Sebastian Vettel never hid the fact that the man who inspires him is Michael Schumacher. And Seb always dreamed of winning titles behind the wheel of a red car like his compatriot. In 2015, it seemed like the main dream of the four-time world champion would come true. But here there is no place for a beautiful fairy tale, and with the leave from Red Bull Racing, his career began to go downhill. This season will be the last for Sebastian with Scuderia Ferrari – it was recently announced that Vettel will join Racing Point, which will change the name to Aston Martin F1 next year. So what’s really in store for Sebastian here?
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2015 – dreams come true
In 2014, at the end of the season, it was announced that Sebastian Vettel would replace Fernando Alonso in the Scuderia. For Vettel, joining Ferrari meant everything: “When I was a kid, Michael Schumacher in the red car was my greatest idol and now it’s an incredible honour to finally get the chance to drive a Ferrari. I will put my heart and soul into making it happen.”
The debut season goal for Sebastian that was set by Scuderia’s boss Maurizio Arrivabene was two wins. And already in the second race of the season, in Malaysia, Sebastian wins a landslide victory. Then there were two more victories in Hungary and Singapore. Seb was even ahead of Rosberg in the championship for some time, but the accident in Mexico and Nico’s powerful finish in the championship deprived Vettel of the vice-championship. However, the team was pleased with the result and it seemed that Scuderia had found its new shiny star.
2016 – dreams start shattering
Inspired by the performances of Sebastian, the team sets new goals – the win in the constructors’ cup. In the off-season, Scuderia invested many resources to improve their car. All Scuderia’s champion hopes were on those four wheels.
But in the middle of the season, it became clear that the designed car was far from a championship-winning one. It noticeably lacked speed, often let down the engine and gearbox, lacked downforce, and even there was the problem with tire consumption. Also sometimes, the team’s strategy was unsuccessful. Even Sebastian’s masterful control of the car did not save the team from tension and evident bad mood.
After the holidays, the real chaos began for Ferrari – CTO James Alison left the team, what subsequently entailed a lot of mistakes from the strategic side and from the side of team leader Maurizio Arrivabene. Vettel was disappointed and did not hesitate to intervene in the affairs of the team to help with solving the problems. At the end of the season, Vettel received harsh criticism from the team leader that the German driver needs to concentrate on controlling the car and doesn’t interfere with what doesn’t concern him. The criticism was caused by an unexpected imposed struggle of his teammate Kimi Raikkonen. All of these moments obviously influenced Sebastian’s results and his mental condition.
When I was a kid, Michael Schumacher in the red car was my greatest idol, and now it’s an incredible honour to finally get the chance to drive a Ferrari. I will put my heart and soul into making it happen.
2017 – rebirth
Under the leadership of the new technical director Mattio Binnoto, Ferrari built a new car in the offseason. Vettel dove into the season in his best form and won four races before the summer break despite the fact that Scuderia was still slightly behind of Mercedes. Hamilton called Vettel’s season start “a champion start”. Needless to say, Ferrari were thrilled to hear quotes like this again.
After the Hungarian GP, Vettel was ahead of Hamilton by 14 points, and Scuderia was preparing to sign a new three-year contract with this prince of rebirth, Seb. It seemed that the driver’s dream to become a champion with a red Ferrari car was finally coming true. Nevertheless, after Hungary, the team began to experience serious technical problems with the car, they had some problems with tactics again, and Vettel made a few mistakes on the track under Hamilton’s pressure. No trophy once more.
2018 – the beginning of the end
Despite the real blow in 2017 for Sebastian, the start of the 2018 season resulted in him winning four of the first ten races, but then, in the second half of the season, things fell apart again. An endless series of Vettel’s mistakes rolled through the tracks: a reversal in fighting wheel-to-wheel with Hamilton in Monza; a reversal when trying to overtake Verstappen in Japan; a reversal in a wheel-to-wheel fight with Riccardo in Austin, and so forth.
Sebastian seemed to be absolutely crushed by his failures. Also, things were not going smoothly within the team. By that time, key decisions had been made in Scuderia that had serious consequences for Vettel. Even before Marchionne’s death, John Elkann and Louis Camilleri were promoted to the company management. Ferrari’s new leaders have pledged to fulfil their president’s wishes and replace Kimi Raikkonen with young star Charles Leclerc. Also that winter also Maurizio Arrivabene ceased to be the head of the Ferrari Formula 1 team. He was replaced by Mattia Binnotto.
2019 – global permutations
In 2019, in the first race of the season, unexpectedly for all, Ferrari had to use team tactics so that Charles would be behind Seb. The newcomer of the team was not going to give up – he had every chance of winning in four races of the first half of the season, whereas Sebastian had only one promising race – the Canadian GP, in which he would have been the winner if not for the penalty for an unsafe return to the track in the fight against Hamilton. Sebastian made another mistake under pressure and publically talked about his psychological fragility. The summer break benefited Charles – he had two impressive victories in Spa and Monza.
I still have so much love for Formula 1 and my only motivation is to race at the front of the grid. To do so with Aston Martin will be a huge privilege.
At the same time, Sebastian was completely destroyed by his teammate’s results, by the talks about the illegality of the power plant, and by the collision with Charles in a race. The victory in Singapore came a bit loo tale in order to restore something – relationships within the team were torn. The Italian press considered Leclerc a hero and continued to harshly criticise Sebastian.
2020 – last season in a red car
During the COVID-19 “vacation”, Scuderia Ferrari announced that they signed a contract with Carlos Sainz and the team doesn’t need Sebastian’s services anymore. Considering that Seb wouldn’t want to be number two in the team, and also given the extremely tense relations inside Ferrari, perhaps this was the only correct option for both sides – not to renew the contract. On September 10, it was announced that Vettel would join Aston Martin next season.
2021 – Aston Martin
Despite much controversy over the copying of the Racing Point car from the 2019 Mercedes, the team will be renamed to Aston Martin. It took a huge step forward in 2020, becoming the third fastest car on the grid.
Nevertheless, with all due respect to the current drivers of the team, they do not have a clear leader who can help with the correct technical development of the car and the team. Sebastian Vettel has 53 race victories and he is a four-time world champion – only Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, and Juan Manuel Fangio have more victories and titles. Aston Martin will receive much more than his titles and victories, it is no secret that Sebastian is a hardworking person who takes handwritten notes on the behaviour of the machine after each training session. He has folders with these recordings at his home in Switzerland, and they represent only a small part of the 14 years of Formula 1 experience that Aston Martin bought by signing a contract with Vettel.
Of course, Sebastian’s form has been questioned many times over the past few years. But moving to a new team might be an inspiring turn for the 33-year-old, who is still confident he can give even more to the motorsport world. After signing the deal, Seb noted: “I still have so much love for Formula 1 and my only motivation is to race at the front of the grid. To do so with Aston Martin will be a huge privilege”. No one doubts that Vettel will be the team’s number one, and perhaps with his help the team will build an ideal car for the German racer. And if this happens, then we might again see the same Sebastian that we’ve seen in the beginning of the 2010s.