Sebastian Vettel was king of the track, peeling off four world championships in a row — and then along came Daniel Ricciardo.
Leading the way for Red Bull before Mercedes emerged as the top dog in F1, the German driver claimed titles from 2010-2013 but ever since abandoning Red Bull, has failed to taste anywhere near the same level of success.
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Vettel signed with Ferrari in 2015 and finished in the top five of the drivers’ standings in each of his first five seasons — including two second-placed finishes — but could never get the better of Lewis Hamilton or, in the case of 2016, Nico Rosberg.
A horror 2020, where Vettel came 13th and Ferrari dropped alarmingly to sixth in the constructors’ standings, saw the Scuderia part ways with the 33-year-old, and this year he is wearing Aston Martin’s colours on the grid.
Vettel’s disappointing slide started when Ricciardo was promoted to partner the four-time world champion at Red Bull in 2014 — his final year with the energy drink team.
Ricciardo made an immediate impact, winning three grands prix en route to a third-placed finish in the drivers’ championship while Vettel failed to win a single race, ending 71 points behind the likeable Australian.
Former F1 star Gerhard Berger says that’s no coincidence, claiming Vettel has struggled when put under pressure — either from a top quality teammate or a rival like Hamilton.
“He never reacted well under pressure,” Berger told the In The Fast Lane podcast.
“Remember when Daniel came to Red Bull, (he) was very strong and he put pressure on Sebastian? For Sebastian it was difficult to cope with it. In Ferrari it was the same thing.
“I just feel when you watch him, you feel he’s not free. He’s not relaxed enough. He’s trying to prove things that, at this moment, aren’t possible because the car isn’t good enough or his own form isn’t good enough.”
The glory days.Source:Getty Images
Vettel out-performed ex-Ferrari stablemate Kimi Raikkonen every year they were together, but has been overshadowed by Charles Leclerc ever since the young gun joined the Prancing Horse.
Leclerc was fourth in the drivers’ championship in his first season with Ferrari in 2019, pipping Vettel by one place, and again was better than his colleague in the nightmare that was 2020, finishing five spots ahead in eighth.
Berger said: “In some way it just doesn’t work out well for him. He starts to make mistakes and people start to question him.
“That’s just step-by-step more pressure, and, as I said at the beginning, he doesn’t like pressure.”
Vettel’s stint with Aston Martin started in awful fashion on the weekend at the Bahrain Grand Prix as he crossed the line in 15th.
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