Vettel mustn’t let downturn “snowball out of control” – Webber

2021 F1 season

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The driver who partnered Sebastian Vettel while he was at the height of his powers at Red Bull says the coming races will be “crucial” for him to reverse his recent downturn in form.

Mark Webber was Vettel’s team mate at Red Bull from 2009 to 2013, during which time the four-times world champion won each of his titles. But Vettel was unable to replicate that success during his subsequent spell at Ferrari, and following a poor 2020 campaign has joined Aston Martin for this season.

Speaking to RaceFans in an exclusive interview, Webber said he believes the extent of Vettel’s plight at Ferrari was only hinted at by footage of the tense atmosphere at the team in the recent Netflix series Drive to Survive.

“It’s really, really hard to know how all this has happened,” said Webber. “But I think it’s pretty clear – I’ve watched a bit of the Drive To Survive and you know [that] if that’s what’s coming out, the inside of Ferrari must have been quite challenging for him.

“So he was looking for a change of scenery. But we’re always measured on what we’re doing in the car.”

Vettel is “his toughest critic”, says Webber
Vettel endured a tough first weekend with his new team in Bahrain, collecting five penalty points and colliding with Esteban Ocon on his way to 15th place. Webber suspects Vettel has found a more comfortable environment at Aston Martin but questioned whether it will bring him the success he craves.

“I think he’d be happier at Aston Martin – certainly be happier there Monday to Friday. But what’s the stopwatch doing? That’s the biggest barometer and he knows that better than anyone.

“He’s his toughest critic. He’s going to be really hard on himself. It’s easy for this stuff to snowball out of control. And that’s what his mission has got to be now is to make sure this doesn’t snowball out of control, that he can get back on the horse and have sort of some feeling with this car.

“Because it doesn’t matter what your name is or your trophy cabinet has been, every year in Formula 1 you’ve got to deliver and he knows that as well. So the next six or seven races are going to be crucial for him.”

“He’s an extremely old dog in terms of new tricks now,” Webber added, “and that’s something which, again, a lot of it’s on Seb’s watch. So it’s a lot down to him.

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“I think there’ll be no lack of enthusiasm in the new team to try and muster up what they can. But I just think a lot of it’s down to Seb in terms of getting to these next few events and the stopwatch can just stop a lot of this rot and that’s what he’s just going to be craving for as soon as possible.”

Sebastian Vettel, Charles Leclerc, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021
Ferrari is “like an old, stately home” compared to Red Bull
Vettel drove for Ferrari between 2015 and 2020. Webber came close to signing for the team before his retirement at the end of 2013.

“I don’t regret not going there,” he said. “I think the passion, that’s the biggest thing, it’s that Italian fans, somehow it’s a drug for you, that you would love to go and represent them and drive [for] them.

“To have success with them, it must be like no other team in the world. It’s like an old, stately home. Red Bull have had a great success, but that’s a ‘new build’.

“Ferrari have been around forever and to have your name etched in their history, if you have big results with them, is special. But I don’t know how sentimental they are.”

Mark Webber was speaking to RaceFans for an upcoming edition of My F1 Cars

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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19 comments on “Vettel mustn’t let downturn “snowball out of control” – Webber”

  1. Vettel’s problem isn’t one of technical driving skill, but one of mental capabilities.
    You saw him deteriorating at Ferrari.
    The 2017 wheelbanging with Hamilton, the swearing and shouting at Charlie, beaching his car in Germany 2018, blaming others for incidents and accidents he has caused.

    It is more and more apparant that Vettel is grasping at straws trying to hang on, and not being able to do so.

    You saw it this first race as well, things aren’t going as expected or planned, and he just loses it.
    I wonder whether he has got a mental coach or a sports psychologist? Because we haven’t seen a new Vettel at Aston Martin, just more of the same Vettel from Ferrari.

    Reply moderated
    1. SadF1fan I’ve never been a big SV fan but I do like the guy and I’ve defended him around here when I have felt the rhetoric was over the top, but I think you’ve been pretty fair and accurate with your comment here. I agree with your last sentence too, but I just hope for his sake that first race was just him needing more time with the team and the car as is so often the case with new drivers to a team, even when they are veterans.

      I found MW’s comments to be fair and informative as well. I do wish SV the best.

  2. Pretty much just a statement of the obvious.

    My only hope is that if Seb finds himself unable to get back some decent form, he gracefully retires with some dignity.

    I’m confident he’ll work his butt off for AM and expect to see him improving massively from this weekend onwards.

    1. I see two ways of how he could deal with it:
      1) He accepted to drive what he thought would be the next best thing after Mercedes. It seems not to be the case so far, so all he can do is beat Stroll Jr in a convincing way and wait for next year.
      2) He gets even, or worst, gets beat by Stroll. So he could just gracefully say goodbye due to “personal matters”, “being closer to my family” or something else.

      I just hope he doesn’t put Stroll out of some race, or decide not to follow racing orders. He’s been there. He knows. Did he learn? Muss das sein?

  3. Drawing any conclusions from watching “Drive to Survive” is a mistake

    1. @pastaman Perhaps it might from someone in their armchairs, but MW has been inside F1 of course, so I’m sure he’s pretty well equipped to suss out what is real and what is ‘Hollywood’ from the show.

      1. I might agree with you if he wasn’t a media personality now

  4. I think a lot of Vettels future depends on how he stacks up against Lance, and whether he can stay away from is prima dona status within a team (the kind he got a Red bull and first few years at Ferrari). He’s got to stay humble and just focus on getting back in form.

    If he’s beating Lance occasionally… They’ll want to keep him unless he starts demanding #1 driver status.

    If he starts thrashing Lance.. It might not appeal to Papa Stroll or Lance.. And that might cause friction.

    If Lance comfortably beats him.. I don’t see why Aston would want him around… Or why Vettel would want to stick around either.

    Honestly, it’s not going to be as easy for Vettel here as well. Ferrari is a political team, but Aston with Stroll as boss also might throw in some complications.

    1. @Todford
      Papa Stroll will have thought all this out before he went hunting for Seb. Big businessmen usually do, and don’t like to be caught out later.
      It’s possible he even discussed all the different scenarios you rightly point to, with Seb himself.

      I think they expect and want Seb to raise the profile of AM, even if he thrashes Baby Stroll in the process.

    2. @todfod I really don’t see SV demanding #1 status on the team at any point, even if he ends up besting LS. I’m sure SV instinctively knows they wouldn’t do that to LS, relegate him to some designated number 2 status, and why would they even need a 1 and 2 when they are fighting to just retain 4th in the WCC while they hope for 3rd?

      No I think it is closer to what Rodber is saying about them just needing SV’s Championship experience to help raise AM’s profile as they make their moves to becoming a top team eventually.

    3. As an italian who loves grammar I get annoyed when I see stuff like “torro rosso” or “prima dona”, in this case it’s “donna”, in any case I’m not sure if he will recover, 2020 vettel was terrible and I don’t blame ferrari, it’s vettel who put them in a difficult situation by not performing late 2018 when they had a car able to challenge for title, more so than in 2017, so after that you can question the car performance, but that year only vettel’s, however if you take early 2018 and 2017 vettel for example he should be able to beat stroll, so we’ll see how he does at AM, I can say I don’t like him as a person either though, constantly criticizes other drivers for his own mistakes, example the last one, hitting ocon, is very similar to a silverstone mistake that happened few years ago, probably 2019 because the number 2 driver at red bull was not performing, so it couldn’t have been 2018, where he hit verstappen and blamed him as well, and look at the case got a penalty.

  5. We all deride Seb mercilessly here, but don’t let Webber patronise him.

    Webber has a lot of previous with Seb, and now he wants to kick while Seb is down. A respectful silence would be more becoming. Even more so in the case of a past journeyman talking about a 4 time champion.

    1. Not sure how you came to that conclusion.
      Webber doesn’t particularly dislike Vettel. There is quite a lot of respect between them.

      As far as their difficulties while together at Red Bull are concerned – Webber’s nemesis wasn’t in the other car, they were elsewhere in the garage.

    2. You mean the same Webber that quite explicitly stated in his book that he accepted how Seb was the better, more complete, driver?

      And let’s be honest, it’s not exactly patronising at this point – Seb’s performance has been under scrutiny since his final season at RBR against Daniel. Being beaten by a young, hungry and obviously very talented Ricciardo is no shame, nor is being shaded by a generational talent like Leclerc… But I worry about what questions will get asked Seb doesn’t comprehensibly beat Stroll.

    3. Rodber I thought MW was being fair and diplomatic with his viewpoint.

    4. Webber only stating the obvious, nothing more nothing less. It was a fair enough assessment. Since the RBR years Seb has been on an inexorable downwards slide which he doesn’t seem to be able to arrest. The biggest clanger was his crash out of the lead at the German GP a few years ago, hi never recovered from that nightmare mentally. Blaming everything and everybody else for your own shortcomings is a desperate attempt to deflect attention away from your performances.
      Not sure he’s going to see the season out.

      Reply moderated
  6. Much of Vettel’s success in the Red Bull was during the blown diffuser era. Something he mastered better than most others, including Webber. Current problem is that the Aston Martin, like the other low rake cars, does not have the same rear stability that Vettel likes. Hence … “Houston we have a problem.”
    Beating Lance S. in the other car is not going to be easy, for a bunch of reasons. I wish him well and hope it works out.
    Side-note to N. Hulk, keep training and stay sharp.
    The answer should be clear before they head to Canada in June. That is if there is race in Canada.

    1. @rekibsn That’s a really good point about the AM low rake car and potential rear end stability issues that might be a real thorn in SV’s side in righting the ship.

  7. After 3 years, this looks like a snowman, not a snowball.

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