The regularity with which Sebastian Vettel is making errors can no longer be dismissed as coincidence, according to Formula 1’s managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn.
Vettel spun after contact with Max Verstappen in Japan and then followed that with a grid penalty in Austin and another spin in the race when fighting Daniel Ricciardo. On both occasions the German was unable to finish on the podium as a result, with Lewis Hamilton’s title celebrations only delayed by a Kimi Raikkonen victory at Circuit of The Americas on Sunday (pictured above: Vettel watching Raikkonen enjoy the winner’s interview).
“On a weekend on which Kimi demonstrated that the Ferrari was once again really quick, the other side of the coin is represented by Sebastian Vettel, who was again no stranger to mistakes,” Brawn said.
“On Friday there was a small one, when he failed to slow sufficiently for red flags, and he paid the price with a three-place penalty. Then, in the race, he yet again collided with a Red Bull, this time Ricciardo’s, and once again Vettel came off worst.
“It was another lost opportunity to close the gap in the title fight, especially when we saw what Raikkonen did with the same car. I certainly don’t want to put Vettel in the dock, but these incidents can no longer be seen as coincidence, but rather they would seem to indicate that Sebastian is a bit out of sorts at the moment.”
Brawn says it is down to Ferrari to work out how to make sure Vettel maximizes his potential, pointing to the way Red Bull guided him to four world championships.
“It’s a shame because this year, the Maranello team has been able to give him a really competitive car right — right from the start of the season. Since the start of the hybrid era, Mercedes has never faced such stiff opposition and has never had to push development as much as it has this year. That’s down to the men and women who work at Ferrari and obviously, that includes the drivers.
“Now, any hope of bringing the Drivers’ title back to Maranello is dwindling and the time has come to do the math. Their most important task is to work out how to help Vettel make the most of his massive talent. You don’t become a four-time world champion for no reason and Sebastian has definitely not forgotten how to win.
“In a sport as complicated as Formula 1, you only reach your goals if all the pieces of the jigsaw fall into place. If just one piece is missing everything is compromised.”