Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

Vettel explains frustration with Ferrari’s conflicting radio calls

2020 Spanish Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel explained his frustration with Ferrari’s strategy after finishing seventh in the Spanish Grand Prix despite disagreement on his radio about the team’s choice of tactics.

Ferrari initially told Vettel to increase his pace during his second stint, then asked him whether he could make his tyres last until the end without pitting again.

In a terse exchange with his team on the radio, Vettel told them he could manage to complete the race without pitting again.

“It’s quite simple, we didn’t have anything to lose,” he explained after the race. “We were 11th and I think we were trying to offset [against rivals on strategy] to the end of the race.

“We were catching the cars in front, then they pitted for their second stop. But I was not in a rush to catch them, and managing the tyres.

“Then I was told to push, which I did. Then I was told to make it to the end, or asked if I could make it to the end, and then I said, ‘well, you could have asked that three laps before’. Because I’d asked a couple of times, what’s the target, how long we want to go, so that I can look after my tyres. I said we’d try to make it.”

Vettel was able to hold on to the finish, despite falling from fifth to seventh.

“The last five laps were really, really difficult,” he said. “It helped that we got lapped, to be honest – it’s not always the case, but today it was.

“Obviously we took that risk because we had nothing to lose and it did pay off. It wasn’t the plan before the race to do close to 40 laps on the soft tyre.”

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Vettel’s radio exchange over his strategy

To VettelWhat do you think about going to the end with these tyres?
VettelOh for fuck’s sake. I asked you this before. Now I’ve been pushing for three laps.
To VettelYeah I understand, we are just checking.
VettelIt depends, yeah. It depends. How many laps to go?
To Vettel16 laps and we think to be five laps short.
VettelWhat’s the pace of the other people that stopped?
To Vettel22.6
VettelOK here’s the task for you. 22.6 to the end and then what do I have to do to stay ahead?
To VettelI’ll come back to you.
To VettelA 23.4, 23.5 to the end.
VettelI can do, I can do that. We can try, we’ve got nothing to lose.
To VettelWe are P5. That’s what I was asking for.

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

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79 comments on “Vettel explains frustration with Ferrari’s conflicting radio calls”

  1. Feel for Seb. Binotto now is saying that henis frustrated because he’s leaving .. what a way to disrespect a driver that carried the team for so long …

    1. I hope Binotto gets sacked soon. Would like to see Briatore as team boss. The guy is a lunatic. Probably a disgrace to the sport. But he knows how to build and lead a team.

      1. Briatore has a permanent life-ban so I don’t even know why journos keep giving him time to share his thoughts…(and no, there is no way in hell he will be managing Ferrari lol)

        1. he appealed and it got over turned :)

        2. I have no opinion about if Briatore should or shouln’t return to F1, but his ban was overturned in 2010 (https://www.racefans.net/2010/01/05/flavio-briatore-wins-appeal-against-lifetime-ban-from-motorsport/). Technically he could return tomorrow if somebody hires him.

        3. His ban was overruled in court. He is eligible for a job in F1.

          1. Still he is banned to enter the paddock. When he leads a team every one would prostest as he is still banned by FIA rules so which team is going to employ him?

          2. @spafrancorchamps
            Why on earth he would comeback to F1 when the guy earns lots of millions from his luxury resorts, restaurants, clubs… businesses (at least that what we know) and he is busy dating teenage girls ?

    2. @fer-no65

      what a way to disrespect a driver that carried the team for so long

      Carried..? He blew their opportunities to win a championship in 2017 and 2018 and break Ferrari’s decade long drought. I wouldn’t call that ‘carrying’. He failed the team .. and now the team is failing him. Quid pro quo.

      1. Yes, vettel is normally a disaster, at least in the last few years, I think 2017 wasn’t that bad, and given the same car as hamilton he’d have been up there, then hamilton stepped up and vettel down (regardless of the car they were given), but in this particular race he drove well, did what he had to do both times.

      2. They failed Alonso and Vettel failed them.

        1. You’re delusional , guys.

  2. Seems like Ferrari had no coherent strategy for Vettel – he did 28 laps in the opening stint on mediums and then 38 on softs, in what world does that make any sense? Thought he was going to easily get overtaken by Albion, Gasly and Norris in the last few laps but he hung in there. Definitely his best drive of the season, despite the awful strategy he was given!

    1. The strategy was “Nobody expects this!”
      (no matter the result
      :D

    2. The same pit stop as leclerc was to keep lecrelc in front of vetted.

    3. EXACTLY!
      What’s the bleeding point in starting an alternative strategy and then double stack a pit stop at the 30th lap? Had he stayed out for 5 more laps he could have lapped way fast to the flag and maybe grab a 5th but a 6th place surely.

      1. Andre Furtado
        17th August 2020, 3:13

        This is the biggest proof that Ferrari will lose points on purpose to make leclerk look better than he is.

        1. This sounds like a conspiracy theory but I can understand Ferrari trying to avoid a conflict, as if Vettel was to stay on longer Leclerc would have had to pass him on track. No one at Ferrari needs that extra levels of stress in their lives these days:D

    4. Vettel wanted to change away from the Medium tyre, because he had trouble following the guys in front.
      In the beginning even Kvyat threatened from behind. Kvyat then undercut him.

      He asked: “Is there a gap we can pit into?”
      Pitwall: “In one lap.”
      Then he came in after Leclerc for the double stack pitstop to the Soft tyre.

      That part went really well!

  3. LoL…. I just comment on Max article that there’s no way to discuss tyres strategies like a zoom meeting during the race.

    And here I found a driver and the team that hate each other can discuss math back and forth and collectively made decision together in the end.

  4. Btw, that’s a great Vettel train picture.

  5. He did not spin, ergo obviously candidate for Driver-of-the Day.

  6. To me it looked like they remembered he is in the race only when Charles retired…

    He didn’t consider quitting Ferrari sooner, but I think he should consider it now.

    No point in such a relationship.
    He wanted to prove something, and I think with his drive today he already did. No need to stay any longer

  7. Another great race for Vettel. With a dog car and a team lost in politics he was the driver of the day one more time. He deserves a better car.

  8. I think the strategy was fine. And it is perfectly fine to change strategy midway and hence give different instructions to the drivers (in this case a 2 stop got converted to 1 stop and hence Vettel was told to maintain tyres instead of pushing).
    Some of the most famous wins have come because of such mid race strategy changes (Hamilton in Hungary 2019, Vettel himself in Bahrain 2018, to name a couple).

    Overall, it was actually a great drive by Seb and a great strategy by Ferrari which netted them 7th instead of 10th.

    But the mental space that Vettel is in right now, he is just gonna focus on the negative aspect of such a situation. The positive vibe (if any) generated via such a result will probably stay for no more than a couple of weekends given current Vettel – Ferrari relations.

    1. What rubbish take is this?

      Ferrari messed his strategy up why in the world was he given a used set of softs and not a new one?

      28 laps on medium then 39 laps on the softs.
      Also why stop him on the same lap as Leclerc?

      Ferrari tried to knee cap him and it backfired on the team as this race shows the extent of the dysfunction in that team right now!

      1. Ferrari messed his strategy up why in the world was he given a used set of softs and not a new one?

        It is clear that they were thinking of a 2 stop strategy then but switched their mind to a 1-stopper. Like I said, I don’t think changing strategy is a sign of incompetence or malice. It is possible that the wear was lesser than expected on the used softs resulting in a changed strategy.

        28 laps on medium then 39 laps on the softs. Also why stop him on the same lap as Leclerc?

        Should he have done more on mediums and less on softs then? Look no further than Daniel Ricciardo in this very race. He did 6 laps more on medium and 6 laps less on softs. He was 1.2 seconds behind Seb (and no cars in between) before Seb’s stop but finished 3.2 seconds behind Seb and with 3 cars in between. On a track where overtaking is difficult, the undercut and track position are more important than optimizing tyre stints to tyre life.

        The only mistake Ferrari made was asking Seb to push for 3 laps and then changing their mind. 3 laps of higher push didn’t make him any more vulnerable to the cars behind him as overtaking is extremely difficult in Barcelona anyways.

        Overall, it was a great strategy by Ferrari and a very good drive by Seb on a new chassis (given by the same team that supposedly tried to ‘knee cap’ him). It is just unfortunate that fans aren’t able to see the positives on this.

        1. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
          17th August 2020, 6:47

          No way Ferrari went on to that strategy on purpose. They just wanted to keep vetted behind leclerc; sheer coincidence that it turned out to be the right strategy in the end, considering overtaking is next to impossible here.

          1. Look at the lap charts. Charles was 8 seconds ahead of Seb when they both pitted. If Seb was not pitted then, Charles would have been around 10-12 seconds behind Charles and the moment of Charles passing Seb on track would have occurred at least 8-10 laps later. Seb’s pit stop would have definitely occurred before that point as his tyres would be severely worn.

            Further, look at the lap charts; Seb’s pit stop meant he came out in clean air, no one ahead of him for 7 seconds (Kvyat). Charles came out in complete dirty air with Ocon, Albon, Gasly, Norris all in the 3 seconds ahead of him and Kvyat 1 second behind him.

            In fact, from lap 30 to lap 35 (when Charles retired); Seb cut the gap to Charles from 8 seconds to 3 seconds exactly because of this dirty air. The timing of the pit stop was far worse for Charles than Seb.

        2. Why are you conflating issues on the mediums Vettel was faster than Ricciardo so I don’t get the comparison.

          Also you use your new tyres first why use used tyres in the middle stint if he was going for a two stop strategy?

          1. Why are you conflating issues on the mediums Vettel was faster than Ricciardo so I don’t get the comparison.

            Look at the lap charts. The gap between Vettel and Ricciardo peaked at 4.7 seconds on lap 21. After that, Daniel was faster than Seb on every lap until Seb’s pit-stop (Gap on lap 27 – 1.3 seconds). So, no; Vettel wasn’t faster than Ricciardo on mediums.

            Also you use your new tyres first why use used tyres in the middle stint if he was going for a two stop strategy?

            This, I agree with. Using new tyres would have allowed for later flexibility to choose between a 1 and 2 stopper. Unless, there is something better about once-used-then-cooled tyres that we don’t know about, Vettel should have been put on new tyres.

            However, given that the tyre set held on quite well even after it went through 3 laps of qualifying and 3 ‘push’ laps; how much incremental juice could Seb have got from a brand new set. It is difficult to estimate that. In the end he was 13 seconds behind Sainz who overtook him on lap 59 (6 laps from end), I would wager on Sainz being able to get ahead of Vettel even if Vettel had those newer tyres and hence, I don’t think there was any loss of points due to that strategy choice by Ferrari.

    2. Vettel asked many laps earlier what plan they were on and got no response.
      He was their only driver on the track for a good two fifth of the race and they had no idea what to do with his strategy.
      You would think Ferrari were already back at the hotel when he radioed in to check their plan.

      1. VET: So what’s the plan? Are we one stopping?
        Ferrari: NEW PHONE WHO DIS

      2. And then you see those videos from James Vowles (strategist at Mercedes) where he shows how they have a dashboard showing real time data about “what if we keep this tire”, “what if we change”, “how is other people doing on new tires”, “what would be the optimal lap to pit”, etc. He talks about how they can react quickly to other drivers strategies by looking at actual data (example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_0mmOvS4X4 reacting to Ricciardo pit).

        I refuse to think they don’t have a similar equipment at Ferrari, continuously doing simulations of multiple “what ifs” just in case.

  9. A bit off topic but staying on Ferrari, just realised that there are so many talented Ferrari academy drivers in the F2 now. But the team is nowehere with the car.

  10. Good that for once he had a good race in that car. He is obviously not happy with the team and will be lucky to finish in such positions for the rest of the year. Ferrari, although my favourite team, has really messed it up by handling Seb in this way. He deserves much better. It seems they don’t even provide him with a good strategy these days. Even today they actually did not not have a plan for him, instead seeing how the race pans out and then made decisions.

  11. I get the impression that he got driver of the day as people feel that in addition to fighting all the other drivers, he also had to fight his own team… which must be tough.

    He’s not the best driver out there, but he’s good, and deserves better!

    1. +1. Other drivers compete against 19 drivers and 9 teams. Seb fights against 19 drivers and 10 teams.

    2. I’m of two minds on this. First I agree that Ferrari didn’t do him right today. He did pretty well in that car. I’m not sure LeClerc strategy and drive would have been any better.

      On the other hand he just shouldn’t talk to the team that way. It is intense and everything, and most drivers seem to have some outbursts. But I think for 20 to 30 million a year he can at least not berate the team on the radio.

      Besides, other four time world champions have been fired from Ferrari for similar behavior. he needs to take a deep breath and be the best driver he can till the end of the season.

      1. @slotopen Why should he? and getting fired didn’t do Prost or his legacy any harm, instead it’s served as an example for the disfunctional mess that is (most of the time) ferrari ever since, and rightly so. Its not like its an honour to drive a subpar dog of a car while the team makes sure they don’t look like they axed the wrong driver.

      2. @slotopen so basically if one is getting paid handsomely, they should not say anything even if the employer is treating them like crap?

        1. @knightameer

          I’m having a hard time envisioning how berating his team makes things any better. Also I try not to have my fights in public.

          1. How did he berate the team?

            The fact that as soon as Leclerc retired Ferrari started packing up the garage tells you all you need to know.

  12. Good drive Seb

  13. Vettel sounded bitter, very bitter.

    1. Vettel to Frank Williams.
      Give me $8 mill & my car at the end of the year & I will bring sponsors & get the car sorted!

  14. Ferrari foregot about Vettel and he ended up in seventh place; I surmise Williams would be overjoyed with seventh place but are Ferrari high-fiving themselves with this result?

  15. On Dutch tv there was a rumour told Spa will be Seb’s last race and that he’s got a big contract for ‘22. Anyone?….

    1. Yeah, I’ve read somewhere that his Aston Martin contract is going to be announced. But from the next year already.

  16. So they switched from a strategy that looked to end poorly to one that ended better. Vettel was left puzzled for a while while the team was figuring out what to do. Big deal.

    1. had he pitted 5 laps later, he’d be 5th at minimum.

      1. had he pitted 5 laps later, he’d be 5th at minimum.

        How so?
        Ricciardo did exactly what you are saying – started on mediums, extended that stint by 6 laps compared to Seb and then switched to softs. Daniel was 1.5 seconds behind Seb on lap 28 (one lap before Seb pits). At the end of the race, Daniel was 3.2 seconds behind Seb, but there were 3 other cars in between which meant he finished 11th instead of 7th.

        So no, Ferrari didn’t botch his strategy and no points were lost because of the strategy.

  17. That’s two back-to-back stories about Vettel’s behaviour on the car radio which doesn’t come across well for a respectable site. Especially so as others had bigger outbursts and questions about tyre strategy like Verstappen almost shouting and Hamilton practically refusing the planned compound, the latter predictably a no-story with no explanation needed.

    1. @balue Indeed Hamilton’s deciscion to go for the mediums should have been presented as a hero story, but it was ignored. Verstappen and Vettel’s tantrums both got attention though.

      1. @f1osaurus You prove my point. If you dispute or want to override the team’s strategy calls, you are angry and upset and need to explain yourself to the media, with Hamilton it’s a non-topic or a hero story. This kind of view is all too typical for Hamilton fans, but is not something one should expect from respectable F1 sites.

        1. @balue You are just reading what you want to read. While not thinking clearly because you are doing exactly what you claim others are. Your fandom is clearly clouding your mind.

          The trigger is the toxicity of how Verstappen and Vettel were interacting with their team. While Hamilton simply asked for other tyres.

          Besides, Verstappen was wrong. He would have most likely lost the position if they had listened to him.

          Vettel also has his team to thank for getting P5 when the team figured they might go for a one stop. So yes they made a strategy switch which could confuse a driver, but it was for the better.

          While Hamilton actually saved his race by making a better decision than the team. He would have most likely lost the race had he accepted the softs. Bottas had a horrible time on those tyres.

          So for starters, Hamilton is a hero for doing better than the team. While Verstappen and Vettel both have their team to thank for not losing positions.

          The there is the fact that Hamilton acted professionally while Verstappen and Vettel acted incredibly unprofessional. Totally deserved that those two receive backlash for that. Although Vettel wasn’t that bad since in the end (after all the negativity) he at least understood and accepted the team advice.

  18. János (@meandthewanderlust)
    16th August 2020, 21:10

    Red Bull should put Vettel in their 2nd car.

    He knows the team, they know him, and nobody else is coming close to Max anyway.

    Might as well put an experienced and respected driver in there…

    1. “ok, there’s the task for you”… This is a huge indictment of Ferrari’s pitwall. I understand that Vettel is probably not into it (or not comfortable with the car) but this exchange reflects really badly on Ferrari. He fed them the solution while driving. I believe they should already have the answer a lap or two earlier and given him his target on the first exchange. I’d be livid if I were head of performance at Ferrari.

      1. Yes, it’s the only driver/team combination where the driver is the main driver of strategy calls.

        In other teams, drivers either follow orders blindly or suggest other strategies only on rare occasions (Max at the 70th anniversary GP and Lewis yesterday)

    2. Max will destroy him I’m afraid. He is just a bit better than Vettel. Knows the car a lot better. And knows the team better.

  19. Did anyone else catch that the tyres they put on at his first stop was a set he ran in Q2? (ie used tyres) when he had a new set… lol

    1. You’re not joking are you?

    2. Ok I don’t know if there’s a genuine reason for this, but I’ll try one I’ve heard previously. Sometimes after running a tyre for a couple of laps, then letting it cool off, the compound hardens a bit and can become slightly more durable than a fresh set would be. I’ve not heard this situation discussed recently but it used to be the case a few years ago, so it could potentially be a reason for using a ‘scrubbed’ set of softs over a new set. Or it could be Ferrari incompetence…

      1. @keithedin funny story, that, back in the Ferrari heyday, this was quite common. I remember it being so much part of the ecosystem that video games adapted to it.

        I haven’t heard much about it, since, though, at least not in F1. Sometimes I hear about sticker vs. scuffs in Indycar, though.

    3. Oh yeah most people missed this part.

      Hence he did 39 laps on that set of tyres!

      The worst part he told Ralf Schumacher they still allow him in meetings for discussion of the car updates as they still need his input!

  20. John Elkann’s words hang heavy above this team.

  21. Iain Appleyard
    16th August 2020, 23:11

    The difference is Max and Lewis are driving brilliantly and extracting the maximum potential from their cars.
    Seb is not!

  22. No need to read something into nothing. The parameters of the situation changed, hence the math changed, hence the optimal strategy changed. And in the spur of the moment, Vettel was understandably miffed about that. The fact that most people here can only see malice says more about those people than about Ferrari and Vettel.

    1. @aesto if only a team such as Ferrari would have the computing power to be able to answer a question about pace within 7 minutes, and then even the correct answer, at that.

      1. Is there supposed to be an argument hidden somewhere in that sarcasm?

      2. @neiana Wasn’t this settled in one or two few laps? That’s much less than 7 minutes.

  23. I’ve always been a Vettel fan but he’s always had a selfish streak and been quite emotional.

    For years he was basically hated (especially by Hamilton fans) and mocked. Remember the constant booing when he was winning (despite having nothing like the Mercedes advantage since 2014)?

    Yet now everyone is defending and feeling sorry for him. Is it because people are trying to sink the boot into Ferrari?

    Fact is, Vettel has been beaten fair and square by Leclerc. Basically has no answer for Leclerc. Not only that but Vettel makes constant errors. Not to mention ignored a team order back in Sochi, crashed into Leclerc in Brazil. Last year proved that Vettel and Leclerc weren’t going to play nice together so Ferrari naturally went with the younger and faster driver.

    Ferrari have been well within in their rights to not extend his contract.

    Ferrari aren’t doing anything wrong. Obviously Vettel won’t be privy to the same information as Leclerc since he is leaving the team in a few months, so he has to get used to that.

    I feel like Vettel has been blowing everything out of proportion in order to engineer some kind of feud with the team in order to create an excuse for his poor performances. Basically what Ricciardo was doing when Max started blowing him away consistently.

    I find it funny how people are suddenly sympathetic to Vettel after they spent years rubbishing him.

    1. Agreed, but Vettel was booed because of the dirty tricks he played on Webber, not because he was winning.

      Also in Ricciardo’s defense, when he signed for Renault he did see a massive surge in car issues. he won two races in the first half of the season and after signing for Renault he barely made it to the finish

      1. “Agreed, but Vettel was booed because of the dirty tricks he played on Webber, not because he was winning.”

        There were no dirty tricks. He smashed Webber fair and square. Ignoring multi-21 no different to Hamilton ignoring a team order at Hungary 2014 costing his team victory.

        Name me the dirty tricks. Alonso wasn’t booed for having Massa move over for him, Hamilton wasn’t booed for having Bottas move over for him.

        Ricciardo ran from a fight. Verstappen was starting to really crush Ricciardo in 2018. Ricciardo basically ended his competitive F1 career at the end of 2018.

        1. ROFL. There were plenty dirty tricks. Crashing into Webber in Turkey. Stealing the place when told to hold station and tune down the engine. Taking Webber’s front wing after destroying his own. etc etc etc

          Ricciardo didn’t run from a fight. Not from a fair one at least. He saw how Webber ended up crippled after the team vowed to make Vettel their #1 driver. In 2009 and 2010 Webber was competitive enough. He wasn’t that great a driver to begin with, but also with the amount of blunders that Vettel makes, Webber was keeping up and even leading Vettel. From 2011 he suddenly wasn’t even close anymore.

          Ricciardo had been beating Verstappen more than vice versa before he signed with Renault. He had had 2 wins in 2018. Yes his fans like to say Verstappen would always win if he had the fastest car, but usually Ricciardo would beat him to it.

          Anyway, despite Ricciardo performing better, Red Bull were gambling on Verstappen’s potential in a couple of years when (if) he finally matures and stated they would build the team around Verstappen.

          So yeah Ricciardo then knew he’d be “crushed” by #2 treatment. Apart from Webber also Gasly and Albon can attest to what it means to the #2 driver at Red Bull.

          After signing for Renault suddenly Ricciardo didn’t finish a single time ahead of Verstappen anymore. If his car made it to the finish at all.

          1. Crashing into Webber in Turkey. – Crashing out of the race? Huge trick indeed…
            Stealing the place when told to hold station and tune down the engine. – Payback for the great support he got from Webber just 2 races earlier at the season finale in Brazil.
            Taking Webber’s front wing after destroying his own. – Webber didn’t like the new wing any better than the old one until there was only one of them left, Vettel was much happier with the new one so it was a logical decision from a team point of view.

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