Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel’s temperament under pressure is once again in the spotlight after his error-prone ways continued at the Bahrain Grand Prix while his new teammate Charles Leclerc lapped up the accolades on a weekend in which the balance of power may have shifted a notch or two away from the German’s side of the garage.
While Leclerc ticked all the boxes in the race, clinically dispatching of Vettel despite orders not to do so and then looked set for victory until Ferrari reliability gremlins struck. Whatever the case, it appeared that the young gun had rattled the four-time F1 World Champion.
Not so according to Vettel who told reporters in Shanghai, “I don’t know what you guys sometimes imagine on the other side. I haven’t come across a driver that was a pain in the ass, and I hope I never will.”
“I think prior to the season I said it’s a different person so it was going to be a new and different challenge. I have always shown respect when other people do well, as [Leclerc] did in Bahrain.”
“I wasn’t happy with my performance, not happy with the feeling yet with the car, the feeling I had in testing and so on. I know that I can be better and I know that we have lots of races to show and prove that. But at least when I’m not at the top of it, it’s good that he is.”
After two rounds the pecking order at the top is murky to say the least. According to GPS and other gizmos, the Ferrari SF90 is the fastest piece of on the grid at the moment, but reliability has not been kind as Leclerc’s woes late in the race, as well as the mysterious lack of pace in Melbourne, could be attributed to the fragile PU package.
Vettel admitted, “It was a surprise when we came to Australia and the car wasn’t anywhere near what we had in Barcelona, with the car being very alive and unstable. Bahrain I think the conditions were tricky and everyone was struggling with the wind and so on.”
“We were surprised to find ourselves faster down the straights that other people, especially with Australia having been on the back foot. We’ll see where we are here.”
Ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix, Vettel is upbeat and believes work done in testing after the race in Bahrain was useful for the team to resolve the issues that have allowed their rivals Mercedes to rack up a couple of one-two victories in the opening races.
“It was useful to get some laps in the car,” continued the 31-year-old. “I think we learned some things about car behaviour that maybe we didn’t or couldn’t in Barcelona because we were looking at other things. And to be fair the behaviour in Barcelona was very strong. So hopefully I have a better feeling in the car this weekend.”
“Bahrain was already a lot better and the test afterwards gave me and us the chance to try some things. With those findings, we come here now and see where they take us.
“We need to get everything right. It’s extremely tight at the top. I expect Red Bull to be closer here than they were in Bahrain – I’m not sure what happened there. But I expect it to be very close,” added the Ferrari driver.