Palmer: Vettel panics in the heat of battle


Jolyon Palmer competed in 36 Formula 1 races before being ditched by Renault after the 2017 Japanese Grand Prix, and while the Briton failed to deliver in the top flight he has emerged as a pundit for BBC and is not afraid to call it as he sees it.

In his latest column, Palmer reflects on Sebastian Vettel’s foibles during the Bahrain Grand Prix, in which the four-time F1 World Champion spun while battling Lewis Hamilton for second place during the race.

The German also suffered his first ‘defeat’ to his teammate Charles Leclerc who is clearly in a hurry to make his mark, even if it is at the expense of the driver of car #5.

Ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix, with the dust of Manama now settled, Palmer reflected, “Vettel’s spin in the race in Bahrain was amateur.”

“Defending from Hamilton on the run up to Turn Four, Vettel did the right thing to cover the inside. But then Hamilton swept around him with a brilliant move, throwing caution to the wind by going so late on the brakes and attacking the corner with so much speed.”

“The move was done. Vettel then lit up the rear tyres, too heavy on the throttle on the exit and simply spun the car. He was clearly flustered by the Mercedes coming through and panicked.”

“The spin was different to his three at the back end of last year because this one was on the exit of the corner, rather than on the entry or at the apex with a car squeezing him from the outside. But the reason for it seems to be the same – panic in the heat of battle.”

“Conditions were tough. High winds play havoc with the balance of an F1 car. They make them so difficult and unpredictable to drive because the cars rely on having the perfect airflow to make the downforce work.”

“On top of that, in Bahrain the desert wind can blow sand onto the track. So not only is fluctuating downforce an issue but the track grip can reduce as well.”

“But this is a weak excuse for a spin of that simplicity. If a backmarker rookie had spun in the manner Vettel did, they would have been a laughing stock after the race. For a four-time world champion to do so should be unthinkable.”

“Mistakes happen, but this is now four spins in Vettel’s past 10 races going back to Monza last year. That’s clearly an unacceptable trend for a championship challenger,” added Palmer.

Big Question: What’s up with Seb and the mistakes?

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