Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene has made a fairly bold claim about Sebastian Vettel. The Italian team hopes to put 2018 in the past and charge again for the world championship next year.
Vettel remains Ferrari’s ‘number 1’ driver, but the German came under attack from the partisan Italian press this year for high profile errors.
Even after the Abu Dhabi finale, Corriere dello Sport said: “Vettel says goodbye to a disappointing championship — disappointing in his performance and his behaviour, as he is convinced he is not responsible for his defeat.”
Not just that, young charger Charles Leclerc has been signed up as his new teammate, replacing Vettel’s preferred pick, Kimi Raikkonen.
Leclerc got his 2019 season off to a great start in the post-Abu Dhabi tyre test, with La Gazzetta dello Sport saying: “Leclerc debuts for Ferrari and is immediately fast.”
But team boss Arrivabene is still backing Vettel.
“In the last few races we have seen that the real Vettel is back,” he told Italy’s Sky.
“Every human being goes through ups and downs and it’s useless to point fingers at an individual,” said Arrivabene.
“We all expected more from ourselves in 2018. You win and lose together. We made progress, but in the end we lost.
“We take second and third in the drivers’ championship, but in formula one only the winner counts. But second and third is better than fourth or fifth,” he added.
Vettel joined the Maranello squad in 2015, partnering Kimi Raikkonen. The two would race together until this season, a grand total of 4 years. But now, Raikkonen is with Sauber, his first ever F1 team, and LeClerc has taken his place.
Vettel will surely be tested to his limits with fresh young blood alongside him on the 2019 grid.