Vettel's podium in Baku: one-day stunt or comeback?

Acclaimed by the entire F1 world after his second position in Baku, Vettel seems to have found a better level at Aston Martin. Unless it is linked to other elements...

Published on 13/06/2021 à 10:08

Quentin DUBOIS

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Vettel's podium in Baku: one-day stunt or comeback?

Is Vettel back in business? / © Photo Antonin Vincent / DPPI

In Baku there was not one winner on the podium but three. Among them, a four-time world champion: Sebastian Vettel. He who has been so criticized since 2018 and his exit from the track at Hockenheim. He who was no longer wanted by Binotto and Ferrari. He who experienced a 2020 season at the limit of acceptable among the reds, and the start of collaboration with Aston Martin delicate.
The German driver was cheered in Baku, as if he had just won the race. And for good reason: Vettel gave Aston Martin its first podium in Formula 1. But even more, the paddock had found the time of a race the driver who had amazed us so much in the past. Alonso, Leclerc, Raïkkönen, Ricciardo, Mick Schumacher among others, came to see him on arrival to greet him and congratulate him. A mark of respect that means a lot. For Helmut Marko, there are no questions, the great Vettel is back: “It was the Vettel we know, the way he got on the podium, but especially in his overtaking maneuvers, but also his battles with gasly and the first round. I'm really happy that this change happened quite quickly and I hope it will be the case at other races as well. He is number one in the team Stroll."
 

Staggering statistics in Baku

Vettel in Baku, it’s a match! The wearer of number 5 panics the statistics in Azerbaijan. He has in fact never done worse than 4th since the introduction of this race in 2016. That same year, he finished 2nd behind Rosberg in a race without much interest, while Baku was run under the name of Grand Prix d 'Europe. The following year, despite his loss against Hamilton under Safety Car, then his rival for the title, he finished 4th behind Ricciardo, Bottas and Stroll. In 2018, when he was on the verge of winning the Grand Prix after a brilliant pole position the day before, he missed the first turn during the re-start and failed again in 1th place. Finally in 4, he took advantage of the error of Charles Leclerc in Q2 to be the best of the Ferrari drivers and climbs onto the 3rd step of the podium. In total, Vettel will have scored 75 points out of 150 possible in Azerbaijan. It's much more than Lewis Hamilton (63 points). A sign that the German driver is systematically efficient when he puts the wheels on the streets of Baku.
 

The Vettel effect at Aston Martin?

According to statements from members of the Aston Martin team, the native of Heppenheim brings his touch, particularly during debriefings. On the front line, Otmar Szafnauer, team director:  “Sebastian has taken the way we do things to a new level. Lance is not a rookie, he has been with us for a while but there is a good dynamic between Lance and Sebastian. Sebastian has more experience and the way we do debriefs has changed a bit… not just Lance but the whole team has adopted it. He was more and more comfortable with the car, even before Monaco. We've all gotten a little bit better in our process, in the way we approach the weekend. We are all learning, Lance too, and we will move the team forward together. » Just like at Ferrari, Vettel is now the team leader. For how long ? Because we know, for Sebastian to perform, he must have the team behind him. There is no doubt that the jubilant scenes at the finish of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix will forge a strong bond between him and his team, as with the Scuderia in 2015 after its victory at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
 

Vettel and “his circuits”

Even in seasons where he is less good, Vettel manages to perform on “his circuits”. Baku is the most striking example, but other circuits illustrate this effect. Consider Singapore, another urban circuit. Since the induction of this circuit in 2008, Vettel is the driver who has covered the most kilometers in the lead on the Marina Bay circuit: 1 km compared to 277 km for Hamilton and “only” 1 km for Alonso, third in this exercise. In total, there are 262 victories, including one in 472 with a Ferrari not yet completely at the level of the Mercedes and one in 2019, Ferrari's last at present. But it's also great qualifying laps like in 2015 or 2017, even if we know the rest... Japan (8 podiums) and Canada (6 podiums) also enter the circle of circuits where Vettel performs at a other level. Conversely, France never really smiled on the German pilot. 5th in 2018 after a clash with Bottas at the start, he also finished in 5th place in 2019 without ever finding any rhythm on Paul Ricard. The arrival of F1 at Castellet will be an indicator of Vettel's level of performance.

 

 

When it comes to resurrection, we must put things into perspective. F1 comes out of two atypical urban circuits with scenarios that only these circuits can reserve for us. Vettel has always performed well on these two tracks, even in seasons where he fell short of expectations. 
Regardless, we will have some answers during the next Grand Prix on a more conventional circuit. So we'll see at Paul Ricard if we found the great Vettel or if Baku was just a one-day affair.

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