Last week’s rain-affected Turkish Grand Prix proved to be a difficult affair for most F1 drivers. Not for Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, however, as he picked up an unexpected podium finish with his fine driving.
One must remember that Vettel’s first-ever race win with Red Bull came in a rain-impacted 2009 Chinese Grand Prix. Even there, he was brilliant with his moves and adjudged the similarly treacherous conditions very well.
So, what is it that makes Vettel such a good driver in the rain? The 33-year-old German revealed his technique and opened up on how driving with instinct might better suit F1 drivers in such conditions.
Speaking in an interview, Vettel is quoted as saying, “When visibility becomes worse due to the spray, the reference points that you have memorized, such as signs or trees, become blurred. I follow my feeling much more when I have to brake or turn in. On a dry route there is usually only one line that is fast.” (translated via Google Translate)
It was no surprise to see the most seasoned drivers on the grid standing up there on the Turkish GP podium, with Hamilton and Perez joining Vettel. On a day that inexperience cost drivers track positions, it showed why foresight and experience are important.
“In the rain, three or five lines can be considered, you have to try them out and then decide based on your feelings which is the better. That is the attraction. And you can only really blossom in the rain if you feel at home in the cockpit, i.e. trust the car enough to start playing.” concluded Vettel.
The performance strived to show the world that Vettel was by no means finished at all. A fascinating opening lap in Istanbul Park was proof of his comfort level in driving on slippery surfaces.
Only in Turkey did Vettel feel a certain oneness with the SF1000 car, and it could set the foundation for what remains in 2020. As he will obviously move to Aston Martin F1 at the end of this year, in what sounds like a promising sporting project for him.
F1 next resumes with the Bahrain Grand Prix on November 29. Vettel will feel that the previous outing can give confidence to him, ahead of yet another tricky race at the Bahrain International Circuit.