Sebastian Vettel is enjoying a resurgence of sorts in his F1 career. The German seems happy and is laughing all the time. When it comes to his on-track performance, he's arguably doing as good a job as any other driver on the grid. The magnitude of the impressiveness of Vettel's season this year is in the statistics. Let's take a look at a few numbers.
Sebastian Vettel has 13 points to his name this season compared to teammate Lance Stroll's 2. He has been out-qualified by Stroll only once this season in Miami. That's not all, however, as the German has kicked things up a notch since Spain.
At Barcelona, Vettel had a gap of half a second over Stroll in qualifying. In Monaco, Stroll was out of qualifying in Q1 while Vettel qualified in P9. More recently, in Baku, Stroll was P19, while Vettel was P9 again. While Stroll is no Max Verstappen, he is concurrently no Nicholas Latifi either. Stroll is a competent F1 driver with multiple podiums and a pole position to his name. Vettel, on the other hand, has hit a purple patch at Aston Martin and the team is reaping the rewards of it.
Now, Aston Martin is a team that has not generated much affection from the fans or the paddock because of its billionaire owner Lawrence Stroll and his rather questionable tactics in the last few years. Regardless, the team surely deserves its due for helping Sebastian Vettel get the second wind of his career.
Sebastian Vettel did not have the best first season with the team
Sebastian Vettel's first season with the team was arguably not that impressive. The driver started the season on shaky grounds and it wasn't until the Monaco GP that he got the hang of the Aston Martin.
There were moments, however, where Vettel's brilliance shone through. For instance, his drive in Baku last season was scintillating stuff, and so was the one in Hungary. There were races where he could get back to his old self. The problem was, it did not happen often!
The German was inconsistent. He spun off on his own accord while batting with Fernando Alonso in the British GP, had a clash in Monza as well as in Zandvoort, and there were races where Lance Stroll did a better job.
Sebastian Vettel ended the season with just 43 points to his name, and while Lance Stroll scored 9 less at 34, that wasn't the kind of gap you expected Vettel to have over a teammate like Stroll.
So much so that F1 pundits were speculating if the German would retire at the end of the 2022 season or if he even had the motivation to race in F1. After a disastrous first race of the season in Australia, where Vettel was woefully unprepared due to the circumstances, these suggestions gained speed again and many pundits even thought Vettel didn't even want to be on the F1 paddock.
Throughout all of this, Aston Martin stood firmly by the German's side. The team has shown faith in Vettel and backed him through all of this. Despite a woeful first year with the team, there was never a threat to his position within the team.
Even after a disastrous first race in Australia this season, the team stood by Vettel and backed him publicly. As a result, when the German finally regained his mojo, he's been untouchable. Aston Martin now has a driver that is performing as well as anyone on the grid and they have his services because they stood by him through a very rough period.
Aston Martin's team environment has helped Sebastian Vettel express himself
One thing that does get missed when we talk about Sebastian Vettel's transformation this season is his demeanor. When the German left Ferrari and moved to Aston Martin, he was someone whose aim of fulfilling his dream was cut short.
He was going to a team that would battle in the midfield at best. Did he want to do that in his career then? What was his pursuit or goal after his dreams of winning the title with Ferrari were shattered?
Sebastian Vettel was caught at the crossroads with no idea what was next. During the off-season, Vettel has found his purpose. He knows the next chapter involves raising awareness about the social causes he feels strongly about and as a result, he's happy and able to focus on his driving much better.
At the same time, though, it's not beyond the realms of imagination that Vettel might have struggled to be this public with his views about the environment, sustainability, and other causes if he was affiliated with some other team on the grid because, in the end, his views do indirectly affect the sport's image as well.
Aston Martin, however, has given Vettel the freedom he needs. He helps the team grow and drives the wheels off the car whenever he gets the opportunity. Away from the track, he is free to question and talk about climate change and sustainability.
Vettel's return to form is a welcome surprise for anyone on the F1 grid because of how loved the German is. At the end of the day, however, his Aston Martin team also deserves credit for being the supporting cast in his return.