Sebastian Vettel is a four-time F1 world champion but has endured a nightmare start to 2022, missing the first two races through Covid and crashing out of the third
Sebastian Vettel has been told to consider retirement from Formula 1in the wake of his disastrous Australian Grand Prix performance last weekend.
The four-time world champion is one of the most successful drivers in the sport’s history, but is a long way from his heyday. He looks short on confidence and, after leaving Ferrarion a sour note, is now racing for an Aston Martin team which is struggling for performance.
Little was expected of the German at the race in Melbourne, considering the team’s troubles and his Covid-enforced absence. It was his first Grand Prix of the 2022 season, having missed the first two due to positive tests for the virus.
But even with that low bar, Vettel underwhelmed. He managed only a handful of practice laps due to an engine issue, before a crash in FP3. Then, he only managed to get one qualifying run in – thanks to a delay to the session caused by a red flag.
And race day was the worst of the lot, as he made a surprise mistake which almost saw him get stuck in a gravel trap at Turn 11, before ending his race for good on lap 23 by losing control of his car and smashing the nose into the wall at Turn 4.
Vettel admitted himself after the race that he was unprepared to control the car: “[It was] maybe too much of a handful for me today. I tried to push a little bit too hard and obviously lost the car,” he said, before adding: “Maybe I was wanting a little bit too much too soon.”
Giancarlo Minardi is the president of the Imola circuit where Vettel and the rest of the racers will next take to the track, and once lent his surname to the F1 team which competed until it was bought by Red Bull in 2005 and turned into Toro Rosso. The Italian is clear in his opinion that the German’s time in the sport is nearing its end.
“He was unlucky to have missed two Grands Prix because of Covid, and in the third he went out,” the 74-year-old admitted to Corriere della Sera. “But he should retire. He has a lot of money, he has won titles and he will never win again.”
Despite such criticism in the wake of a poor showing Down Under, new Aston Martin boss Mike Krack has rushed to the German’s defence. “Everything is fine with Seb,” he said. “The fact that a driver like him, a four-time world champion, has so many problems over a weekend has little to do with his driving performance.”
Meanwhile, fellow German racer and former F1 star Timo Glock believes it is only a matter of time until Vettel grows frustrated at the back of the grid. “I can imagine that Sebastian Vettel will lose his patience at some point because he knows very well how long it takes to get out of a hole like this,” he said.