Sebastian Vettel: 2014 vs 2015

Flash back to 2014 and Sebastian Vettel was probably having his worst ever start to a Formula One season. After the Spanish Grand Prix, he was sitting with 45 points after a retirement in his first race and it’s fair to say it went downhill from there. Now, he sits third in the championship on 80 points, with four podiums, including one win, to boot.

What caused the downfall of 2014 and the return to form in 2015? The most obvious reason is of the change of team. Moving to Ferrari was not only a dream for him, it was a sensible move as he could sense Red Bull were on the brink of falling apart with Renault. Ferrari have had a far superior car both speed wise and reliability wise, as Daniel Ricciardo will be able to tell you: he is already on his last engine of the season. The team environment appears to be a much happier and relaxed. What is ideal is that Vettel gets on extremely well with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. They have been friends for years and Maurizio Arrivabene seems to have put a great team together with himself at the centre.

This makes people wonder: what happened in 2014 that meant the performances weren’t necessarily bad, but certainly not up to the standard of a man who had won four consecutive world champions in the years before? The more cynical reason that people suggest is that, in the years in which he won the four titles, he was reliant on the car. 2015 has proved this was very far from the truth. Did the car not suit him? The change in engine was a big difference for all drivers and it clearly took him longer to get used to them. After all, he got practically no testing as the car couldn’t last more than a few laps and had a lot of retirements due to engine failures.

Some may think there are other reasons for Vettel’s not performing to his maximum, and one former F1 driver who is never afraid to share his opinion on Vettel is Mark Webber. Webber has come out with various suggestions, saying that he believes the reasons could be down to his daughter being born and Michael Schumacher’s accident. Both events were life-changing for the young German, who became a dad and had looked up to Schumacher since he was a little boy; the two became close friends once Vettel had reached adulthood and professional racing. Despite these being two huge events, are they enough to distract a four times world champion who knows that, as soon as one gets in the car, the focus is on what’s in front and not surrounding?

Whatever happened in 2014 to mean the drives weren’t as good as expected, Vettel’s performances this year are likely to make people forget about the difficulties last season. Many Formula 1 fans, and certainly Ferrari, will be grateful for his resurgence, as it means that the Mercedes drivers finally have some competition. Vettel is only eleven points off second-placed Rosberg, and there is every chance that he can catch both his compatriot and the man in the lead, Lewis Hamilton.