in America for 6 months of the year), while WEC would only be 6-8 events a year.

      Both would have significantly reduced salaries but wins in either marquee event and/or titles would add to one impressive F1 tally.

      I’m not sure he’d want to take the Rosberg route who seems very happy doing media work and the like, so what does he do in 6 months when he’s bored of the school run?

    23. Vindictive. Retire seb with dignity not because I want you out.

    24. Seb and Kimi take over Sauber as VR Racing and spend two seasons as Gentlemen Racers.

    25. Vettel + Hamilton in a Mercedes it was very cool for F1 entertainment. Both are smart racers, with great respect for each other. There would be great races.

      Ferrari lost more with the departure of Vettel than gained. It will be Binotto’s mistake if the duo Leclerc and Sainz fail. And the duet promises to be very emotionally hot.

      1. Indeed, i can’t see those two being nice to each other, weird choice by Ferrari, not their usual behaviour.

    26. He was working to win the championship for beeps sake, what a stupid action (Brazil 2019), he’s going home.

    27. James Needham
      15th May 2020, 21:22

      F1 isn’t the only discipline in racing and I am pretty sure any LMP1 team would take him, less money but good shot at a prestigious trophy that looks good on any record with winning trophies in other disciplines more likely to gain admirers in the big F1 teams than toddling round the back of grid in an uncompetitive car.

    28. The article is not about the F1, the article is about the author who loves that someone has problems

    29. If Vettel feels like he wants to prove something, he can ask Mercedes to have him for free. I think Alonso did that previously?

    30. Vettel is going to replace Giovinazzi at Sauber and Alonso is going to Renault. This is not official but my prediction, as good as official.

      1. Alonso? Lol. He literally can’t buy a seat in F1 anymore. Give it a rest.

    31. proud_asturian you can contribute many things but right now you should only contribute silence.

    32. Arguably, Vettel has not had a top-drawer car since 2013

      This is nonsense. Did the author not watch 2017 & 2018? Ferrari had title worthy cars in both years. In fact, according to the very reputable AMuS, Ferrari actually had the fastest car in 2018, plus Vettel had far better reliability than Hamilton. Even Keith’s Collatine’s own 2018 analysis on here, showed that there was pretty much nothing to separate the SF71H & W09. This is what Keith wrote

      when Hamilton won the championship at the 19th round of the season in Mexico, Mercedes led Ferrari 10-9 in terms of who had been quickest each weekend.

      And that 10-9 is with Keith wrongly (imo) saying Merc was quicker in Mexico( Merc suffered too much with tyre degradation in Mexico to be classed as better than Ferrari)….

      So, the 2018 Merc & 2018 Ferrari cars were very evenly matched on pace. And let’s remember, that while Hamilton had quite a few reliability issues, Vettel had near bullet-proof reliability.

      In my view, ferrari had the best car of 2018

      1. This will be discussed on and on again. 2017 car was good only on slower tracks like Monaco and Hungaroring and wasn’t a match for Mercedes during most of the season. 2018 was compromised by the aero update Ferrari brought to Singapore – until then Vettel had a realistic shot at Hamilton, sure, he made some mistakes before but after the win at Spa it didn’t look like he’s not able to chase after him. Ferrari was just nowhere at Singapore, Sochi and Suzuka and that cost them a chance to fight for the title.

    33. Dinesh Surandran
      16th May 2020, 3:03

      Give Vettel an equal machinery at Mercedes and I can bet he would beat Hamilton left to right. Mercedes will suit Vettel better and Vettel can clinch another 4 titles. I am very confident

    34. In unfortunate to read the opinions of some “journalists” and fans about Sebastian Vettel.
      And not just now, when his retirement seems imminent.
      Great drivers have always received such mistreatment from those who don’t have a millionth of their talent to drive a Formula 1 racing car.
      But that’s the way it is.
      After the great Michael Schumacher came the great Sebastian Vettel and after Sebastian came the great Louis Hamilton.
      The best drivers of the last 20 years or so.
      Thank you Sebastian and now to enjoy the family!

    35. Luis Miguel Martínez
      16th May 2020, 3:55

      Why is retirement the option? Why is racing in a different series not even mentioned as a possibility.

    36. Helmut Marko is just too invested in his young driver program when he’s willing to pass on all time greats like Alonso and Vettel for some average hopefuls. It’s like a point of honor for him that they do well which Horner has alluded to, but if I was the owner of a top team like that, I would have put my foot down. Vettel is part of the Red Bull family and no one doubts he would outscore Albon, Gasly or Kvyat by a good margin, and help develop the car more than they ever could.

    37. Jose Lopes da Silva
      16th May 2020, 14:35

      Formula 1 rates drivers according to the entirety of their careers, unlike football when we only consider the top performances and the top years. This is why Schumacher loses some of his legend due to the Mercedes stint. Piquet the same because of the post Imola-87 seasons. In light of this, history won’t be kind to Vettel.

      I get this feeling because I always felt it. Vettel became a 4-time champion before we witnessed the awesome and extreme performances (qualifying, rain, awesome race sprints, etc.) usually associated of multiple champions like Senna and Schumacher. Those things that make us dream. Even Prost, the rational professor, could show us those kind of moments: Japan 87, Mexico 90 and his overall ruthlessness and efficiency in itself.

      Even Jacques Villeneuve delivered things like these. In Australia/96 when I beat Hill instantly. And in Portugal/96 when he came from fourth to going round the outside on Schumacher in an impossible maneouvre and then to beat Hill and keep his chances alive.

      Vettel rarely made us dream like this. How many races has he won while not starting from the front row?

      Nonetheless, Vettel made the most of the opportunities he had, and that’s what’s supposed to do in Formula 1. We can’t take his 4 titles back – unless we buy the usual conspiracy stories about a team that mistreated Webber but, miraculously, did not mistreat Ricciardo.

      Vettel was efficient in 2010 when Alonso wasn’t – people kindly forget that Alonso was nowhere in Abu Dhabi 2010. Vettel collected victories in 2011 when his teammate was almost never in second place. Why?
      And, again, he was efficient in 2012. So, kudos for an illustrious career.

      Many people today still believe that Maradona was better than Pele, Ronaldo and Messi, although he was pretty much finished once he reached 30 years old.

      1. Jose Lopes da Silva, to some extent, not that many drivers have consistently won when not being on the front row of the grid – the fact that 76% of all races in F1 history have been won by one of the two drivers starting on the front row shows how heavily weighted most races were towards those two drivers.

        To answer your question, I believe that Vettel has won 6 out of his 53 races from outside the front row – 2010 Malaysian GP, 2012 Singapore GP, 2015 Hungarian GP, 2017 Bahrain GP, 2018 Australian GP and 2019 Singapore GP. In all six of those races, Vettel started in third place on the grid.

        Whilst it is true that Vettel has never won a race from lower than third place on the grid, that’s a criticism that can be levelled against most drivers, as even drivers hailed as greats rarely won from outside the front few grid slots. Out of his 41 wins, Senna only won twice from lower than third place on the grid; similarly, Michael Schumacher also managed it just three times in the course of his 91 victories.

        If you want to look for a driver who consistently won despite not qualifying that far up the grid, Alain Prost is your driver – a fifth of his victories came from outside the front two rows of the grid, and I believe he’s the only multiple WDC to have achieved more than 10 victories from outside the front two rows.

        1. Jose Lopes da Silva
          17th May 2020, 1:07

          I’ve came to recognise Prost talent over the years. The man was amazing behind the wheel.

    38. He won 4 in a row with a far smaller car advantage that Hamilton had 2014-17 at Mercedes.

      Webber beat Rosberg when they were in the same team.

      I actually think Vettel is one of the unluckiest drivers going around. It seems like every tiny mistake he makes is magnified by having the worst possible outcome.

      Singapore 2017 in my opinion wasn’t even his fault yet he’s lumped with the blame to this day.

      Look at Germany 2018, Vettel gets stuck in the gravel trap after a slow speed error in greasy conditions. Yeah, made a mistake for sure.

      But Germany 2019, Verstappen has a big spin early in the race but carried on with no damage, Leclerc crashes out, Hamilton slides into the barrier but no suspension damage and the pit entry is 20 metres away rather than having to go around the circuit with a damaged wing, Hamilton had a massive spin at turn 1 with no damage.

      Meanwhile, Vettel holds it together though and finishes second after starting from the back of the grid. But all anyone can talk about is Germany 2018.

      Canada 2019, yeah made a mistake, but no different to Hamilton Monaco 2016 where he made a mistake but chopped Ricciardo in order to maintain the lead and win the race. Ricciardo had to jump on his brakes to avoid a collision.

      In 2018 you had a sequence of spins like at Monza and Suzuka where he would ever so slightly touch another car sending him into a race ruining spin. Yes, shouldn’t be touching but we see drivers get away with contact like that all the time.

      Brazil last year, yes shouldn’t have moved over like that, but again it seemed like the worst possible outcome for such slight contact. How many times do we see cars scrape walls and carry on?

    39. Arguably, Vettel has not had a top-drawer car since 2013.

      How revisionist. I suppose 2017 and 2018 never happened.

    40. I’d say Mercedes.

      Or RedBull.

      He has one year to do it. Then there is retirement, running for FIA presidency, etc. He has done more than most in F1.

      If he wants to do anything he has not, then he must beat Lewis in equal car.

    41. I like Sebastian Vettel. He always has something to say to the media and comes across as approachable and has a personality that adds to the entertainment value. I remember when Mika Hakkinen retired back in 2001 I was devastated, I felt he still had more to give and had retired too young. At that time, Michael Schumacher was in his pomp in a car that was superior to everything else on the grid, much like with Hamilton and Mercedes. Nearly two decades later it is clear that Hakkinen made the right choice, and although Vettel has different reasons if he does indeed retire, it would be the right choice.
      In an earlier post, a fella said that Vettel’s Ferrari career was over following last year’s disastrous Brazilian Grand Prix and his crash with Charles Leclerc. I agree, in my opinion, that incident cemented minds at Maranello that Leclerc was the future and Vettel was the past.
      If reports are true, Vettel was on a salary of $30 million a year. $30 million is a lot of money for the amount of mistakes Sebastian was making, and Brazil was the perfect example of that. Maybe deep down, even then, Sebastian may have already known that his number was up. He is not stupid, he has been in the sport of F1 long enough to know how things work, and to know when a team is
      preparing to dump you. If Vettel goes, it will be a sad moment for the fact that it will be another champion retiring. However, in my opinion, retirement has more dignity in it than staying as Vettel was in a team that had clearly decided that he was past news.

    42. Andrew Wilson (@onedollarwilliam)
      17th May 2020, 3:23

      I’ve mentioned this in previous comments about Seb’s 2019 performance, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him transition to a team principal position somewhere (presumably not in F1, at least in the 2021 season). Over the course of his career Seb has repeatedly demonstrated his interest in every element of racing: working on his cars with the pit crew, crunching numbers with engineers, learning Italian to better communicate with the head office. Maybe Seb is looking to a future less like Schumacher and more like Todt.

    43. I was often very disappointed with Vettel, because it seemed although he is a naturally gifted driver, he did not put enough emphasis on improving his mindset, e.g. by hiring decent coaches to help him become less prone to errors and tantrums. In many ways it seems he wasted some of his talent this way.

      At the same time, it feels the way he was treated was not fully deserved. He came to Ferrari with 100% commitment and passion, and worked hard to rebuild the team – only to be dropped like a hot potato after 2 years of underperformance.

    44. Sadly I think you are correct Dieter, and I agree there would be no shame in a retirement.

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