Ferrari And Vettel – Why and Why Not

Rumours keep flying the Formula 1 world regardless of the vacation that most are enjoying. Let's entertain a bit the one from the title.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012

August 8th, 2012 (F1plus / Ernie Black).- The Formula One summer break is usually the perfect time for bored F1 fans, bloggers and journalists to suggestively propose silly season possibilities. Holding true to that tradition, I would like to offer the following food for thought on a rumour that surfaced two years ago and has not gone away.

The rumour I refer to is that of Vettel to Ferrari. If we want to be honest about it, the first hint of this rumour actually floated about three years ago after Vettel’s win at Monza with STR. The stories resurfaced last season again most likely because of Vettel’s form and rivalry with Red Bull team-mate Webber. They cooled down again after Vettel seemed handle Webber more easily and seemed to be much more comfortable at Red Bull.

Of course this season, Vettel's Aussie team mate has seemed to have gotten the better of him. It almost seems as though the young German is out of synch with the car and perhaps has had some frustration set it. Therefore, this was a perfect reason or excuse for many to crank up the rumours again. I suspect that the rumour will not go away, actually recently it has intensified with many online publications reporting that a leak indicates that the deal is already done with Ferrari for 2014. Until such time that Vettel's contract is renewed with RedBull or he actually signs with another team, I believe this story will constantly be making its rounds.

Vettel is still young. At the ripe old age of 25 he still has several years left. It is quite possible that he has not yet reached his peak as an F1 pilot and he already has 2 world championship titles around his skinny Pepe Jeans wearing butt.

So on to the question of “Why”. Many (not all) that live and breathe F1 professionally either present or past, will tell you that every driver wants to have driven for Ferrari in their career. It is a sort of bench mark and if nothing else apart from the money and prestige, it looks good on one’s CV. I had a discussion with Joe Saward and Peter Windsor separately about Webber and his rumoured move to Ferrari and they both had the same response. With 70 years of F1 experience between them, I would tend to at least listen to their opinion.

To conclude the question of “Why” then, it’s simply a barometer of status. It comes down to money and where your name will be as an F1 driver in the history books.

Now that we know the "Why", let us examine the "Why Not" then. I suppose there really isn't really a good reason why he shouldn't go to Scuderia Ferrari. There are peripheral reasons, such as the well-publicized politics within or around the Italian team, an element of culture shock, the demanding Italian Press and Tifosi etc... From Ferrari's perspective however, they may not be interested in Vettel as a number one driver because although he is a two time champion, he may not be seasoned enough. He should be handing Webber his arse this season, but he isn't. He is fine when winning, but perhaps mentally weaker than the Aussie when things aren't going his way. Remember how Kimi's stay at Ferrari was cut short because they didn't seem to match personalities or expectations. I fear a similar element could hold true for Vettel.

The real reason though I don't see this happening is simple. That reason is Spanish, about my height, has two championships, is leading the championship race this season and goes by the name Alonso. Fernando Alonso, is a very strong team mate and is certain to require the number one driver designation to remain happy. Evidence of this was quite apparent when he drove for McLaren and struggled against Lewis Hamilton causing a very unhappy situation. Ferrari would not want rival drivers fighting for a number one position. Right or wrong, the most successful formula for victory is a clear number one driver with a strong number two, able to steal points from rivals and take over if needed as number one. I cannot imagine Vettel moving to Ferrari as a number two driver to support Alonso. Therefore, Alonso must leave Ferrari in 2014 in order to accommodate Vettel's arrival. Only, I don’t believe Alonso would move, he's not ready to retire and feels quite at home in Maranello.

One could ask Mark Webber why he didn’t sign for Ferrari, but I’ll wager you get a different set of reasons from Ferrari if you ask them the same question. Regardless, the rumours of Webber to Ferrari that had many convinced, turned out to be nothing but tabloid gossip.

Would you be surprised with a swap between McLaren and Red Bull in 2014? If Lewis signs a one year deal with McLaren for 2013, anything is possible. How many of you would like to see Vettel in a McLaren and Lewis in one of Adrian Newey’s Red Bull creations?

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