Autobahn
'I call the shots around here'

Sebastian Vettel runt Ferrari zo'n beetje in zijn eentje

Sebastian Vettel is een van de bestbetaalde Formule 1-coureurs op de grid, maar als je kijkt wat hij allemaal doet, dan verdient hij dit ook. Tijdens de race doet Seb de strategie ook gewoon zelf.

Wij hebben ons in het recente verleden ietwat laatdunkend uitgelaten over de strategie van Ferrari, en niet geheel onterecht. Hoe meer Italianen in de beslissingenboom, hoe meer chaos, lijkt het wel. Wellicht om die reden trekt Vettel binnen Ferrari veel taken naar zich toe, waaronder het bepalen van de strategie tijdens de race. 

We kwamen op Reddit een draadje tegen van iemand die de race in Hockenheim met Vettels onboard-camera op het tweede scherm had gevolgd: "I wanted to see how Ferrari made decisions this race and it’s really very interesting. There was constant talk between Seb and his engineer, constantly discussing conditions and strategies. During the first part of the race, before the first round of stops Seb kept asking about switching tires and how quickly they could get off the full wets. As the race went on and it got dryer, Seb started asking about the forecast again, and telling his engineer that while it’s greasy, if there’s no rain coming he wants to try dry tires as he feels he can handle it." Hij geeft dus constante input naar de pitmuur, zoals een goede coureur hoort te doen. 

"The pit wall says they’d look into it but they go back and forth while Seb keeps insisting on dry tires. At this point HAAS pit K-Mag and put him on slicks. Sebs engineer tells a still asking Seb that they’re waiting for one more lap but finally they say ok and to box for slicks. On the out lap Seb immediately calls the wall and says “This is faster”.

Proactief

Hier zien we dat het niet helemaal een one man show is, maar dat de pitmuur in normale situaties nog steeds het laatste woord heeft. Echter, het volume aan ruggespraak tussen coureur en team is groter dan elders. Bovendien: zodra Vettel een antwoord krijgt waar hij niet mee kan leven, overrulet hij het team:

For each pit stop that occurred, there was never a direct order given to Seb to box, it was a call made by Seb. Every time the conditions changed, when others started making a move, Seb had already told the pit wall laps prior that he wanted to change tires. During one of the safety car periods it had started getting wet again and he wanted fresh inters. The pit wall responded with a we will “check”. Seb again came back telling them what he felt and started asking if there’s a gap “Find me a gap, is there a gap?”, the wall says "There is no gap" but now at this point they’re losing time as others have already pitted for fresh tires, “Ok No gap? There is no gap? Boxboxbox I’m coming in, Inters inters” and the wall says “Copy box now”.

Risico

Het beeld dat ontstaat is dat van een conservatief Ferrari, dat maar niet bereid is met de dobbelstenen te gooien, wanneer er weinig meer te verliezen, maar veel te winnen is. Wellicht dat Vettel daarom ook meer de leiding op zich neemt, omdat de ingedutte pitmuur weifelt:

I flipped around from onboard to onboard to see what other teams were doing and while they definitely inquired with the drivers, there wasn’t the constant back and forth that Seb had with his pit wall. It really does seem like the team is hesitant to take chances even when there is nothing to lose. At one point Seb is fighting for 10th and he wants different tires (I think he wanted dry tires while others were still on inters) and the team hesitated. I was yelling at the TV that they have NOTHING to lose. Charles was already out, Seb is barely fighting for points at that point so just change tires and try to get lucky. Instead the pit wall hesitates and waits for Seb to finally make the call.

Om de observatie dat Vettel een dikke vinger in de pap heeft bij Ferrari verder te ondersteunen, hoeven we alleen maar terug te gaan naar de GP van Bahrein dit jaar, waar Vettel in gevecht met Hamilton spinde. Het was toen direct Vettel, en niet Ferrari, die de call maakte om nieuwe banden te monteren.

Morbus Ferrari

Bovenstaand verhaal deed ons denken aan een internetpost uit 2018 die ons altijd is bijgebleven:

That's what I call 'morbus ferrari'. You join, they tell you how you're the greatest driver of all time and their car is second to none. In reality, their car is barely second or even third best, the whole operation is like a zoo on fire and when things don't work out, they'll pin it on the driver. Of course a driver, especially one who hasn't been around for two decades, will lose his cool eventually. 

Vettel tries to make things happen and then stuff just goes wrong on his side as well. Hamilton has a comparatively easy job: he has a a great car, he knows his team is reliable and even if something does go wrong, he won't have a mob with pitch forks and torches in front of his house calling for his head on a stake the next morning. The same thing happened to Alonso: once a great, yet slightly too emotional driver, went to Ferrari with great expectations, got slapped around by Webber and Vettel for several years, completely lost it and was never to be seen on a podium again.

Overigens heeft Ferrari in de basis een auto die zeker met de top mee kan komen, maar kosten tactische blunders en fouten van hun coureurs te veel punten. Ook het raceweekend van Hockenheim was Ferrari dominant, maar verloor het beide auto's in de kwalificatie door technische defecten. Opvallend genoeg kwamen ze er in Hongarije dan weer helemaal niet aan te pas.