After four consecutive Formula 1 World Championship triumphs, Sebastian Vettel’s fall away from glory has been alarmingly swift in 2014.
Although a chassis change after China appeared to have worked for the German, Vettel’s troubles returned with a vengeance in Monaco, where poor reliability spoiled not only his Qualifying chances, but also his race.
“A turbo engine with no boost is not a turbo engine,” he joked to the German media.
Monaco was actually Vettel’s 100th grand prix for Red Bull, but a far cry from the highs of having won the last nine rounds of 2013 without so much as breaking a sweat. But after Sunday’s race, he couldn’t wait to get out of the principality.
“How do I get out of here?” he asked reporters, reaching hard for his customary humour. “I don’t have a boat!”
But not much earlier, his in-race frustration on the radio was obvious. “Come on guys,” he pleaded to the pitwall. “I mean, you’ve trying everything.”
At the very same time, team newcomer Daniel Ricciardo is sweeping up the plaudits and making Vettel look like Red Bull’s ‘number two’.
“Every champion goes through a phase like this at some point,” ex Formula 1 driver turned commentator Martin Brundle is quoted by Die Welt.
“It seems as though he has inherited Mark Webber’s car,” the Briton quipped, referring to the fact that, in the past, it was usually Vettel’s teammate with the lion’s share of problems.
Vettel agreed: “It’s always something different going wrong, but it can’t go on forever.”
Mercedes Team Chairman Niki Lauda admitted that he feels for the beleaguered champion, “This can happen when a team is trying so hard to come back, but unfortunately it’s always happening to Sebastian. When things go wrong, they go wrong,” the triple world champion told RTL television.
The German news agency DPA quoted Vettel as saying: “Sh*t happens. We move on.” (GMM)