Sebastian Vettel has been given a vote of confidence by two of the most influential people in the Formula One paddock, Toto Wolff and Ross Brawn.
Vettel has not won a Formula One race for over a year and has made a string of high-profile errors since crashing out of the lead at last season’s German Grand Prix. He has not led the world championship since that race.
Making matters worse for the four-time world champion is that young Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc has made a crucial breakthrough, recording his first victory at the Belgian Grand Prix seven days before claiming Ferrari’s first Italian Grand Prix win since 2010.
By contrast, Vettel finished fourth in Belgium and then was involved in a contentious incident with Lance Stroll at Monza. Vettel spun at the Ascari chicane and then hit the Racing Point driver as he returned to the track, earning himself a stop-go penalty and moving him closer to a one-race ban.
Despite Vettel’s recent troubles Mercedes boss Wolff has no doubt his fellow countryman can rediscover his best form soon.
« I’m just saying, don’t write him off, » Wolff said after the race at Monza. « He’s a four-time world champion, and the difference between the great ones and the good ones is that the great ones are able to get up again. And I have no doubt that he can do that.
« He’s had a spell of bad races, and now it will be about the ability to get himself back into where he deserves to be, and [Italy] for sure is a bad day for him. »
Ferrari legend Ross Brawn, who orchestrated its dominance of the early 2000s and is now F1’s sporting chief, believes the onus is on the Italian team to get Vettel back to his best form.
« Vettel is clearly one of the greats of our sport, but at this tough time he really needs the support of the team to regain the confidence he seems to be lacking at the moment, » Brawn said. « That, as well as pushing on with the car development, has to be a priority for [team boss] Mattia Binotto in the coming weeks. It won’t be easy, but it is essential especially in terms of 2020.
He added: « What happened in the race was down to him alone … It’s an unavoidable fact that no matter who the driver is and regardless of how good things are in the team, your first rival is always your teammate.
« To a certain extent, Sebastian is experiencing what he felt at Red Bull in his final year there, in 2014, when he found himself up against Daniel Ricciardo, a youngster setting incredible pace. »