Before the 2020 season even started, Scuderia Ferrari announced a new driver for their 2021 F1 championship: Carlos Sainz will take Sebastian Vettel’s red seat.
The four time World Champion departure from Maranello was in the air, considering the civil war between him and Charles Leclerc that cost Ferrari dozens of championship points in the 2019 campaign. So, following the 5 years deal announcement between the Prancing Horse and the Monegasque, a long term commitment between the Scuderia and Vettel immediately seemed unlikely.
Indeed it was, just the timing of the drivers’ change caught many off guard, including racing veteran Jean Alesi: “I was actually very surprised of this move [being announced] before the championship had started” he reported to Sky F1.
Issues between Sebastian and Charles, Alesi analyzed, were down to the coexistence of massive charisma and reputation in the German: “When you have a world champion, when you have a charismatic driver, it’s very tough to make him soft”. There lies, according to the Frenchman, Ferrari’s decision of betting on current McLaren driver Carlos Sainz Jr: “[Ferrari will] have two young kids, they have two professional drivers. Carlos, I understand, is a very hard worker and he has the experience with McLaren and Renault. He is coming from very experienced teams. So for the management it’s going to be easier to control these two drivers.”
What hasn’t worked then between Vettel and Maranello is no secret for Alesi, who labelled their relationship as “a failure neither are in fault for”.
Jean brought to the table a comparison with Michael Schumacher’s legendary campaign with Ferrari to show what compromised Vettel’s success in red.
“If I take the Michael Schumacher example, he took my place but he arrived with a full technical team. He worked with the same people he used to work [with at Benetton] to be World Champion. It took him four years to be World Champion, but it happened. Sebastian’s situation was different. He arrived in a team and he tried to teach and to bring the technical team to work as he wants. But he didn’t bring with him Adrian Newey, so that changed a lot.”
The completely new environment Vettel found at Ferrari didn’t make life any easier for a driver who had worked for the same team, Red Bull, in the six previous championships.
“I have massive respect for Sebastian because [he is a] four-time world champion. He put his talent and everything into this challenge to be world champion with Ferrari, and he failed,” said Alesi. “He failed but not because it’s his fault or not because it’s the fault of the team. When you welcome a World Champion like Sebastian, you want to give everything you can and when the team is now able to give what the champion is asking then the trouble starts.”
Two races to go, three points between @Charles_Leclerc and @GeorgeRussell63 at the top of the unofficial standings 🍿— Formula 1 (@F1) June 7, 2020
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