The error-proneness of four-time Formula 1 champion Sebastian Vettel has practically become unfathomable over the last few seasons.
Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen battled hard for third place following a safety car period in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone Circuit, the 10th of 21 races on the 2019 Formula 1 schedule, on Sunday.
Verstappen ended up passing Vettel for third place on lap 38 of this 52-lap race around the 18-turn, 3.661-mile (5.892-kilometer) Silverstone Circuit road course in Silverstone in part Northamptonshire and part Buckinghamshire in England, United Kingdom, but Vettel tried to fight back to retake the final podium position.
That ended in disaster for both drivers.
Here’s what happened.
The initial consensus was that Verstappen brake-checked Vettel, but as you can see in the replay, Vettel actually braked first after attempting an inside pass on Verstappen that had no chance of working to begin with, and he still plowed right into the back of the Red Bull as though he was driving an uncontrollable missile.
Fortunately, Verstappen, who was in no way at fault for this incident, managed to get back on the track and finish in fifth place despite the damage that his car sustained, as he lost only two positions, one to Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc for third and another to teammate Pierre Gasly for a career-high fourth.
Vettel was not so fortunate. He ended up going one lap off the lead lap in his damaged Ferrari and being justifiably issued a 10-second time penalty for causing this collision. He ended up finishing the race in 16th place out of the 17 drivers who actually finished it.
Perhaps most embarrassingly, he finished behind both ROKiT Williams Racing drivers on the track. The only driver who had been so unfortunate as to be able to say this entering the British Grand Prix was Alfa Romeo Racing’s Antonio Giovinazzi, who did so in the Monaco Grand Prix.
But as fans well know, this isn’t the first time that Vettel has made a terrible mistake in a Formula 1 race. In fact, this particular instance is just another one to add to the long, long list of crucial mistakes that he has made in races since the start of the 2018 season.
Last year, he spun out in the Italian Grand Prix, the Japanese Grand Prix and the United States Grand Prix, he blew a chance for a podium finish with a first-lap incident in the French Grand Prix, he threw away a victory with a way too aggressive pass attempt late in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and he threw away another victory by crashing with a huge lead late in the German Grand Prix.
He ended up finishing 88 points behind champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport in second place in the driver standings. Factoring in all of the points that he lost and Hamilton gained due to his unforced errors, he cost himself between 90 and 93 points in the standings, effectively costing himself the championship.
This season has provided much of the same.
Vettel cost himself a top two finish, possibly even a win, by spinning out in the Bahrain Grand Prix, and he cost himself a victory when he went off the track in the Canadian Grand Prix with the lead and blocked Hamilton after reentering the track, which resulted in him being issued a five-second time penalty.
Now throw in the bizarre Verstappen incident, and Vettel’s level of error-proneness is quite simply unfathomable.
How can a four-time champion driving for one of the sport’s premier teams be as prone to making silly errors as he is?
Fans were quick to point out that Verstappen spun Vettel in last year’s Chinese Grand Prix, costing him a podium finish, but what does that have to do with Vettel driving like an inexperienced rookie for the better part of the last season and a half and doing so once more in Sunday’s race?
Do you really think he thought “now is my opportunity to get back at him for that one incident last year”?
And let’s face it; Verstappen, while he was known for making mistakes earlier on in his career, so much so to earn himself the nicknames of “Crashstappen” and “Vercrashen”, hasn’t made a crucial error in any way since he cost himself a chance to qualify for the Monaco Grand Prix in May of 2018 by wrecking in practice.
Look at all of the disastrous situations Vettel has spun and/or wrecked himself into since then. His driving has simply been unbelievable for somebody with his experience, especially at this level of motorsport and given the team for which he drives.
Sebastian Vettel’s contract with Ferrari expires at the end of the 2020 Formula 1 season, but there have been rumors that he might retire at the end of the 2019 season even though he just turned 32 years old.
You’ve got to think that these countless errors would have something to do with his decision if he does decide to hang up his helmet. It’s practically inexplicable, and for the good of Formula 1, I think we all hope it changes. A four-time champion performing at this level is not something that anybody wants to see, especially not driving for Ferrari.
Alfa Romeo Racing’s Kimi Raikkonen is still Ferrari’s most recent race winner, and he won the United States Grand Prix last October before he was replaced by Charles Leclerc ahead of the 2019 season. A total of 13 races have been contested since then, and a total of 18 races have been contested since Vettel was last victorious in the Belgian Grand Prix last August.