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F1 2019: 5 Reasons why Leclerc v Vettel will be close

George Howson
ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
523   //    20 Feb 2019, 21:03 IST

Vettel and Leclerc didn't battle much on-track in 2018, but that'll all change this year.
Vettel and Leclerc didn't battle much on-track in 2018, but that'll all change this year.

Between 2017 and 2018, the Formula 1 grid remained unusually static, as most drivers opted to stick rather than twist their team. However, that didn't transition into 2019, as only Haas and Mercedes will field the same two pilots as in the previous year.

What is probably the most interesting - and arguably the fastest - driver pairing is that at Ferrari, as academy driver Charles Leclerc has been promoted to partner Sebastian Vettel. Leclerc had one of the most impressive debut seasons in the sport's history in 2018, and is already being touted as a future world champion.

The man from Monaco has a lot to prove, but so does Vettel; the German still without a title in what is now his fifth season in red. This could well be the closest teammate battle in F1 this year, and here's why.

#1 All the Pressure is on Vettel

Vettel was the victim of his own downfall in 2018.
Vettel was the victim of his own downfall in 2018.

We all know how debilitating pressure and stress can be on our performance, be it in our personal or professional lives. After earning a dream move to Ferrari in 2015, Vettel is yet to follow in his hero's - Michael Schumacher - footsteps, as the Scuderia are still without a championship of any kind in over a decade.

Admittedly, that's not through the lack of trying, as Vettel has challenged Lewis Hamilton's supremacy in the first half of both the 2017 and '18 seasons, but collapsed in the second half twice.

No matter how strong you are mentally, that has to take a toll; even if Seb is ahead in the driver's championship going into the Summer break, he will be looking nervously over his shoulder at the competition.

You could argue that was what contributed to his collapse last year - had he stayed on the track in Hockenheim, we could've had a different five-time champion come Abu Dhabi.

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