Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, Silverstone, 2021

Vettel: I still have “a long time in me” and I can win a fifth title

2021 F1 season

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Sebastian Vettel says he could compete in Formula 1 for many more years to come in pursuit of a fifth world championship title.

Heading into his 14th full season as a Formula 1 driver, Vettel has joined the rebranded Aston Martin team following a bruising 2020 campaign at Ferrari.

Vettel was comprehensively out-performed by team mate Charles Leclerc over the course of last season. Before the championship had even begun, Ferrari had confirmed they would not retain Vettel’s services for this year.

It brought Vettel’s six-year stint at the team to an unsatisfactory conclusion. He joined them in 2015 having won four world championships for Red Bull. Now 33, Vettel remains convinced that, given the right opportunity, he can win a fifth.

“Obviously I’m not too old,” he said at the launch of Aston Martin’s new Formula 1 car last week, nodding towards two-times world champion Fernando Alonso’s impending return with Alpine. “I mean, there is now older drivers joining the grid, rather than younger drivers. You’ve got Mick [Schumacher] as well so he brings some new blood.

Vettel’s final year at Ferrari was not a happy one
” [But] I don’t think it’s an age thing. I think it’s more a question of, do you have the car and the team around you?

“Obviously Formula 1 has been like this for as long as I can remember and probably before. It’s not a secret, obviously, in the last years you needed to be in a Mercedes to really fight for the championship. I think we got close at times with Ferrari but never really close enough to have a say in the last two or three races.”

Vettel has exchanged one of Formula 1’s largest and wealthiest teams for a smaller operation, albeit one which has benefited from the cash injection which followed Lawrence Stroll’s 2018 takeover. He already appears to be thriving in his new surroundings.

“Last year it’s not a secret I was not at my happiest,” Vettel admits. “So this year I’m very much looking forward.

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Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, Silverstone, 2021
Aston Martin is Vettel’s new home for 2021
“It’s a great group of people. The spirit is great, very enthusiastic. It’s obviously very small if you compare it to Ferrari at first. But part of it is obviously the fact that we are not building the engine and another part of it is that the team is still growing, so pretty much the opposite to most of the other big teams and obviously the team I raced for before.

“So things are a bit different. But it’s not about the fancy looks or the fancy, expensive designer chairs in the office. It’s about the work done behind the scenes. [From] what I’ve seen I think the people are very capable, very talented. It’s probably the first time in the team’s history for the last one and a half, two years that they’re getting the oxygen to breathe.”

Stroll’s eagerness to have the ex-Ferrari driver at the wheel of his ‘British Ferrari’ can be gauged by the face he moved incumbent Sergio Perez aside, despite having signed a new three-year deal with the team’s long-standing driver in 2019.

For Vettel, an Aston Martin may not be the Mercedes drive that every competitor covets, but it could be the next-closest thing. The team has made no secret of its strategy to model its machine on the all-conquering black cars. Vettel’s move also means that, for the first time in the V6 hybrid turbo era, he has Mercedes power beneath his right foot.

Pointing to the success Mercedes has enjoyed over the past seven years, Vettel acknowledged a long-term commitment is essential “if you really want to win”.

“If you look at Mercedes, they started somewhere in 2011-12 and then really got into the winning ways with the new power unit where they just got out of the gates a lot faster than anyone else,” he explains.

“But the car wasn’t really that great in 2014, chassis-wise. And from then onwards – I should say [from] ’11 – then it took them another five years to really build a car that was also considered probably the best chassis. So that’s the time it takes.

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“But then everybody has that time and not everybody has done the job. So there’s a lot of projects going around, different manufacturers and in the end only one can win but Mercedes has been the one that’s been the strongest. So hats off to them. The others were just not good enough.”

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, Silverstone, 2021
“I still have a long time in me”
Aston Martin CEO Otmar Szafnauer said the team is unlikely to be in championship contention for three to five years. Could a customer team ever beat their manufacturer supplier to the title? That hasn’t looked like a realistic prospect as far as Mercedes are concerned over the V6 hybrid turbo era so far.

But Vettel is optimistic that may change after F1’s new technical regulations come into force next year.

“Obviously Formula 1 [is] changing at the same time. Time will tell, but maybe you don’t need those three-to-five years anymore. Maybe it will shrink.

“That’s the hope, I think, for everyone to be a bit closer to the top. Not just be on the podium because you got lucky that the guys in the front retired or crashed, but this time for real. So we’ll see how Formula 1 changes in the next years.”

It’s that, rather than Vettel’s age, which he believes will determine whether he gets the chance to fight for a fifth world championship.

“Age-wise, I think I still have a long time in me,” he says. “It depends in all honesty a little bit the circumstances of how things are going in the near future.”

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76 comments on “Vettel: I still have “a long time in me” and I can win a fifth title”

  1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    8th March 2021, 13:47

    Many will say vettel has had it now and couldn’t even be considered a top 10 driver. But I think his weakness is that he underperforms, or even doesn’t try hard enough if the car doesn’t suit him. I think it will be the last time i feel he will be able to show what he is capable of. If he is very comfortable with the car and I think it will be a regular podium contender, then I think he likely will be pretty good. Remember last time he moved teams, his first season, he was arguably the best driver of all that year.

    I hope he does well.

    1. What I feel it hinders him is that he is the first Superstar to be thoroughly harmed from the free-testing restrictions.

      And that’s a shame because in testing we could see the hidden qualities of a lead driver. We’ve seen it with Piquet, seen it with Schumacher, and I’m sure had Vettel had tested SF90 and SF1000 roundly, the story would be totally different. I actually don’t think Leclerc would have beaten him, but of course it would still be marginal.

      And if you put that into perspective, probably he’d have been champion in 2017, maybe even 2018, as he truly challenged Hamilton at driving.

      Also, maybe Honda wouldn’t have its fiasco with Button and Alonso developing exhaustively.

      I’m sure someone will come and point out “hey, real good drivers are the ones who adapt” and all, and it is a fair point. But I must say I’m not sure adaptable is the ultimate quality of a prime driver. I mean, as much as Alonso or Ricciardo are textbook cases of all-rounders, I simply can’t picture them pulling a Clark’s 1965 season or a Triple Crown without an asterisk. But I totally picture Vettel, Hamilton or Schumacher, as they were relentless beasts unmatched at their peaks (actually, I rate both Hamilton and Vettel the same level and I really think Mercedes should’ve signed both for the biggest team battle of all time).

      Well, just my two cents.

      1. I actually rate alonso higher than that, especially in the races, like schumacher his forte wasn’t qualifying but he was impressive in the race and at driving bad cars really well, while vettel is indeed not that adaptable, just like raikkonen, he was really good around 2003-2007, not so good after.

  2. He is not only involed as a driver in AM, so, even if he fails to get competitive it’s not the end of the world for him, it’s somehow a way to stay involed in F1 after his career as a racing driver. I somehow agree that this is his last chance to see himself try one more time. I don’t think he is going to succeed, he will beat Lance for sure but not that much more than that.

    It’ll probably makes sense to get GR into this machine if he doesnt get his merc seat next year. But I believe they will keep him for longer period even if he doesnt succeed or get any podiums like Perez did.

    Andrew Green will regret for what he said about Perez this year for sure.

    1. What did he say about perez? I don’t find it anywhere on google.

          1. Ahh, it definitely makes sense, since vettel isn’t that adaptable at all, it could come to bite him.

  3. Although I like Vettel as a personality (he seems to be one of the most amiable drivers on the grid), I’ve never considered him as one of the best on the grid.

    But it brings me no pleasure to see him performing so poorly, and I sincerely hope that he thrives at Aston Martin, I’d be more than happy to revise my opinion of him and for him to have a terrific season. He already seems much happier, fingered crossed that translates to better drives over the coming months.

    1. I’ve actually come to like Vettel over the past few seasons. He comes across as a nice bloke. However I think this next season is very important for him. I’ll overlook his last few seasons at ferrari as they can be a difficult team if you don’t have their favour but if he doesn’t outperform Stroll it could be curtains on his carrier unfortunately.

  4. I’m sorry, but Aston Martin are not going to beat the current Mercedes set-up in a season. That means second at best in the championship, third and so on if Red Bull and others move ahead of the Silver Arrows.

    Race wins yes, championships no. A level at or close to a 2020 Red Bull is their best hope.

    1. @alloythere Agreed, and to take it a step further they simply must get away from copying Mercedes and on to designing their own car. And with the current pu format one must be an in-house factory pu and chassis maker under one roof, so even AM designing their own car if/when that happens still leaves them on their hind foot vs Mercedes if no one else. What will be interesting on that front is to see what the next pu format will be, as one of Brawn’s criteria is that it be some degree of heading back to how it always was pre-hybrid era, which is plug-and-play with the engine such that indeed a customer did stand a chance of taking someone’s great engine and plugging it into their great chassis, and actually fighting for wins and titles. In this era the pu and chassis integration is just so vital that one a one-maker outfit can succeed in optimizing the performance of both. Chassis and pu are one in this chapter.

      1. Yes, it is a bit of a problem with the current regulations. For example, McLaren: unless they start producing their own power unit, they are not going to beat their supplier.

        Regarding Racing Point’s copying of Mercedes, weren’t the rules meant to have been cleaned up to prevent this (so far as can be achieved)?

        1. @alloythere Yeah same situation with Mac and any other customer which is why we are seeing RBR take the big measures they are for the future, plug-and-play or not. As to the copying rules, my understanding is that there were just some clarifications made but that for the most part AM is still able to do a great deal in that area. I’m not as clear on if there will be more restrictions to that level of copying come 2022 and onward, and I’m really curious as to how much AM will get Mercedes help with the new gen car given AM won’t have one to copy. Will AM only be able to get the usual type of info a customer gets in order to ensure they can successfully install the Merc pu, and knowing how their aero will have to work around that, such as for example Mac would have received ahead of this season? Not sure.

        2. It has historically basis but it isn’t written in stone that you can’t beat your engine supplier’s works team – they started way ahead but RB never had any issue trouncing Renault.
          With budget cap in hand, I live in hope.

    2. Well F1 can change quickly, so what Vettel said does make sense. If you go back to the end of 2008 and say next year Honda (WCC 9th) will become Brawn and fight against Red Bull (WCC 7th) for the championship, everyone will tell you to lay off the drugs.

  5. I also think the Aston Martin driver line-up is a bit of a conundrum this year. If Stroll beats Vettel, everyone will say that Vettel is majorly on the wane. If Vettel beats Stroll, everyone will say Stroll is just a pay-driver.

    The reality is it is unclear whether Vettel can get back to his 2018 levels, and it is unclear just how fast Stroll is. And I’m not sure this line-up helps answer that.

    1. I think stroll proved to be a quite decent driver so far, so vettel could or could not beat him, depends indeed if he gets back to pre-2018 levels (I think apart from speed 2018 was bad for him) or not.

    2. Yup there’s not going to be a clear yardstick. We will see how they go with unforced errors and we’ll get a little cross comparison from their ex-teammate’s intrateam performances.

    3. @alloythere

      it is unclear whether Vettel can get back to his 2018 levels

      Why would he want to get back to how poorly he was performing in 2018? Besides he wasn’t performing that differently in 2009, 2014, 2019 and 2020.

      1. I actually think pre-Hockenheim, 2018 was a good year for Vettel. To my mind, that crash in the stadium began a downwards trajectory that increased in 2019, before accelerating in 2020.

        Vettel does have form for righting himself. In 2014 he had a poor year against Ricciardo. But from 2015 to 2018 he looked strong again.

        1. @alloythere Ferrari had the much better car for the first half of the 2018 season yes, but Vettel messed up in France, Baku and Austria already before Germany.

          1. Reminding myself of the 2018 results, I see that pre-Germany Vettel won at Australia, Bahrain, Canada and Britain. Post Germany he also won convincingly at Belgium, I now recall. He was a very different driver to the one we saw subsequently- IMO.

            I would also question your assessment of the 2009 season- he managed to win in China when the Brawn was still a strong car, and later on he won at Britain, Japan and Abu Dhabi. And he finished the season in second.

            From 2011-2013 he then seemed utterly unbeatable. In particular, he won the last nine (nine!) races of 2013. At that point he was being discussed as up there with Senna, Prost etc as an all-time great. Then 2014 happened, and the questions started.

            The fact that 2014 was book-ended by a return to form with Ferrari, and then followed by another dip in form from 2018/19-on (dependent on your view) is an interesting talking point. I think it speaks to how sensitive these drivers can be to external factors.

  6. Was he trying to imply that Mercedes’ success in 2014 and 2015 would’ve been solely down to the PU? LOL. For sure, Mercedes have had the best overall package throughout the hybrid era.

    1. @jerejj Yeah I thought it was interesting that he implied Mercedes didn’t have the best chassis until around 2018/2019. Red Bull certainly pushed that narrative, but I think the Mercedes chassis of 2014-2017 were quite underrated as the majority seemed to attribute their success only to the power unit.

      1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
        8th March 2021, 19:07

        @keithedin Mercedes pushed this narrative too 2014 to 2016, deliberately!!! Great podcast from The Race about the Merc transition years from V8 to V6 hybrid with quotes from team heads. They wanted the media to assume it was the PU. They wanted the media to keep believing Redbull had the best chassis. In 2017 the other teams suddenly twigged! The more you dig into this team the more you realise they’re playing a different game than the rest. I laugh when I hear people bemoan Toto or Allison playing down their chances. Firstly, that’s why they have been consistently brilliant. No arrogance. Secondly they are masters of misdirection! Remember DAS during pre-season testing 2020? No-one noticed the back flipped rear suspension geometry which Redbull has copied for 2021.
        I would recommend anyone to seriously read as many books and interviews about how Mercedes AMG F1 came to be the most successful team of the modern era. Ron Dennis called it “The Piranha Club” Merc was like, “OK, what eats Piranhas?”

      2. @jerejj @keithedin I took him to mean from 2011 it took about 5 years for them to have the best chassis, but I don’t think he would as well imply that means it was all down to the pu for those initial hybrid years. Certainly didn’t take him to mean not until 2018/2019. I think ‘best chassis’ is a bit of a harder one to nail down in this chapter that is so crucial to have in-house integration between pu and chassis. I think what happened is that come 2014 they, as we now know, had by far the best pu, and that even if one could somehow delineate, such as SV is, that their chassis was not the best, it was likely very close to that, and then combine it with their masterful intergration of the far and away best pu, with a very strong chassis, and well, we all saw the results. Even a driver such as NR, not at LH’s level, was demolishing the field along with LH.

        1. @robbie Yeah I don’t know if the article was edited or I completely missed it, but it looks like it now reads as from 11 onwards it took 5 years, which is a lot more reasonable. But even so, difficult to confirm who had the best chassis in the early hybrid years as highest downforce in itself doesn’t always mean best chassis. There are other factors such as drag, traction and aerodynamic stability, which makes it harder to compare overall performance levels (the teams will have a better idea since exact gps traces would be able to separate the influences of power and drag for example).

    2. @jerejj I don’t think Mercedes’ chassis from 2014-2016 produced the most downforce, but it was the best overall as Red Bull’s chassis for example was much draggier also with their high-rake concept

      1. Let’s not forget there were several teams with the same engine as mercedes, at least in 2014 there were williams, mclaren and force india, and mercedes was by far ahead of them, so I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume they had the best chassis too.

        I think in 2017 they might not have had the best chassis, ferrari and red bull looked better in the tracks that were least engine-dependant, in 2018 they were up there since imo they were at the same level as ferrari while having been overtaken in the engine department, and in 2019 they went back to having the best chassis.

        1. Same engines? Does that include the same lubricants? If not then I would argue they are not the same engines at all. If they did then sure fine – maybe? All of the research and investment into lubricants. Must be a reason for it? I look forward to when this single team engine dominance all ends and we have a competition again. Don’t you? 3 years to go. It will be closer after 2022 but I get the feeling we will still have one team at the top racing around with the best engine on the grid and the best lubricants. I hope I’m wrong.

          1. Only McLaren did not use the works fuel and lubricant supplies, but that was because McLaren deliberately chose not to – they stuck with their existing supplier (Exxon) instead. Otherwise, it’s normally included as part of the supply deal.

          2. This misdirection really annoys me.

            McLaren were the only team that due to sponsorship by a different fuel and oil company (Mobil) required different parameters and were given them through additional work by Mercedes. If that resulted in a few hp less well frankly tough! RD quite simply was making excuses for an abysmally awful year (or four) where it is quite obvious the downward trajectory from 2010 on simply sped up.

            The other teams were using the engine with the same oils and fuels and while certainly the 2014 to 2016 engine ‘fitted’ in the Mercedes was superior, there is no doubt the chassis was right up there as it could not all be about integration after 2014 when others knew exactly what they were getting. That and two very good drivers is the difference not a different oil!

            Note Mercedes have made it clear time and time again that other teams get exactly the same engine and modes as the works team. Identical in every way. A team like Williams may choose fewer hard work modes to save costs but they have access to them.

            Apparently in 2014 even the drivers at Mercedes were unaware of some of the modes!

            In the end the FIA made it mandatory that all engines and control software is the same and as the rest is made for the fia by Macca via their control Ecu, all arguments of this nature stemming from RD comments are simply sour grapes.

    3. @jerejj
      The best overall package is a combination of chassis, aero and engine:
      Mercedes 2014-2016
      Engine (relative to the rest): 10
      Chassis (relative to the rest): 7-8
      Aero (relative to the rest): 8
      Combined: 25/26

      Red Bull 2014-2016:
      Engine (relative to Mercedes): 6 – 7
      Chassis (relative to the rest): 9
      Aero (relative to the rest): 8,5
      Combined: 23,5/24,5

      Post 2017 is a different story.

      @keithedin
      It was not RBR pushing that narrative, it was all the data analysts pushing that narrative, since everything is measured in F1 and therefor pretty easy to address.

      Post 2017, the Mercedes chassis came on par with the RBR, and even surpassed it at times.

      @mashiat
      Mercedes used high-rake until 2017 when they switched to their current concept.

  7. Personally I think he’s lost ‘it’, if he ever had it. Also, earlier in his career his fake chumminess and irritating shouting on the radio did grate.

    HOWEVER – he has very much warmed on me lately, as he seems like a proper racer and a decent bloke. So I hope he can recover at least some form and end his F1 career with some degree of success and rehabilitated reputation. I doubt whether race wins or regular podiums are in the offing, but 5th or 6th in the championship, and fewer spins, would be a good result I’d say.

  8. Vettel has adopted the use of the word “obviously” from Kimi and really made it his own.
    Obviously, he will be a useful benchmark for Stroll. Obviously, he will be able to score points.
    I wish him the best, obviously.

    1. @ferrox-glideh Since Massa in particular left ‘obviously’ seems to have replaced ‘for sure’ as the most- used F1 driver term. For sure.

      1. Did Massa catch “for sure” from Alain Prost? When I say it in my head, for sure I hear the voice of Prost.

    2. @ferrox-glideh I seem to remember ‘obviously’ and ‘for sure’ was from Schumacher, and Massa and Raikkonen got whatever from him.

  9. Every Ferrari driver, current or former, has a place in my heart and it would be cool to see Seb in top shape and winning… but I doubt this will happen. In any case, I don’t believe AM is the best place to start a title chase for a driver in this phase pf his career.

    1. Yes, unfortunately that goes for every driver, no place but mercedes is good for a title since 2014, with the exception of the ferrari 2018, and even then only if you can beat your team mate.

  10. It’s funny how some ‘fans’ change their opinion about Seb more often than they change their underwear ;)

    I remember during his Red Bull-days it was cool to hate him, because he was the successful one, the one that would make all the right choices during a season. Similar to Hamilton now and I bet the same people that disliked Vettel back then, dislike Hamilton now (probably for the same reasons).
    Then in 2014, people were laughing at him for getting beaten by Ricciardo, but were liking him again after he made the switch to Ferrari for some reason.
    After the 2017 Baku-incident with Hamilton they disliked him again, but as soon as he got sacked by Ferrari, people (I’m guessing the same ones that laughed at him in 2014) started feeling sorry for him and like him now.

    People can be very weird sometimes.

    1. @srga91 I didn’t like him during his earlier career/championships due to his fake chumminess, spoilt child behaviour and playing the victim in his battles with Webber. Didn’t change my opinion when he went to Ferrari. What has however changed my opinion is his consistent speaking out against rubbish gimmick changes to the sport – I find that refreshing. In addition he seems to have matured into a much more likeable chap in recent years. I still don’t rate him as a top-level driver, but I don’t want to see him fail.

      1. @tflb

        playing the victim in his battles with Webber.

        Webber was crying about favouritism at Silverstone 2010 when he didn’t even like the new front wing… until they gave the one they had to Vettel. Then he had to make a big fuss about it in the media.

        Webber also played victim at Malaysia 2013 when he was overtaken by Vettel fair and square, despite bragging at Silverstone 2011 about how he didn’t listen to team orders and continued to push Vettel after the call was made.

        There was only one guy playing the victim in that era, and it was not Vettel.

        1. @kingshark Yeah… no. Malaysia wasn’t really fair and square was it? Given that RB operated on the basis that whoever got into turn 1 first on lap one would then be unchallenged, and the team told Vettel not to attack multiple times. Then he got on the radio pretending he had to overtake because he was scared… A bit pathetic. Plus there was the one that mostly started it – the Turkey collision, which was 100% Vettel’s fault but he had the audacity to call Webber crazy.

          1. I was at Sepang that day – I must be biased but I don’t recall the white hot rage being because it was fair and square.
            Anyway, I’ve also thought a little better of Vettel over the years, he now rarely reverts to Baku like form c/w feigned ignorance of his on-track mis-demeanours.

          2. @tflb

            Given that RB operated on the basis that whoever got into turn 1 first on lap one would then be unchallenged

            Do you know who lead after the first corner of the first lap in Malaysia?

        2. @kingshark I take your point about Silverstone 2011, but 2010 is for me a different story… regardless of what happens to the other car, I don’t think you should take off an upgraded part and give it to the other driver while also maintaining a pretence of ‘equal treatment’.

          1. @tflb
            Webber didn’t want the new front wing. He preferred the old one. Vettel liked the new one better. They had one front wing available, so it makes perfect sense to give it to the guy who actually likes it.

    2. @srga91 The funny and weird are all those ‘fans’ who say Vettel is rubbish and how it was all about the car, and then in the next sentence will hail Hamilton’s achievement and categorically deny that it was all to do with the car, and how the best drivers always get the best drives etc.

      1. @balue The difference being that drivers like Hamilton, Alonso, Schumacher actually do win a lot of races not driving the best car. While Vettel showed he only wins driving the fastest car, starting from the front row, with a poor or neutered team mate and no competition “bothering” him during the race. If he faces any competition during the race he’s prone to crash into them or spin off.

        And yes in 2008 Monza, he did have the fastest car too for the track and conditions. 3 of those cars in the top 4 after quali.

          1. @balue Yes you better, because there is no case.

        1. @f1osaurus
          I wonder how long it will take Hamilton fans to realize that bashing Vettel doesn’t benefit Hamilton’s legacy at all. If anything it has the opposite effect.

          At least Schumacher fans are clever enough to hype up Hakkinen. It looks like you haven’t reached that level of introspection yet.

          1. @kingshark If anything it’s actually the opposite. The fact that Vettel is such a poor racer is damaging to Hamilton’s legacy.

            If for instance Ricciardo was in that Ferrari then we could at least have seen a championship fight and Hamilton could have demonstrated his skills even more. Rather than just winning due to Vettel crashing, spinning or otherwise messing things up.

          2. @f1osaurus
            I agree that Hamilton has faced mediocre opposition for basically all of his titles

            His rivals include Massa (2008), Rosberg (2014-15), Vettel (2017-18) and Bottas (2019-20).

            Not much in the way of a challenge.

            All the best drivers on the grid (Alonso, Verstappen, Ricciardo) have been stuck in cars enormously inferior to Mercedes for the entire hybrid era.

            It’s made it very easy for Hamilton to statpad.

          3. @kingshark Exactly and that makes it less easy to see that Hamilton is a lot better than Alonso, Ricciardo and Verstappen. Even though with some insight it’s quite obvious.

            Well he beat Alonso even when he was a rookie and Alonso was the #1 driver in the team. So that’s a given.

            What’s weird though, despite of all their blundering, people still believe Verstappen and Leclerc are great drivers who would win easily if they only had the fastest cars. Even though they have clearly shown that they won less than half of the races where they had the fastest car.

            Hamilton is just too far ahead at the moment and he has no one who can actually keep up over a whole season. It makes things boring. Maybe the current troubles Mercedes seem to be having can make things a bit more “exciting”.

          4. @f1osaurus
            Verstappen right now is in a fairly similar situation to Hamilton was from 2009-2013, although he is able to finish higher in the championship than 4th place.

            Perez will do wonders for Verstappen’s reputation. Here is a driver who is very similar in ability to Bottas. Let’s see who beats their teammate by a bigger margin.

          5. @f1osaurus Verstappen is just horrible in getting the car advanced in the right direction. Hamilton has always shown he was better at that. Plus Hamilton has always been much more solid in taking maximum out of the car.

            When Verstappen gets the opportunity to win or when he needs to defend, he chokes. Already in 2019 (Hungary), but this season it was just ridiculous (Styria, Hungary, Monza, Turkey, Sakhir).

            Agreed that Perez will do wonders for Verstappen in the twisted minds of his fans. Perez is barely better than Stroll (in fact worse than Stroll when Stroll was still in it). Some people only remember the 2 or 3 races a year where he performed reasonably decent anyway and think he’s one of the greatest who deserves a seat in a top team. Even though he already had that chance and failed abysmally when he got utterly destroyed by Button.

  11. I will be surprised if he can beat Lance much less contend for a fifth title. Yes, I do believe his is over the hill and has been since 2019.

    1. I would even go further and dedicate his 4 titles to the RedBull and a horrible Webber. Vettel is by far the luckiest out there, only recently beaten by Lewis

  12. Vettel does seem like a nice bloke. But based on RaceFans driver ratings from last year, Aston Martin have got the worst driver line up of the whole grid.

    Arguably the Haas line up is no better.

    So I don’t expect great things from them this year regardless of how good the car is.

    1. Indeed, really terrible choice based on recent performance, again I’m not one who thinks keeping stroll is the real problem, but replacing perez with a subpar driver in recent times. We’ll see though.

  13. Going to be fascinating with SV. I certainly think he has a ton left in him. I’m sure while he may feel like ‘change is as good as a rest,’ he will also not want to be beat by Stroll. There may be some pressure there that Lance won’t feel in the same way at least when it comes to that one performance aspect of driver comparison. I think it could be quite close between them, as I also think they will be held back by the car/team, and that they will be continuing to just put their noses to the grindstone and progress. Whether or not SV beats LS this season, well, all that will happen is they are going to go at it again in 2022, no matter what critiques he and they get after this season, and those will be wholly new cars, so it is going to be exciting to watch. So very exciting. Oh and I won’t be surprised if we hear from LS what enjoyment he is getting learning from SV as an experienced Champion, and gratitude for it, something that Leclerc expressed appreciation for on more than one occasion in spite of their clashes and SV being outperformed.

    1. @robbie I’m not sure Lance will be that forthcoming with praise – I remember after Massa finally retired Lance was asked whether he’d learnt a lot from having such an experienced teammate, and he replied that he didn’t think he’d really gained much from him – a comment I think Massa was rather surprised by.

      1. @tflb Hmm, that’s interesting, and as well kind of sad. Didn’t know that. Especially him as a rookie. Wonder what will happen this year.

      2. I remember that, that’s a disappointing comment and I say that as one who doesn’t believe stroll is a bad driver.

      3. That seems logical when talking about Massa

  14. It’s quite revealing how Vettel points out his new team good spirits and being very enthusiastic. It sounds like something other than at Ferrari.

    With the team fully gelling with him I’m sure Vettel will bring his A game and will surprise a lot of people. 3rd in the driver rating at season’s end is my bet (well except for this site who has likely already given it to Sainz).

  15. Well, it is theoretically possible that he, in the course of the years he’s still around in F1, ends up in a car that outshines the field and then adds a WDC to his tally. So, technically he is correct, there is still a chance. Although I am not sure he will ever be as lucky as to find a Webber in the other seat

  16. He looks like Kickass. Kickass Vettel.

  17. I have an opinion
    9th March 2021, 9:52

    Who can say if the Mercedes clone suits his particular style? The only cars he has driven that flattered him were the Ferrari-powered Red Bull of 2008 and the trick diffuser Red Bulls of 2009-2013.
    I predict he will be fighting Stroll and Perez most of the time, when he’s not spinning off or understeering into barriers.

  18. Aston Martin looks like a squad of surgeons that are ready to operate.

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