With the new season starting in less than a month, there is still a sense of unpredictability when it comes to Formula 1. Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton sensibly have been termed as the favourites for the season after 6 consecutive Constructors Championship for the German automaker and 3 consecutive Driver's Championship for the British driver. Then there's Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen, and Valtteri Bottas who are predicted to be Hamilton's closest rivals on the grid.
Surprisingly the name of Sebastian Vettel does not get mentioned in the list. Many people predict it will be the German driver's last season in F1. The four-time world champion had a quite underachieving 2019 season by his standards. He made plenty of mistakes and at times luck was not on his side. It is said that Vettel has lost his spark, that he is not the same driver he was 4-5 years ago. But is it too early to write Vettel off for this season?
Vettel's 2019 performance was scrutinized by people all over the world. Although had luck been on his side a little, he would've surely ended ahead of his teammate Charles Leclerc and Red Bull hotshot Max Verstappen in the Driver's Championship.
The German driver had been robbed of victory in Canada. In Germany, his qualifying got ruined due to mechanical issues of the car yet he went from P20 to P2 which was quite a stunning performance. In Russia, he had an MGU-K failure when he was comfortably in the lead and it took away a potential race win from the German. In Mexico, Ferrari messed up with the strategies.
No doubt Vettel made some silly errors in 2019, but that surely does not mean that he'll make the same again this year. If Ferrari has a car strong enough to compete with Mercedes, Vettel will surely be one of the favourites to win the championship. Last year, it was a new environment for him. It's always difficult when you have a young driver as your new teammate. It certainly takes time to settle. The same thing happened when Daniel Ricciardo joined Red Bull to partner up with Vettel and ended up outperforming the German driver. The year after that Vettel joined Ferrari and certainly gave it a go for the World Championship.
People tend to forget that Vettel is a legend of this sport. Being a four-time world champion is something that even the greats Niki Lauda, Fernando Alonso, and Nelson Piquet have not managed to become. He has always liked to prove people wrong. It won't be surprising if he goes on to win the World Championship this year on the back of all the critics he faced on his performance last year. It is certainly too early to write Vettel off for a fifth title win in 2020.