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F1 2019: The Clock starts ticking for Sebastian Vettel

ANALYST
Feature
421   //    19 Mar 2019, 11:24 IST

Vettel could only manage a fourth place finish at the first race of the season
Vettel could only manage a fourth place finish at the first race of the season

Yes he was stuck behind Lewis Hamilton for 12 laps, yes he was on 14 laps older tires and yes the strategy put him at a huge disadvantage.

But despite all of that, the fact that Charles Leclerc, a 21-year-old rookie had to be told to stay back and not attack Sebastian Vettel in his very first race in the team is not going to go down well with the Tifosi.

Leclerc, even before he was called up from Sauber last year had already endeared himself with the Tifosi.

A young gun that has made remarkable strides throughout the career, a future star, a talent so good that Ferrari actually took the exception of not looking at his lack of experience as a factor for not hiring him.

To add to it, the back story involved with a lot of heartbreak of first losing his godfather Jules Bianchi and then his own Father just before a race weekend had bought a ticket to the hearts of the Tifosi.

Even before a race was done Tifosi loved the new sensation. Then come to the first race of the season Leclerc is stopped by the team from attacking the No.1 driver.

Even though the decision made perfect sense because, with both of them fighting for position they could have actually ended up tangling with each other which is just not desirable and secondly it doesn't matter what kind of a speed difference the two cars had, it was going to be very tough to actually pull out a move.

But will the Tifosi understand? The reports from the Italian media terming Vettel "Weak" certainly seem to suggest otherwise.

And that's where the problems have already begun for Vettel. Tifosi has seen him try and fail a tad too many times and last year many put the blame squarely on Vettel as he failed to stitch together another successful campaign.

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Signs from Melbourne are ominous for Ferrari and Vettel. They were around a minute behind Bottas and looked completely out of sorts.

All the talks of "Ferrari Domination", "half a second advantage" have gone up in smoke and what we saw was Vettel looking not only frustrated but dejected after the race.


Vettel already has a dual battle on his hands
Vettel already has a dual battle on his hands

He currently faces a battle both outside and inside the team with Leclerc snapping at his heels already and Mercedes running at a romping pace.

The first race would have already alienated him a bit in the eyes of the Tifosi and if Ferrari, a team not averse from Italian media pressures don't see Vettel being the leading man that he's supposed to then there would be question marks on what they do next as Vettel's contract runs out next year.

Many have said that this year could define Vettel's legacy in Formula One. Well the clock has started ticking for the German driver.

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