I was going to compose a lengthy post on the subject. Indeed, there is a crisis brewing. At the very least, as a sum, the team Ferrari has failed to epic proportions.
Merely 6 weeks ago, the Vettel/Ferrari took a dominant victory at Spa. They had the best car and despite not leading the championship through some costly mistakes, one wouldn't have put it past the Scuderia to make up the deficit of 17 points after Spa.
On one hand, if they had made use of a battery-trick that gave them the edge over Mercedes, one can not blame it entirely on the team for no longer being able to use it (the 2nd sensor topic). One should applaud Ferrari of getting to the point that they did actually have the fastest car on track. But it's also a point that through many mistakes, the team has underperformed at races it should have won.
Here are a few points:
- Baku / Vettel lost his position from 2nd to 3rd after the safety car restart (-13 points)
- Austria / no team-orders that allowed Kimi to finish ahead of Vettel in a race Hamilton DNFed (-3 points)
- Hockenheim / Vettel being held up by Kimi despite being on different strategies
- Hockenheim / Vettel's crash (-32 points)
- Hungary / weather played a decisive role in QF giving Mercedes the upper hand to steal the race victory (-14 points)
- Monza / lack of a team strategy / Vettel being too impatient at the start vs Kimi that compromised him against Hamilton who then won the race (-23 points)
- Monza / team strategy failed Kimi by having him to push for too long on the softs despite already being ahead of Hamilton who pitted later
- Singapore / Vettels costly crash during practice
- Suzuka / Ferrari putting their cars on the wrong tire in Q3, then both drivers made costly mistakes while under pressure (-7 points)
- Suzuka / Vettel pretty much made up for his bad starting position, but threw it away by perhaps being too ambitious and impatient vs Verstappen
This is not to bash Vettel mind you. I think his performances and mistakes need to be looked at, in the proper context. Why did Vettel push that hard? Why was he battling Kimi so hard on the first 4 corners at Monza? Why does he feel he needs to over deliver and over drive the car? Is it his sole doing or are the reasons deeper in how Ferrari have managed the team this year? Have they failed to give Vettel the support required to perform at his best?
E.g. I was watching the onboard of Hockenheim that was posted in the racing thread and it did baffle me to see how long Kimi was holding up Vettel once both had pitted and they were both on differing strategies. Vettel was on the radio multiple times, saying that it was getting silly and that he was losing temperatures following Kimi. He then came on the radio again to ask "do you see the temperatures, do you see them?" until finally they ordered Kimi to make room for Vettel. Seeing this, one really wonders what has been going on behind the scenes at Ferrari to the point the driver who was leading this years championship in the then dominant car of the season wasn't being given the support he should have gotten. Later in that race, he then crashed the car.
There other instances of moments of disbelief, i.e. at Monza when Vettel was racing his team-mate into the T1 and T3. Why? It just didn't make sense. Mercedes have masterfully demonstrated how you can effectively start the race to retain both positions. I am dumbstruck that Ferrari didn't come up with some sort of plan in their morning briefing of saying "guys, don't race each other from the start. Survive the first laps in the positions you are in, then you are free to race" or something to that effect. By Vettel being too aggressive on his team-mate, he compromised his own position to Hamilton.
Then there is also the point that Kimi has been let go and Charles Leclerc has been signed for 2019. Surely this isn't to Vettels liking. It can not be.
In my humble opinion, not all is well with Vettel and Ferrari. Perhaps on some level, the team are losing faith in his ability to get the results they deem they should be scoring and this has led to friction and more pressure which have negatively impacted how Vettel has performed on the track. Where from here? This season is all but lost and I wonder how the relationship between Vettel and Ferrari continue into next year. There's also talk that Arrivabene's position is shaky, given it expires at the end of the year. Others seem to talk of a power struggle between him and Binoto
Interesting times ahead for Ferrari.