"I’m going to get hammered for this, but Vettel’s best year was 2019"
By Srihari HS 01 June 2020 | 17:54
Former racing engineer Rob Smedley knows that his opinion is controversial, but sticks to his point: “I think Sebastian Vettel’s best year was 2019.” The Brit has several reasons to think that the Ferrari driver, who finished in the driver’s championship behind his much younger teammate, did better in 2019 than earlier in his career.
“I think we’re talking about a really good driver here, a really wonderful driver.” Smedley thinks Vettel had the biggest challenge of his career last year. “I think he faced the biggest challenge of his career that year, and everybody kind of wrote him off because it was the easy thing to do, that Charles is just going to get better and better and it’s the end of Sebastian, if you like,” Smedley looks to the end of 2019.
“I think we saw the real Sebastian Vettel towards the end of the year, [which] Sebastian had a little bit lost – and I’m sure he’d freely admit that, that he wasn’t where he wanted to be, both within the team and with his teammate at the start of the year – but then he actually got his head down, and that’s the sign of a true champion, he came back.” It will be a loss for the sport if Vettel quits, he admitted in the F1 Nation podcast.
Vettel showed greatness with relentlessness
It’s the greatest pressure he’s had on his shoulders in his thirteen seasons in the sport, Smedley knows for sure. “I think that’s the most pressure he’s probably ever had in his career. And he’s been against good drivers; he’s been against world champions. He dominated Kimi [Raikkonen], with Mark [Webber] at Red Bull – who’s absolutely no slouch, Mark’s a really fast driver – and [Vettel] managed to always come out on top.”
But he never had such a challenge as in 2019. “So for him to cope with that, and to come back and kind of stamp his authority after a shaky start, I personally think we saw something special” The FIA ??data analyst takes Russia as an example. “He got out in front – however he did it, whatever the machinations were of him getting in front at that point were, he kind of made that decision inside his own head and helmet that he was staying there, and he wasn’t going to let him back past. And I think that the sign of a true great is that they’re relentless in their pursuit of winning.”