Vettel: No other team has this big a gap between cars

2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel said the gap between him and Charles Leclerc in qualifying remains “a mystery” after failing to join his team mate in Q3 again at the season finale.

Over the 17 races this year Vettel has only reached the final round of qualifying on three occasions, while Leclerc has done so 11 times. Today Leclerc was quicker on the harder, medium compound tyres than Vettel was on the softer rubber. He will start ahead of Vettel tomorrow despite taking a three-place grid penalty.

Vettel said he was “quite happy” with his final run in Q2 and didn’t think his car could go much quicker.

“Obviously it’s a mystery why there’s such a big delta between the cars. I don’t think anywhere in the pit lane there’s such a big delta.

“But I was happy with my quali and my laps. For sure you always feel there’s a little bit. Maybe a tenth if you put everything into account but let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”

“I would have loved to be higher up, but it didn’t quite work,” he added. “It was a good session. I’m happy with myself, not happy with the results, but it’s been like this many times this year.”

Vettel will start his final race as a Ferrari driver this weekend. “It will be emotional tomorrow,” he admitted. “Especially with the mechanics, the guys in the garage.

“Obviously, in terms of results, it’s not really a high. So I’m looking forward to seeing the chequered flag.”

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2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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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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41 comments on “Vettel: No other team has this big a gap between cars”

  1. They will be both happy to split, just like when Mercedes finally. Ditch Bottas after. His failed 5 title fights.

    Vettel is amongst the greatest qualifiers in the hisgory. His good lap was nowhere near Leclerc.

    These new guys, Verstappen, Russel, Leclerc must be seriusly quick.

    Who knows how Vettel will do after the change.

    1. Well at least Bottas seems to be able to trust his engineers and talks with the boss @jureo, and his car is obviously same spec barring individual setup choices.

      I don’t know what’s going on with Ferrari apart from them clearly not really seeming to care about whatever happens to Vettel (though better results might have given them 5-3rd chances), and I find it hard to believe they would sabotage him, but I do think he’s a confidence driver that works best when he feels appreciated (most people do) and clearly this year not a lot is working well on that side of the garage, like how the bad pit stops almost always go to him, it is just comedy of errors (the bad strategy that’s 2nd Ferrari driver MO, just ask Kimi, or Massa when next to Alonso, but they don’t even make the most of those). Vettel certainly isn’t doing the best he has to offer there either, even if ultimately Leclerc is the faster guy (bit like 2014, but much worse both sides ;)

      Have to agree, some will miss him there I am sure, but it really will be a relieve for both sides to have it end.

    2. Odd if VET suddenly has lost the ability to race. The question remains – why is he slow?

      1. He lost all kinds of confidence, car does not suit him, and Leclerc is totally outperforming the car.

        Team relations have descended from previous lows.

      2. Was he ever really a good driver? I say no. A single lap, clear track wonder? Yes. Look at the ratio first row starts vs his wins. A soon as he starts from second row or beyond, his chances of winning decreases dramatically.

  2. Can’t help it, but that picture reminds me of a song (by Muddy Waters), which would in this case apply to Vettel and Ferrari (him about his car):

    “I got my mojo working, it just don’t work on you…”.

    1. nice one @txizzle, that’s a good caption-song for that pic indeed!

      1. And for his whole season, really.

    2. Coventry Climax
      12th December 2020, 17:06

      That’s what being a great driver is all about, really, apart from driver skills; getting your mojo to work on even the toughest and most stubborn of things or people that seem to be against you.

  3. It will be refreshing seeing Seb drive for a new team next year, he is still a great driver and having confidence from surely being quite a bit quicker than Stroll may do wonders for him mentally. He still has some miles left in him.

    1. Jakob Levesen
      13th December 2020, 5:44

      Sep is still a great driver? Where is the facts to back that up? FOr the last 5 years he has made a high amount of misjudgements and mystik loves when the heat is on in the races. No, he is over the top, he is gone and I struggle to see, why he would suddenly reappear as a fantastic driver next year. It will not happen, what you will see, is a weak Vettel with lots of excuses and wonders why he is so slow (like now). They only want him in the team for marketing reasons, he will be out the following year.

  4. I was a huge mystery to me the gap when Leclerc was in the Sauber. I guess Ferrari will never tell.

    1. I remember how Ericsson said it was strange how Leclerc could gain so much time on the straights.

    2. I just posted this, based on first-hand information:
      ” The thing under you, Champ, is a pig.
      Leave that pig to where it belongs and move on!
      Ferrari has used engine setting and mode tricks before, e.g. boosting Chuck’s engines against Ericsson once Marcus showed faster…”
      Marchionne’s favored son had to look better!

  5. MB (@muralibhats)
    12th December 2020, 17:27

    From an ambitious kid winning in Monza, becoming a world champion, battles with Webber, getting tad arrogant, jumping ship to emulate his idol, winning some and loosing many.. and to come to this low point – his self realization and honest reviews and opinions – has given him a distinct character which stands apart from the rest of the grid. A champion is not formed until you raise from the lows – thats when the entire world knows you at your worst and can appreciate your greatness once you lift up.

    I used to not like him in his Red Bull days but Ferrari for once may have helped shaped a champion without winning it on track. Time will see what Vettel does in coming years, but its a refreshing change.

    1. Fantastic comment. Vettel has grown as a character and I like him a lot more for it. I never enjoyed his RB days but I hope he has some success at AM.

    2. honest reviews and opinions – has given him a distinct character which stands apart from the rest of the grid

      I would really like to know where this view comes from. I see this all the time. “Seb is a class-act”, “Seb being wholesome as always”, “how can anyone not like this guy?”

      Did everyone just wake up?

      This is the guy who demands team orders (“get him out of the way”) and defies it when roles are reversed (“tough luck!”). The guy who screamed “F* YOU!” at the race director, the guy who actively drove his car into a competitor behind the safety car. The guy who always blames the other driver first in a crash and only admits his own fault days later if at all. The guy who overtakes his team mate when being told to hold position and then sends his lawyers(!) to ensure nobody ever speaks about it ever again. The guy who acted like a 2-year old in a supermarket candy isle when he felt mistreated.

      He stands apart from the rest of the field alright. But for all the wrong reasons.

      Sorry for the rant but I swear, I have no idea how Seb’s positive image on the internet has even formed.

      1. How it has formed to Verstappen?? the same way dude..

      2. MB (@muralibhats)
        12th December 2020, 21:15

        This year it seems to have got better of him.

      3. Here here kuvemar. The minute he starts winning again his arrogance will shine through again.!

      4. @kuvemar I think you’re right. Vettel burst on the scene as an arrogant young thing and won four world championships in a car that was superior to anything else on the grid. So long as he was able to get pole, he could then drive away into the sunset. But put any obstacle in his way (like a team mate) and he reacted badly – sometimes by driving into said team mate (as he did to Webber). With the arrival of the hybrid era we heard a whole year of excuses about how “the car didn’t suit him” while Ricciardo (still a relative youngster) showed how it’s done.

        He has singularly failed to impress at Ferrari, and the same excuses are being trotted out. Next year it will be in a pink Mercedes (oops – Aston Martin) and I’m willing to bet he won’t impress again.

        He may be a charming fellow off the track, love his children and help old ladies across the road. But on the track he is a highly overrated has-been.

        I for one will be happy to see him go.

        1. Jakob Levesen
          13th December 2020, 5:47

          I agree totally with you Avro. Well said!

  6. Seb’s last message to Ferrari is that they always were noobs after the V8 era ended.

  7. As much as Vettel is underperforming I do agree with him the gap is strange. Once you upset Ferrari he is lucky they did not sack him like they did with Legend Professor Alain Prost for insulting the car.

    1. That was a pig, not a car!

  8. There’s no mistery! It’s YOU SEB! It’s always been you!!!Good riddance… Close the door after you!

  9. He’s basically saying the cars are not equal, but then for sure he’s not giving equal effort either.

    Still stunned by how atrocious this season was for Vettel, and how he can live with it. To me it’s like he’s doing it in spite. Of course it’s not the first time Ferrari puts staff off to the max (Aldo Costa, Alonso, and even Allison are examples), but you’d think Vettel would care more about his legacy than to let it go this far.

    1. @balue I don’t buy the “cars aren’t equal” argument. In a season like this, Ferrari needs every single point they can get to save face (and prize money). Plus, Leclerc was already dominating Vettel in qualifying last year when Vettel was officially the number 1 driver in Ferrari. Is it really a surprise that a driver in his third year in F1 and second year with a team improves more than a guy in his thirteenth full season in F1 and sixth with the team? Even if Vettel re-signed with Ferrari, I saw this level of domination from Leclerc coming in 2020 last year. Look at how Verstappen compared to Ricciardo in qualifying from 2016 to 2017 to see how steep the improvements can be for a driver on pace once they are able to add experience to their talent.

  10. The thing under you, Champ, is a pig.
    Leave that pig to where it belongs and move on!
    Ferrari has used engine setting and mode tricks before, e.g. boosting Chuck’s engines against Ericsson once Marcusshowed faster…

  11. This has mostly been the case with the 2nd Ferrari driver since 2010. All started with Massa and Alonso. Then Kimi could never get anywhere near Fernando. Sure, Kimi wasn’t the same Kimi who won the title in 07 and the same fearsome driver he was at Mclaren but the gap was ridiculous. Then we saw the same with Kimi vs Vettel. Now, Vettel is in the same shoes as Kimi and Massa before. Fact is these are all conspiracies but it seems Ferrari cannot run two equal cars.

    1. @blazzz I think this can fairly easily be explained by Massa and Raikkonen (post 2006) not being elite drivers. The only benchmark we had for Raikkonen post 2006 was Massa and Grosjean, neither of whom have since proved to be worthy of a seat anywhere near the top in F1.

  12. I doubt it’s a mystery. He can look at Charles’ in car camera footage and data traces, so by now he should know where things are different. If the cars are different, then saying it’s a mystery is a nice way of saying Charles as the ‘A’ car and I’m driving something less. If the cars are the same, then saying it’s a mystery is a way to save face rather then come out and say Charles can drive it faster than I can.

  13. If it wasn’t for the $$$ and name involved, I would say that there is some manipulation happening there. However I am not a fam of Vettel, I have to agree that there is a limite between the drivers suitability to a car and what is happening at Ferrari this season. Thee is a difference between the way drivers tend to adapt to a car. Same prefer a little understeering, as others prefer oversteering, and some need it as nit as possible. Maybe that was there mistake, “not to keep it in the limites”. Anyway, I do not think people has any doubts of what is happening, and it is a shame if they are doing it, not count that it seams been badly done.

  14. “I’m looking firward to seeing the checquered flag.” (**Gets punted off into the barriers by Fittipaldi on lap 1**)

  15. The fact is, the leadership at Ferrari just don’t care. It doesn’t mean they will deliberately slow him down but then again, if they are not in a hurry to help him find a solution then it is same as slowing him down.
    I’m surprised Ferrari have yet to say his car has Covid, which they gave as an excuse for not renewing his contract.
    A team that treats a driver that way just doesn’t care. Full Stop.

  16. it’s just raikkonen and vettel all over again, with vettel on the other side this time

  17. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    13th December 2020, 1:40

    Nice comments by Vettel – obviously he realizes that he’s closing a big chapter in his career. I think he’s in a good position to tell if he’s driving well and it seems that he’s driving quickly enough and he’s been pushing a lot this year.

    Ferrari have somehow managed the impossible – they’ve turned me into Seb’s fan! I think a lot of it has to do with Seb himself who has been remarkably mature and professional this season.

    One can look back and say that he failed in not securing a WDC but I feel that he succeeded – the result was befitting for the Scuderia, they didn’t deserve a championship and I have a hunch Vettel felt that way too.

    In the process I will not shy away from saying that I’ve come to dislike Ferrari.

  18. Wouldn’t surprise me to see him retire from the race. Based on history, very happy Hamilton didn’t end up there.

  19. The difference is hardly a surprise for me to be honest. First of all the chain of events leading him to be replaced in the beginning of the season unmotivated every one on that side of the garage including Vettel. I think this wasn’t done on purpose but rather timing was really bad. Vettel’s pitstops take 3-5 seconds sometimes not because of ill will but because people probably don’t care and slip.

    Secondly of course the entire team is working on producing a car that will suit Charles Leclerc in the long run that means they probably take some liberties in the decisions that effect the car design and handling maybe doesn’t really suit Vettel.

    I think objectively looking the decision was right because with an uncompetitive car it is better not to pay a 4 time world champion a lot of money, instead pay two young and promising drivers which costs less and hope they show up when it matters. But the timing of the announcement certainly cost Ferrari a lot of points this season, a lot of prize money and some prestige for having a car constantly finishing outside of top 10.

  20. Leclerc was already on Vettel’s pace in Australia last year when Vettel was still Ferrari’s number one.

    Leclerc’s just flattering the performance of the Ferrari.

    Vettel needs to stop with the conspiracy theory nonsense.

  21. Vettel and Kimi have a narrow window where they can extract performance from the car, compered to Alonso or Hamilton and now Charles or Max. The car has been terrible and somehow against Vettel’s ideal setup (which is stable rear under braking and turnin) . This is why he can’t match Charles pace. Plus, his engine in Abu Dhabi is 7 races old, so probably the worst on the grid.

    Anyways, he is a grate driver in ideal conditions, but maybe times have changed. So a change is welcomed for both parts.

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