Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021

Vettel feeling “not at home in the car yet” after tough weekend

2021 F1 Season

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Despite a torrid first race outing with Aston Martin, Sebastian Vettel believes he has identified the problem areas he must work on before the next grand prix.

Vettel qualified 18th for the Bahrain Grand Prix, only ahead of the two Haas drivers, after encountering two yellow flags on his final qualifying lap. A five-place grid penalty for failing to slow sufficiently for one of the incidents saw him drop to the back of the field.

Having made his way up to 12th, Vettel’s race was ruined when he collided with Esteban Ocon at turn one. The Aston Martin driver was handed a 10-second time penalty and took the chequered flag in 15th place.

Reflecting on the unsuccessful weekend, Vettel said his disrupted build-up to his first race with his new team, due to reliability problems with the team’s car, had left him with much work still to do to understand the car.

“It’s been probably not the best weekend or the weekend we were looking for, he said. “But there were a lot of things that we learned in the race that we need to address. We will see how quickly we can fix them.

“But I’m not at home in the car. There’s a lot of things that are fighting me so that I can’t really focus on driving. But we need to address them and try and fix them.”

Vettel said he isn’t finding the car’s handling as predictable as he needs it to be. “I obviously adapt to how the car wants to be driven, but there’s a lot of things that add certain inconsistency that don’t help. So these things we need to get on top of.”

Despite his disappointing first race weekend, Vettel was positive about his debut with Aston Martin.

“I feel really good,” he said. “Obviously, I’m a bit sorry for such a bad weekend because I know how much prep goes in before the start of the season and then the first race, et cetera. But on the other hand, it can only go up from here.

“We learned a lot of things,” he said, adding the team now knows where it can make improvements. “It’s a lot of work ahead of us, but it’s what it is and we have to tackle it step by step.”

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Author information

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...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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32 comments on “Vettel feeling “not at home in the car yet” after tough weekend”

  1. He is a mediocre driver, that cant perform under pressure nor in traffic. He is fast though over a single lap without anyone around. When given a winning car he will put it on pole and get you the win. Ask anything else and he wont manage to succeed. Aston Martin hired him because of the marketing value since the team needs to attract funds. On the side it makes the boss son look good so everyone wins. Aston does not expect him to perform but to be an ambassador in a transitional year. In time they will switch to truly competitive drivers.

    1. He certainly doesn’t look great in the AM right now, that’s for sure. But I think the bigger problem is the car is way off the pace the team expected. This year’s rule change seems to have hurt low rake cars a lot. The team have bigger issues than their drivers right now. Can they successful build upon the solid platform they had last year? Perez must be laughing right now!

      1. Well, if the car indeed is way off the pace they expected, isn’t it kind of karma? As in some people were defending vettel saying he’d laugh at ferrari once he went to AM, but did he really deserve to move to a better car after the performance he had in 2020? Going to a worse car is a fitting reward for his 2020 season, just like perez to red bull.

    2. If Vettel retires before 2022 it could be good chance for Nico Hulkenburg to return full time.

      1. Indeed. And rack up a bunch of 7th place finishes for the team. :-)

  2. Yes he better start getting a handle on things because then the season’s going to be very long and difficult for him, with his reputation as a racing driver having taken quite a hit recently.

  3. Honestly, Vettel doesn’t strike me as a driver that has grown at all over the years. He constantly makes statements like he’s “not at home with the car” or handling isn’t exactly to his liking.. blah blah.

    He just needs to get on with it and learn to maximise results in a far from perfect car. Heck, a lot of midfield drivers have done it their entire careers.. so a 4 time WDC can’t? Not every car is going to be home grown in a Newey genius lab. As a driver he needs to at least perform to the car’s level.. not underperform consistently.

    With every passing day I find it more and more shocking that Vettel has won 4 WDCs. Right now his championship winning potential seems as much as a Latifi or Giovinazzi’s.

    1. Yes, it’s very unusual cause as much as I don’t like vettel it’s obvious that a 2020 performing vettel wouldn’t have won those championships with red bull, he’d have lost to webber, probably by far, so while I’m not saying he didn’t have it easy with those cars, he certainly drove ok overall back then, and in 2017 and early 2018 as well, so I’m guessing his problem is he can’t drive wheel to wheel and hence suffers more in the midfield than at the front.

      1. he certainly drove ok overall back then

        I agree. While it is tempting to use Vettel’s current form to discredit his prior good days, it won’t be a fair thing to do. Drivers losing their speed, their wheel-to-wheel racing acumen is not that uncommon. Look at Schumacher’s 2nd stint, Massa post-2009, Hakkinen of 2001, Hamilton of 2011 (The last 2 examples were not drastic downturns, but mild loss of form) for example. While Vettel’s fall from grace is by far the largest, there is precedence and his 4 championships are definitely still deserved.

        1. Not at all. He lucked into 4 WDC. Thats where the unrealistic expectations of him (which he could never live up to) started. Ferrari fell for it as expected since they are not the smartest to say the least. Aston is a different story and is about Marketing. They know Vettel has never been top notch.

          1. Of course it was all luck. He never had any great races under pressures, was always winning from the front row and didnt show great recovery drives where he had to work his way through the field. :facepalm:

            I guess its time you go back and watch some of the races again, like Brazil 2012.

          2. I presume this is sarcastic. You can’t luck in to 4 titles. It’s a serious indictment of the sport to suggest you can luck in to a title at all. Vettel was the class of the field in 2011, 2013 and for large parts of 2010 and 2012. He exploited his car advantage in the same way Schumacher and Hamilton did.

    2. Maybe the Red Bull had something to do with it. We’ll never know. ;-p

  4. There is absolutely no truth in the disgusting rumour that he asked for his mother to be present in the garage to hold his hand. People who broadcast this sort of stuff should be hung drawn and quartered.

    1. Hahahaha, didnt hear that one. Hilarious, dont believe it for a second hahaha

  5. Yet Hulkenberg is able to jump in a car hours before a race and compete in it. Vettel was champion in 2013 which is millennia ago. He is wealthy and complacent. His hunger and edge is gone. He screwed around in the Ferrari last season out of spite. One would have thought he would be redeeming his Ferrari snub this year but we get the “woe is me” Seb. I don’t blame him as age and wealth change one’s perspective. This is why you don’t see too many athletes in any sport being at the top of the game for a long time. It is a rare quality. I believe this what Hamilton thinks about too.

    1. I thought the same thing about Hulkenberg. If he could do it, why a 4xWDC can’t?
      I believe Vettel is in denial. The sooner he accepts he’s not that quick, the better results he’ll achieve.
      He’s becoming that last year Schumacher squeezing former teammate Barrichello against a concrete wall for no reason.

  6. playstation361
    1st April 2021, 12:16

    Sometimes he is a bit slow. Few drivers in the end give up on good days with problems.

  7. Bingo! Full set of excuses right there.

    What do I win?

  8. Lots of hate for Seb today.
    I’d say he’s settling in just fine. Sounds like an honest report of what he needs to do and what the team needs to do which is exactly why he’s at Aston Martin.
    I’m sure he feels much less handled than when he was with Ferrari which should help get his form up to scratch that much faster.
    I expect really strong drives from Seb this year.

    1. I don’t hate Seb and I’m not kicking him whilst he’s down. I think Ferrari treated him badly last year. I was actually hoping that this year he was going to drive in top form which would show that he was dogging it at Ferrari last year. But at some point what we’re seeing is what is what is happening. He can’t continue to finish 4 or more places behind his teammate.

      1. @jimfromus

        He can’t continue to finish 4 or more places behind his teammate.

        Behind Lance Stroll… yes.. Baby Lance, who finished behind a retiring Massa, tow years spent behind Perez.. and was often slower than a rookie Sirotkin.

        Honestly, if Vettel finishes behind Lance this season on points .. I wouldn’t even consider him good enough to be on the grid.

    2. I don’t hate Seb either. The blather has been, that unless he is in the fastest car and starts up front, he doesn’t win. And that he is not that good in traffic. People have been saying for years. At the time, that’s exactly how it looked. Sadly, it looks that way now too.

  9. It’s easy to kick a driver when he’s down. I think to judge his AM career solely on one race where he’s got really unlucky with yellow flags in qualifying, starting at the back of pack in a car that has taken a big hit with the new regs is a bit harsh.

    I wasn’t a fan of Vettel in the Red Bull days (definitely something about that team!), but you cannot say he lucked into wins there. He had a quick car and converted it into 4 championships, and as much as he could lead from the front, he definitely had races coming through the pack as well. At the time you could tell he wasn’t Alonso/Hamilton level (as much as pundits tried to say) but he was definitely a very high level.

    In fans’ eyes drivers are only as good as their last season (race if they’re really fickle), so Vettel doesn’t look good right now. But I think it’s only fair to give him 5 races or so before making a judgement. Perez and Riccardo have made similar comments about needing time yet no one seems to have a go at them when they say that!

    1. @burden93 “lucked” might not be the right word, but he really only wins from the front row and when no other driver pressures him during the race. So he needs to be in the fastest car, starting from front row with a team mate that is either poor or held back. If any of that is not the case he tends to make big mistakes.

      Even in 2009 when people like to pretend Button only won because he had the fastest car. Button really won that because it perhaps was marginally faster at the start, but mostly because Vettel crashed into Kubica in the first race then spun of at Malaysia and crashed out of Monaco as well. That’s 3 race ending driver errors in the first 6 races!

  10. Is it really necessary with these daily Vettel-bad articles?

  11. You don’t luck into 4 wdc’s. Mark Webber statistically has more wins and podiums than Ricciardo – 9 wins and 42 podiums and he was in contention for the 2010 championship at the last race. Ricciardo won 3 races in 2014 because something happened to both Mercedes cars. The same with his other wins except for Monaco.
    Vettel was up against a very competitive Webber in winning those 4 wdc’s .

    Reply moderated
  12. Sergey Martyn
    2nd April 2021, 9:26

    Well, Seb, go home then.

  13. “But I’m not at home in the car. There’s a lot of things that are fighting me so that I can’t really focus on driving.”

    This might be a bit silly, but he’s saying that the car is fighting him.. To extract maximum out of the current car I think he should “become one with the car”, not percieve that it’s fighting him.

    Reply moderated
    1. From what I recall, during the Red Bull 4 WDCs period, SV was able to rely on and adapt to the blown diffuser with his driving style. Apparently better than most others including Weber. The car was also fast and stable if driven correctly.
      The current cars don’t have the same rear grip or stability and the low rake cars, even less so.
      It just may be that he won’t come to “grips” with the AM as it is, this season. The 2022 cars will be different and may suit his style better. Question then is … will he still be around.?

      1. If he doesn’t find performance this year, I guess it depends on who is available to replace him for 2022. Vettel is a big name no matter what and I think AM would replace him only with a pretty established driver.

        Sainz is one good option if Ferrari takes Mick. Sainz is young, fast experienced and has marketing value. Hamilton would be a dream for AM, but it’s obviously very unsure that he’d be willing to join the English brand. Bottas may have a shot if he doesn’t get another year with Mercedes. He’d bring experience and solid performance, but it wouldn’t be an exciting deal for AM.

        Otherwise I think Vettel gets another year even if he doesn’t perform this year.

      2. The current cars don’t have the same rear grip or stability and the low rake cars, even less so.

        Ha, please tell Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon that low rake cars have even less rear grip than the high-rake ones… Somewhere else I read that the rear stability provided by low-rake could even become an advantage for Vettel’s driving style.

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