Biggest Disappointment of the Year: Sebastian Vettel

Much was expected from Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari in 2016, but they cane to naught as the Scuderia endured a woeful season while their star driver crumbled alarmingly under the pressure as the team appeared to suffer a hangover from the first year of the Maurizio Arrivabene era.

Pre-season bravado and naive demands from their president Sergio Marchionne set the stage for the fall. They started the season pretty well – but no way were the going to win the season opener as deemed by Marchionne – and in truth they just went from bad to very bad before a slight up turn in fortunes in the final few races.

Fan or not, it is always disheartening when the Reds don’t perform in F1 and they too were way below par, but really the biggest disappointment was Vettel.

He was a shadow of the driver who won four world titles in a row. His racecraft was questionable on numerous occasions. Highlighted by his numerous on-track incidents, most notably with Daniil Kvyat in China and Russia and also his first lap gaffe in Belgium.

Each time he pointed the finger of blame, when on those and several other occasions he simply planted his car in the wrong place at the wrong time. His racecraft deserted him and his confidence took a dive.

Then under-fire Arrivabene had a swipe at the German stating that he would have to earn a new contract, after which the former Ferrari engineer Luca Baldiseserri speaking with inside information at hand revealed: “Ferrari are no longer a team, but a group of frightened people. Inside the team there is a climate of terror, the boys do not invent, do not make decisions for fear of being expelled in disgrace.”

Nothing concrete was said to deny the revelations, but rather the team went into cocoon mode or as a colleague said: “Ferrari is in sulk mode.”

All this obviusly impacted Vettel who kept insisting nothing was wrong. But clearly his demeanour was visibly aggrieved and tense.

Finally – probably worthy of the Villain of the Year accolade – he snapped during the Mexican Grand Prix during a heated battle with the Red Bull pair. Screeching and shouting over the radio, telling F1 race director twice to “f*ck off” and then swerving into Max Verstappen after the pair crossed the finish line.

In case you forgot about it here is what Vettel said to his engineer over the radio during his intense battle for third place with Verstappen late in the race:

Vettel: “Move, move. For f*ck sake. He’s a little f*cker… that’s what he is.”

Vettel: “I mean am I the only one or are you not seeing what I am seeing? He is just backing me up into Ricciardo? For f*ck sake.”

Ferrari: Charlie said [radio crackles up]

Vettel: “Here is a message for Charlie: F*ck off! F*ck off! Honestly. I mean honestly, I am going to hit someone. I think I have a puncture, rear left.”

Ferrari: Tyres are fine, tyres are fine

Vettel: Here is a message for Charlie: F*ck off! He has to give me the position. End of the story.”

Ferrari: Charlie say no.

Vettel: “Well here’s a message for Charlie. F*** off! Honestly, f**k off.”

Ferrari: Sebastian calm down. They are under investigation. We know it is not fair, but calm down. Put your head down and we talk afterwards.

Vettel: Okay, copy. Received.

Conduct unbecoming of a world champion, let alone a quadruple world champion, and without doubt a huge disappointment.