During the US Grand Prix, Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel spun after colliding with Daniel Ricciardo. This wasn’t the first time he has spun this season. Now, the German has a theory explaining the phenomenon. He thinks that the downforce “hole” left by rival Formula 1 cars in battle could be a factor in explaining his series of “weird” spins this year.
The Ferrari driver’s world championship hopes have been dented by a number of incidents in recent races where he has come off worse in wheel-to-wheel combat.
In Italy he spun after clashing with Lewis Hamilton, then spun again in Japan after a moment with Max Verstappen, and his hopes of victory in Austin last weekend were dashed when he lost out in a fight with Daniel Ricciardo.
The similar nature of the three spins – where he has lost out despite being the car on the inside – has prompted theories that there may be a technical explanation as to why Vettel has always hit trouble.
Speaking ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix, the German said he suspected that part of the answer comes from his Ferrari losing much of its downforce as it is in the wake of another car on the outside.
“Maybe I need to try the outside next time, maybe I don’t spin,” said Vettel, when asked if there was any explanation for why his spins were all similar.
“Obviously you want to have the inside to the corner, that doesn’t change. But I don’t know. The closer you are to another car, you lose some downforce, and obviously the spins I had were all quite weird because there was not much I could have done [differently].
“It is not like I had gone in too fast or would have spun on my own at that speed, not at all.
“So I guess there must be some sort of hole or something being on the inside of a car in that position. Obviously on all three occasions I wasn’t clearly ahead, at best side-by-side, so as I said, maybe next time I try the outside.”
Vettel admits, however, that the run of incidents will prompt him to be mindful about avoiding a repeat if he finds himself battling hard again.
“The main thing is that fundamentally I didn’t try to do anything silly or stupid,” he said. “I wasn’t hard-headed trying to do something that would never work.
“Obviously now it has happened a couple of times, too much. So next time there will be a gap, I am sure I will go for a gap, but surely it is in the back of your head trying to keep the car facing the right direction.”