Turkish GP Debrief - Vettel shows he can compete with Aston Martin next year

Turkish GP Debrief - Vettel shows he can compete with Aston Martin next year

15-11-2020 20:00 Last update: 19:35

Despite Lewis Hamilton taking a record equalling seventh Formula 1 title with a masterful drive to victory in Turkey, a lot of the post-race attention was on Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who claimed his first podium since the Mexican Grand Prix in 2019.

It’s been a difficult year for Vettel, who was axed by Ferrari before the season even started. He’s found it tough to get to grips with this year’s car and has often been well off the pace of teammate Charles Leclerc. However, in the tricky conditions at Istanbul Park, Vettel showed why he is still one of the best drivers in F1 with a fantastic performance.

Vettel’s best race of 2020

Starting 11th, Vettel got a better launch than those around him, moving up to P4, which became third when Hamilton ran wide in the early stages. Trailing the Racing Point duo of Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez, Vettel was left to tussle with Max Verstappen for P3. Verstappen is considered as one of the best drivers in wet weather conditions, and his Red Bull was one of the faster cars this weekend.

Despite all this, Vettel frustrated the Dutchman, holding him off in treacherous conditions when the slightest mistake could’ve given Verstappen an opportunity to pass. Questions have been asked over Vettel’s ability to race wheel-to-wheel, but he showed he still has all the skill needed in battle during that pulsating duel with Verstappen.

Later on in the race he became the roadblock for another faster car, this time eventual race winner Hamilton. At one point during the battle he was pulling away from the Mercedes and closing in on the leaders before pitting for new intermediates.

While the likes of Stroll and Verstappen struggled with the new tyres, Vettel and Leclerc closed in on the long-running Perez, and when Leclerc made a mistake trying to defend P2 on the last lap, Vettel sneaked up the inside to take his first podium finish of the season.

Vettel has more than a decade of F1 experience and he showed it. As others spun and slid all over the place, Vettel had a near-faultless afternoon and he was delighted to finally be back on the podium.

Redemption at Aston Martin?

Midway through the 2020 season, Vettel was confirmed to be joining Aston Martin for 2021, the team running as Racing Point this season. Replacing Perez at the team, many onlookers have said it’s not the right move from the team, but of course that isn’t any fault of Vettel’s.

The challenge for the German now is to prove he was the right man to take that seat. Perez has been performing magnificently in 2020, especially since the announcement he would be leaving the team. Vettel’s form next year will undoubtedly be compared to the Mexican’s showing in 2020, so there’s an interesting story to follow in 2021.

We all forget just how good Vettel is. Yes he’s had his problems and yes he’s not lived up to expectations in 2020, but this is a man who’s won 53 Grands Prix. Long story short, he knows what he’s doing. Unforced errors have crept into his performances, ever since that infamous crash at Hockenheim in 2018 when he was comfortably leading and it’s widely felt that Vettel needs a new challenge, having not quite managed to achieve what he wanted with Ferrari.

The relationship between driver and team seemed to have gone stale, and with Ferrari promoting their next star in Leclerc back in 2019, the feeling was already that Vettel’s days with the team were numbered.

A change of scenery could be what’s required to see more of the old Vettel. It’ll be a fresh challenge for him and a chance to reset, refocus and recharge for another season of F1. Perhaps the expectations at Aston Martin will be lower than those at Ferrari as well. 

Especially in 2017 and 2018, Vettel was the man so many fans wanted to challenge Mercedes, to end their period of domination. But going up against the incredible Mercedes team and Hamilton was a step too far. The pressure at Aston Martin will mostly be off Vettel, with the team battling more in the midfield, rather than for wins and titles.

Racing Point have proven this season that they are a strong midfield team. They sit third in the standings, three places above Ferrari, and have scored points in every race, with Mercedes the only other team to match that.

On paper, Vettel and Aston Martin should be a strong match. Depending on Ferrari’s recovery, Aston Martin will provide Vettel with podium chances, even if he won’t be back in title contention. The move to Aston Martin could even prove to be a step up for him, given the difficulties he’s faced this season.

Vettel is very unlikely to ever win a fifth world title, and most would say he’ll never win a Grand Prix again. But while F1 is all about winning, it’s also more than just winning. Vettel’s reputation has been hurt in the last couple of seasons in a big way and he’s going to want to recover that by proving he still has ability to race, to surprise and to challenge.

If he drives anything like he did in Turkey this weekend, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him back on the podium in the green overalls of Aston Martin, and pretty much everyone in F1 would be happy to see it.

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