Will the "Prancing horse" rejuvenate Sebastian Vettel's career?
A disappointing 2014 season for Vettel
Before the 2014 season, the racing world’s god was a mere 27-year-old German lad Sebastian Vettel, the undisputed champion of the racing arena. Like a god of speed, he obliterated all records and kept alive the hunger for more.
The year 2014, like the previous four years (2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013) had all the odds in favour of Vettel. People had anticipated 2014 to be another milestone year for Vettel and expected him to equal the record for consecutive titles set by Michael Schumacher. But 2014 showed us that true grit and mettle can even topple down the greatest.
The 2014 F1 season can easily be termed as Vettel’s most disastrous at Red Bull. Going from 4-time world champion to not winning a single race the entire season is a feat not achieved in the last 17 years. Various technical issues as well as better performances by fellow competitors scarred the world champion’s glitch free ride to the pinnacle.
Barely managing to attain 3 podium finishes, Vettel’s team mate Daniel Ricciardo finished the season with a better ranking than the German. It was one of the few instances when the principal driver had a worse position than the supporting driver.
Move to Ferrari
The end of the 2014 season saw some rigorous shuffle in teams. A few teams opted out, a few changed names, a few changed their engine suppliers, and a few changed their drivers. One such significant move was the move of Vettel to Ferrari. The sporting world was in awe over his decision. From arch rivals to team member – that was a move no one could have anticipated.
But Ferrari as always manages to attract the best of the talent of the motor racing world. Being the most successful team in Formula 1, Ferrari have a whopping 222 wins under their belt. But will this prancing horse bring forth the missing essence in Vettel’s racing, the way it did for racers like Juan Manuel Fangio,Niki Lauda and Michael Schumacher? Or will it damage his career, the way it did with racers like that of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen?
Success of other Ferrari drivers over the last decade
The 2005 and 2006 F1 seasons witnessed an enormously talented star behind the wheels, Fernando Alonso. Fans called him the next Schumacher, and some even considered him to be better than Schumacher, for he was the one who had annihilated Schumacher’s impossible-to-stop winning streak. And he did so not once but twice.
Seeing his mettle, Ferrari approached him and in the 2010 season, Alonso moved to Ferrari. But since then his career has plummeted; from 2010 to 2015 Alonso wasn’t able to win a single world championship. The best team in Formula 1 history was falling behind some new kids in the arena in terms of technology. Despite giving his best in almost all races, Alonso’s car failed to get an edge over others. And finally in 2014, Alonso opted out of Ferrari to run his luck and skill in McLaren.
Another fiasco in their champion’s lineage is Kimi Räikkönen, the 2007 Formula 1 world champion. Raikkonen had an illustrious career as being the first driver to win his maiden Formula 1 championship with Ferrari. But despite being one of the most talented racers of all time, his trophy count ceased with just 1 in the kitty. 2008 saw him crash to 3rd position and 2009 saw him fall further below to 6th. The blame again came on Ferrari for failing to give the world champion a machine which could harness his potential.
And thus, since 2007, Ferrari has failed to secure either a world championship or a constructor’s trophy. A team which has no dearth of trophies is now facing a shortage of not just talent but also the winning enthusiasm and technology. The earlier formidable prancing horse has been put to a trot and is slowly leading towards a walk by the bulls.
Will Vettel excel in Ferrari?
Coming in a similar situation is Vettel. After rocking the racing arena for four consecutive seasons, a poor 2014 showdown made him opt for the Prancing Horse. But will Ferrari provide him with the right machine? Or will Vettel too fall back due to Ferrari’s lack of technical expertise? Vettel has proven that once provided with a deadly beast, he can not only tame the beast but also guide it to victory. And he has done it not once, not twice but four times.
So can the Prancing horse provide the quadruple champion the much needed impetus to reclaim his old glory and at the same time reinstate their hold over Formula 1? All depends on the 15th of March, 2015 when the world will watch the re-enthused, re-ignited and rejuvenated racers march on their path to glory.