Ah yes, that brings us on to Sebastian Vettel. Perhaps one of the most perplexing scenarios we’ve seen in Formula 1 in a long time. This is the same driver that dominated in the early part of the last decade to win four straight championships, and looked revitalised when he joined Ferrari after a tough 2014.
Alongside Kimi Raikkonen – who now at Alfa Romeo has shown he’s still got it – Vettel was dominant, but then two title chances slipped away in 2017 and 2018.
That seemed to break his resolve. Leclerc came in last year and matched Vettel, and the German’s cage was definitely rattled. Then ever since the announcement he would not be retained, his performances have dropped off a cliff.
Unlike the Albon and Verstappen comparison, though, Vettel doesn’t feel there is a specific characteristic of the Ferrari that can explain the deficit between himself and Leclerc.
“No, I don’t think so,” Vettel insists, despite what Horner says. “I think you know, I’ve been racing for a long time. And sometimes you have cars going your way, sometimes not your way. But apart from that, you’re trying to adapt as soon as you can. And that’s something you always have to do and I’m doing also this year, so nothing has changed in this regard.
“But it’s about the question of how much grip you feel is there and how much then you’re using. So in this regard, maybe Charles is able to feel different grip or a different area of the car that I’m not feeling. Clearly, I’m not going as fast and not able to feel it for whatever reason.”
For such an experienced driver to be speaking in such terms is surprising. Either Vettel is at a complete loss as to why he can’t match Leclerc, or he’s not driving the same car. And he attempts to dismiss the latter notion.
“I think that I have to think that we have the same car, I trust the people around me and in the garage. I have one picture that is told to me by the stopwatch at the end of the lap, the other thing is by my feeling. Feeling wise I really struggle to put the good laps together, be consistent and feel the grip that maybe Charles is able to feel.
“I’m working on it and there’s nothing else other than work that will get me out of it so I think together with the team around me I’ll try to make the maximum. Hopefully I’ll be in a better place next week.