Top 5 moments of Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari
Few drivers are as respected as they critiqued other than Sebastian Vettel. Even fewer have gone on to challenge the might and authority of Lewis Hamilton, albeit unsuccessfully, up until now.
A man of immense talent and someone who grew up admiring the great Michael Schumacher, it was only a matter of time before Vettel began attaining ascendency in a sport he truly admired, once he burst on the scene in the US Grand Prix of 2007.
Following his incredible win under the rains at the famous Italian Grand Prix of 2008, wherein he grabbed his maiden pole, big things were to happen to the man from Heppenheim. For someone who's won not one or two but four incredible world titles, going on to establish a literal reign during his fancy years at Red Bull, life couldn't have been better when Vettel was awarded a seat at Ferrari, his dream outfit.
But what one's seen from the start of the 2015 season, up until now, has been a driver who more often than not, seems fraught with some form of conflict. Whether it's his failure to come to terms with what he's really up against- the threat of facing Hamilton in a much abler machine- or the overwhelming demand to win a title with Ferrari, one doesn't know.
But what one certainly understands is that despite the ups and downs at the Prancing Horse, Sebastian Vettel, a man with 52 wins against his name has delivered some exhilarating performances for the Italian outfit.
On the occasion of his 32nd birthday, let's visit the top 5 moments of Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari:
Ruling the night safari at Sakhir, 2018 Bahrain GP
No other driver has won at Sakhir- the home to Bahrain Grand Prix- on more occasions than Sebastian Vettel. With four epic wins, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel has sort of stamped his authority at a venue where not even Lewis Hamilton has secured as many wins as the German.
And that told, one of Vettel's 52 wins came at the electrifying night safari at a time where Mercedes' onslaught on Ferrari in the season hadn't begun.
These were early days in the 2018 season. And with Vettel picking the second win of the year, starting from Melbourne, where he had utterly dominated, Ferrari's campaign was off to a flier. At this time, the German driver's scorecard read 50 beautifully-accumulated points.
From a traditional standpoint, Sakhir's design has suited the build of the Ferrari machines. And so in 2018, when Vettel zoomed past the checkered flag, one understood why everyone said that under the night skies, the superior straight-line speed of the Ferraris would be hard to match for any rival out there.
Qualifying on pole, Vettel outpaced then-teammate Kimi Raikkonen by nearly eight-tenths of a second and then, on race day, hardly left anything to imagination in a nicely-controlled race wherein he'd lead right from the start, i.e., in the run down to Turn 1.
Facing-saving effort for Ferrari 2019 Chinese GP
There possibly couldn't have been a more momentous date in F1 history other than an incredible recent occasion this season: the 2019 Chinese Grand Prix. The race at Shanghai marked the sport's 1000th Grand Prix contest.
Against a big occasion and in front of Mercedes' sheer dominance with the team having won both the races previously, including those at Melbourne (in Australia) and Bahrain (at Sakhir), a strong finish from Ferrari would've added more spice to what was seeming a one-sided narrative.
Not that Sebastian Vettel waved the checkered flag in the end and won hands down. But his sheer effort in the form of well-fought P3 in the end, behind the two Mercedes gave Ferrari fans something to cheer about.
What was slightly dramatic in the much-anticipated and widely-followed race at Shanghai was the fact that the two Ferrari drivers seemed to be racing with each other. To most, it seemed a stragetic blunder, arguably stemming from a lack of direction from the strategy department.
So instead of targetting the Mercedes drivers who began chipping away right at the start, Vettel and Leclerc were contesting one another for track position. Later on, only Vettel appeared to be waging a lonely battle and could salvage a third, only the second podium for the Scuderia upto that point in the ongoing season.
Raw pace and a one-sided triumph at Spa, 2018 Belgian GP
In another couple of months time, Sebastian Vettel would head to Spa-Francorchamps, a venue that marked his 52nd Grand Prix win in the top annals of the sport.
Now if one were to think of it, then it's a bit embarrassing and strange at the same time that not since the Belgian Grand Prix victory of 2018 has the famous German talent gone on to register another race against his name.
It's absurd from a Ferrari point of view that during this time, the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Vettel's arch-rival has won 12 contests in the aftermath of the 2018 Belgian contest.
But a little under a year back, Vettel was in full form, making the most of his SF 70H's straight-line speed in a high-speed, fast-paced Belgian run in the picturesque Ardennes contest.
Making light work of his Mercedes opponents- Lewis and Valtteri - the German driver delivered a literal blitzkrieg; a lightning-fast attack over his staunchest opponents in 2018 and registered a comfortable win involving a classic Ferrari one-stop.
What was incredible about Vettel's win was the fact that the Ferrari driver would go onto snatch the lead of the race from none other than Lewis, the pole-sitter. Spurred by the incredible straight-line speed of his Ferrari, Vettel hung Hamilton out to dry in the end, the Mercedes doing little to dominate the prancing horse.
What's interesting is that Spa happens to be a venue where, as on date, both the five-time world champion as well as the four-time world champion have both won on 3 occasions.
A brilliant season-opening win at the 2017 Australian GP
If there's another track where Ferrari have gone on to demonstrate a literal one-sided dominance then its Melbourne, home to the Australian Grand Prix.
Their successes at the behest of Vettel's wins here- in 2017 and 2018 editions- have been much acclaimed for they came at a time of Lewis Hamilton's utter dominance in the sport.
But back in 2017, much before the contemporary Sebastian Vettel (a bit flustered, out of sync and not really that consistent) came to the fore, the Prancing Horse found little competition in the season-opening venue.
Two years back, Vettel, looking in great form, qualifying second for the big race but only behind Lewis Hamilton in a dominant Mercedes. Qualifying only three-tenths of a second behind that year's world champion, Sebastian Vettel showed that Ferrari were ready for the challenge on race day.
Then, finally, on the race-day, Vettel began steadily, emerging unscathed into the first corner, in hot pursuit of Lewis Hamilton. For the first five laps, the battle for track position raged on with Bottas, on third, beginning to appear in Vettel's mirrors.
Later on, on Lap 18, Hamilton pitted for fresh rubber which meant that the race was being controlled by the German. Vettel was now 9 seconds ahead of second-placed Bottas. The big moment of the race arrived 6 laps later.
Making most of a strategic master-stroke by Ferrari, Vettel, comfortably into the lead, pitted and emerged just behind Raikkonen, who then led the race. But the ultimate result of this brilliantly timed Ferrari overcut meant that the German would emerge ahead of a pursuing Hamilton.
Then, through sheer race pace, Vettel defied the British driver for the rest of the contest to take the checkered flag.
Sheer dominance at the 2017 Hungarian GP
Not a track where Sebastian Vettel has won on a lot many occasions, it can be said his iron-fisted triumph here in the heart of Hungary in 2017 could well be described as one of his best wins ever.
At a venue where Hamilton's won on an incredible 6 occasions, Vettel delivered an enticing victory two seasons ago after snatching pole a day earlier. With the qualifying battle largely being reduced to the two Ferraris keen to outdo one other, Vettel eclipsed Raikkonen, finishing just over a tenth of a second at the Mogyorod.
The 70-lap contest fought under clear blue skies was to be the race where a cheery Vettel would emerge on the podium striking the famous, "dance like an Egyptian pose!" And boy did that image make headlines or what?
Winning arguably his best-ever race at Hungary, his first victory coming in 2015, Vettel began well in the run-up to the first corner with Kimi tucked right behind him. Just when Raikkonen would have thought to seize the lead, Vettel moved across to cut his teammate to retain track position.
Immediately then, Sebastian Vettel began chipping away from a gathering crowd that included the two Mercedes driver, hot on his teammate's tail. The action-packed race brought out the safety car right after the completion of Lap 1 but that would do little to offset the German's concentration.
By the time of the start of Lap 6, Vettel was clearly over a second in front of Raikkonen. The pack moved along unchanged. But from the onset of Lap 18, the battle between the two Ferraris intensified, Kimi finding a lot of grip to challenge his opposite number in the red car. The gap between the German and the Finn now only a little over a second.
Later, Vettel pitted and rejoined behind Verstappen on second. By Lap 39, the only concern for Vettel was that the Red Bull driver had the track position leading his Ferrari by over 10 seconds.
A few laps later, as Verstappen pitted whilst also serving a ten-second penalty for making unfair contact with Ricciardo, his then-teammate, it was advantage Sebastian Vettel. With only 27 laps to go and the Ferrari controlling the race with dominant straight line speed, there was little that anyone could do to topple the German.
In the end, Raikkonen, who climbed back onto second following his stop earlier could only do as much as cutting down the gap to the race leader. The divide between the two Ferrari's being only 1.2 seconds. An unchallenged Vettel would go onto claim victory akin to a morning jog in the park. It was to be a memorable occasion for the two teammates who had so much respect for one another, the Ferraris managing a 1-2 finish.