BusyFormula #007: Is this Sebastian Vettel’s long-awaited return to form?


Sebastian Vettel has not had the best time in Formula1 these last few years. His form has been less than that of the four-time World Champion we all came to know and fear.

It was not that long ago that he was a genuine Championship contender in 2017 and 2018, the latter of which many believed him to be the favorite before he capitulated to Hamilton in the second half of the season.

After 2018 however, we did not see anything from Vettel that suggested that he still had what it took to fight for the World Championship or win a race.

He won only one race in 2019 and 2020 combined and finished behind new Ferrari signing Charles Leclerc in both seasons. It was no surprise that Charles became the front runner for Ferrari, and Vettel was sent packing at the end of the 2020 season.

Outclassed by Charles Leclerc at Ferrari

Like Daniel Ricciardo did at Red Bull in 2014, Charles Leclerc completely outclassed the four-time World Champion in his debut season in Ferrari in 2019.

Charles hit the ground running in his first season at Ferrari, finishing on the podium at ten races and winning two of them in Belgium and Ferrari’s home race in Italy.

That second win was particularly delicious for Ferrari since they hadn’t won a race at their home Grand Prix since Fernando Alonso won it in 2010. Sebastian Vettel, who won it twice with Red Bull and once with Toro Rosso, did not manage the feat even once for Ferrari.

In addition to those two wins, Charles Leclerc finished in the points in every race that he made it to the flag. He finished in the top ten every time he completed the race in the 2019 season. That was impressive for a driver only in his second year in F1 at the time.

Leclerc should also have won the Bahrain Grand Prix of 2019 had he not been let down by reliability issues on his Ferrari. He also should have started on pole in Azerbaijan, where he was fastest all weekend but crashed in Q2.

Leclerc also won the pole positions battle that year. He started on pole seven times in 2019, beating out both Hamilton and Bottas on five.

Vettel, on the other hand, only started on pole twice. Coincidentally, the only race that Vettel won in 2019 was another race that Charles Leclerc should have won.

Vettel won in Singapore despite Charles Leclerc leading most of the race. A pitstop error by Ferrari put Vettel on the preferred strategy, which helped him inherit the lead from his teammate and go on to win his only race of the season.

In addition to winning one race the entire 2019 season, Vettel finished twenty-four points behind his teammate and fifth overall in the champion. As bad as that was, however, his performance would get much worse in 2020.

Vettel only managed 33 points all season and finished thirteenth in the championship, his worst position since 2007 when he joined the sport in the second half of the season.

2020 was by far his worst season in Formula1, and the fact that he was driving a Ferrari only made it worse. Many believed that he was over and was due to retire at the end of the season.

However, in a surprise move by Racing Point, Vettel was offered a seat and the ever-loyal Sergio Perez was let go. Many criticized the decision by Racing Point (now Aston Martin) since Vettel seemed like his best days were behind him.

Vettel comes good for Aston Martin

If the bosses at Aston Martin regretted signing Vettel after his disappointing showing in the first four races of the season, they definitely don’t regret it now.

His fifth-place finish in Monaco, followed by a second place in Azerbaijan, make him the second-highest scoring driver in the two street races behind Sergio Perez and the leading points scorer for Aston Martin Mercedes.

Vettel’s 28 points in those two races have helped Aston Martin climb past Alpine Renault to sixth in the Constructors’ Championship and are now just 2 points behind Alpha Tauri in fifth.

If Vettel continues with this streak of scoring points, he will take over as the team leader at Aston Martin, which he needs to do to secure his drive since his teammate can’t be fired.

Vettel’s resurgence couldn’t come soon enough for his fans who have been waiting for him to recover since his crash in Germany in 2018, when many believe his run of bad form began.

It’s good to have the 4 time World Champion back in form as this exciting 2021 season starts to heat up. It would be great if the entire season wasn’t just the Hamilton – Verstappen show. 

Julius Kakwenzire is a self-confessed F1 addict. When he’s not getting emotional at the race track’s proceedings, he’s working on great fintech products at Lupiiya.

Kakwenzire Julius