A One-Man Sideshow - You've Gotta Love Sebastian Vettel, F1's Great Maverick

Lewis Hamilton was the champ, but it was Vettel serving up most of the real fun
13:50, 02 Dec 2019

Forget Lewis Hamilton. He may well have won a sixth World Drivers' Championship this year, but it's Sebastian Vettel who continues to keep us enthralled.

While Hamilton is busy slaying the competition, the German four-time champ manages to cause controversy at almost every turn.

And the  good news is that we can expect more of the same next season, as Vettel has denied reports he could quit Formula One this winter with one year still to run on his Ferrari contract.

So in honour of everyone's favourite F1 maverick, The Sportsman takes a look at the many ways Vettel kept us entertained in 2019...

The Italian Job

Italians take very little more seriously than their support of the Ferrari F1 team, so it was a source of huge embarrassment when Vettel blotted their copybook at the Italian Grand Prix in September.

Sat in fourth place early in the contest, the German lost complete control at turn nine and rejoined the track without looking.

That resulted in a collision with the Racing Point car of Lance Stroll, who then almost smashed into Pierre Gasly's Toro Rosso as he looked to get back on the racing line.

Vettel was lucky not to be given a straight disqualification, instead being handed the next most severe punishment of a 10-second stop-go penalty.

The Ferrari 'tifosi' might just have removed their hands from over their eyes in time to see Vettel finish down in 13th place.

SebastianVettelLanceStrolljpg

The Rant

Vettel had already hit the headlines in Canada back in June after throwing his latest strop through the team radio. The German had qualified in pole position and was looking in fine form heading into the race but Hamilton was up for the fight. The Brit managed to apply enough pressure to force a mistake that saw Vettel go onto the grass, and the German responded by aggressively pushing Hamilton towards the wall of the chicane.

The race stewards issued Vettel with a five-second penalty for this behaviour which, unsurprisingly, did not go down well in the cockpit. "Where the hell else was I supposed to go? I had grass on my wheels. They are stealing the race from us," he bellowed on the team radio.

The rant did not stop there: "No, no, no, not like that. You have to be an absolute blind man - you go on the grass, how are you supposed to control your car? This is the wrong world."

Such behaviour is nothing new for dear Seb, with some suspect braking by Max Verstappen in the 2016 Mexican Grand Prix bringing Vettel to the boil.

"Move! Move for f*** sake! He's a [bleep], that's what he is," Vettel screamed from the cockpit. "I mean, am I the only one or are you not seeing what I'm seeing? He's just backing me off into Ricciardo."

He also called on race director Charlie Whiting to do something about Verstappen, bellowing: "You know what, here is the message for Charlie: f*** off! Honestly, f*** off. Honestly, I'm going to hit someone."

The Team Player?

Ferrari's challenge at the Russian Grand Prix was undermined by a failure to adhere to team orders as Vettel and Charles Leclerc failed to get their house in order.

Leclerc started in pole but Vettel was soon ahead after overtaking his teammate at turn two in what appeared to be a pre-agreed move. But the longer Vettel stayed ahead and the further he pulled away, the more frantic Leclerc became on the team radio.

Vettel was eventually brought into the pits by his Ferrari mechanics, allowing Leclerc to regain the lead. But both drivers would miss out on taking maximum points, with Vettel retiring and Leclerc finishing third.

Leclerc later gave a very unconvincing impression of a satisfied teammate when asked about the level of trust between the pair:

"I think the trust doesn't change and I think we need to trust each other, Seb and myself. I think it's hugely important for the benefit of the team in some situations, to know that you can count on the other car and vice versa.

"So, yeah, I think it's very important, but yes, the trust is still here."

The Crash

What followed in Brazil was entirely predictable as Vettel and Leclerc ended up colliding while vying for fourth place, leading to them both being forced to retire, much to the dismay of those in the pit lane. 

After the race, Leclerc held his tongue, stating: “What is important is that everything is clear now and we move forward. We will be able to race together. We will try to not let it happen again.” Try, eh? No guarantees there.

“Seb and myself are very competitive,” he went on. “We both want to win but we need to find the right compromise because we are racing for the same team. We need to be less aggressive and give each other more space.”

Watch this space for more Ferrari madness 2020, with both drivers being kept on by prancing horse for the new season.

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