It all started with a poor qualifying session on Saturday afternoon and ended on lap 37 with the collision between the German and Max Verstappen. The crash forced Vettel into an extra stop to replace his damaged front wing and left him dead-last on track, in 17th place.
But what's going on with the four time World Champion? There's no secret about him making mistakes, in particular when under pressure -and we know the amount you have to stand driving for Ferrari- but it looks like the situation is getting worse and worse. Sebastian's mind is for sure already focussed on Hockenheim, the next race, his home race. But also the race in which this negative-loop started one year ago.
Since that iconic crash in the 2018 German GP, which almost symbolically gave Lewis Hamilton a win that seemed in the hands of the Ferrari man, Vettel has made mistakes in Japan, Italy, USA and Bahrain. The bitter irony of Fate made them all end up in a spin for the german driver, painting in the fans' mind this sequence of pictures of tyre smoke surrounding the spinning number 5 Ferrari car. Both the Scuderia and Sebastian himself have to find a solution to this problem quickly, even if after 12 years in Formula 1 in may just be an irreversible Achille's heel.
Back to today's incident, dynamics are pretty clear: Max Verstappen storms past Vettel into Stowe corner. Sebastian wants to fight back immediately, going down the inside of the Dutchman into Vale and expecting the Red Bull to move on the right. But Max is already covering the inside line and of course he's not going to leave the door open for the #5. Vettel then outbrakes himself and crashes heavily in the back of the Red Bull car, in a scene reminiscent of last year's Baku clash between Verstappen and Ricciardo.
But this time there hasn't been a double change of direction by the Dutchman and therefore the stewards hand Vettel a fair 10 second penalty. The German complains on the radio, but at the end of the race, when the blood has cooled down, the "What is he doing?" turns into a "I made a mistake".
Sebastian therefore walks to the #33 Red Bull in the parc fermé and apologises with Verstappen, in a switched scenario compared to Max' apologies after the 2018 Chinese GP.
"I'm sure he didn't do it on purpose" stated a calm Max Verstappen who proves once again to have finally become a mature driver both in and out of the track.
Maybe that's just what Sebastian needs as well: a really low moment (such as Verstappen's 2018 Monaco GP) to meditate on and then start back with a new and fresh mentality.