At this stage it is not yet a crisis in form for the world champion, but Sebastian Vettel has had something of a torrid time in the first four races of the season, twice being ordered to move over to allow his faster new teammate past as the quadruple Formula 1 world champion struggles to master the nuances of driving the latest generation V6 turbo cars.
In the aftermath of the Chinese Grand Prix, where Daniel Ricciardo beat Vettel, Red Bull team boss told Sky TV, “Sebastian’s having a tough time at the moment because he hasn’t got that feeling from the car he’s looking for.”
“He’s tremendously sensitive to certain aspects of the set-up, he’s not getting the feedback from the car that he wants. The compound effect of that is that he’s damaging the tyre more – which is very unusual for Seb since Pirellis were introduced [in 2011]. It’s highly unusual for him to be going through the tyre life quicker than the average.”
“Daniel, as we saw on Friday, had extremely good tyre degradation.”
Horner is confident that Vettel will overcome the deficit and regain the loss of form sooner than later, “That’s just a culmination of the issues that he’s currently got and as soon as we work those out I’m sure he’ll be back with a bang.”
A year ago Vettel caused a stir when he disobeyed team orders and blitzed past teammate (of the time) Mark Webber to steal victory in the Malaysian Grand Prix. Fast forward a year and Vettel has been told twice to move over for Ricciardo – the team’s new man who has not put a foot wrong thus far – and Vettel has moved over when ordered, albeit reluctantly.
“For any driver they don’t like that call. But he’s absolutely abided by it,” Horner explained. “He’s a team player at the end of the day and the one thing you can be assure of is he will be looking extremely hard at this weekend [China] and this race to understand where the differences are – what he’s struggling with and where we can improve.”
“There will be no driver working harder in the three-week gap to bounce back in Barcelona,” added the world champion team boss.
By race four last year Vettel had won two races and led the championship ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix, but this year he lies fifth in the championship with only one podium, a third place in Malaysia. (GP247)
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