Question: When was the last time you were seriously impressed with Sebastian Vettel?

Now, I don't have Bernie Ecclestone's excuse of being achingly close to nonagenarianism, but I don't really remember either. And, like Bernie, I'm a big Vettel fanboy too!

"Recently, I have not seen his willingness to do anything to win," the former F1 supremo said this week. Bernie also told Sport Bild magazine in Germany that he would "not put my money" on Vettel, 32, still being in the paddock in 2021.

But let's get back to my question: When was the last time Vettel blew *me* away?

Before I answer, reassure yourself that I'm not picking on Vettel here. As I said, I really like the guy. Even before Martin Brundle - within earshot of the baby-faced kid - cringingly questioned on the 2007 Indy grid whether he is adept enough to replace Robert Kubica after the Pole's terrifying Montreal crash, I have liked him.

He was funny, smart, he knew his history, loved The Beatles (and had the hairstyle to prove it), and was most definitely *not* scared in the slightest of the terrifying challenge that lay ahead.

A few years on, of course, I was just as sick of his diagonally-angled pointer finger of victory as you were. But there was no denying it: Bernie was right. This German was a true winner. A four-championships-in-a-row kind of winner. A record-smashing young winner who *still* makes you think of Red Bull as a truly top team, even though it's only been winning the odd race since Vettel left for Ferrari in 2015.

My favourite Vettel race? Actually, I have two:

1. Abu Dhabi 2012

I really loved Seb's 2012 championship year. He incredibly clawed back a 40-point deficit to Fernando Alonso but was disqualified from qualifying at the crucial third-last race of the season for some stupid reason. Vettel, staring down his third consecutive title, started from the pits and needed to demonstrate something that people have questioned ever since - can he actually overtake? Answer: Yes. Yes he can.

2. Brazil 2012

Another one from 2012? Yep. Why? Because Seb was firing on every cylinder in these days - even when the sh*t hit the fan at the most crucial moments, like this title finale. Yes, he was brilliant when he smashed everyone from pole, never needing to look into his mirrors. But when a title was at stake, he was hit from behind by Bruno Senna and fell to dead last, and needed to drive out of his skin with brilliant pass after another brilliant pass, Vettel can get it done too.

Now, I have absolutely no doubt that Vettel has had his brilliant moments whilst zipped up in a red suit as well - because I do vaguely remember thinking to myself from time to time since 2015: "Aha! Seb's still got it!" It's just that I don't particularly remember those moments very well.

Obviously, all of our memories since the dawning of the 'power unit' era are a sort of silver-coloured blur. And there's no doubt that there was something particularly magical about those Red Bull years, and the sight of Seb in yet another differently-sparkled helmet driving an absurdly nose-down rake angle just oozed chemistry and that elusive F1-style perfection.

But I can't quite seem to shake the idea that, as a young Vettel ...

* Matured
* Said goodbye to the coolness and brilliance of Red Bull and Adrian Newey
* Put a zillion bucks in the bank
* Buried himself under Ferrari pressure
* Became a Dad and fell in love with his family, and
* Struggled, as many of us have, with the modernisation and sanitisation of Formula 1...

... that some of the Vettel magic is simply gone forever. Yes, he's still good. But no, Vettel at 32 is simply no longer purring like the engine of his favourite vintage Suzuki motorbike. Something's off.

Consummate professional he may be, but we *all* know that Seb can be pretty whingey as well. And when he is, you get the feeling he would rather be at home, in the workshop in his garden in tranquil Thurgau, surrounded by his lovely little family who he protects fiercely and probably loves a lot more than he loves this post-Bernie Ecclestone Formula 1.

No more backgammon with Bernie, no more innocent Beatle mop, annoying diagonal finger-pointing - no more Vettel magic. And so, after hurling yet another sack of Maranello-made cash onto the bank manager's desk next year, is it time for Seb to go home, do a Jos Verstappen with his newly-born son, and come back to the paddock in 2037? I doubt he'll regret it for a moment.

The opinions expressed are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of, staff or partners.

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13 F1 Fan comments on “Is it time for Vettel to go home?

  1. mario melo

    I think Vettel could rest in F1 behind 2020 but in a small team because he acomodates too soon and he costs some points for the team and for his partnership. I think when he becames father he start being more slow, don't take too many risks. Bur in the moment who can replace him? Not Alonso he had is moment and did nothing so guys in 40's is not for F1.

  2. Jadra

    You know what , I just might skip watching F1 when Sebastian hits the brakes and leaves the track. I just hope he enjoys the rest of his time in Ferrari squad and at least shows us a glimpse of his brilliance on and off track.He has a lovely close family and he is wise enough to know where his priorities lie so it is totally pointless taking too many risks., after all, he does not need to achieve more titles.Let Leclerc chase the titles and Vettel enjoy driving a winning car next season!

  3. chris gibson

    Maybe i am wrong, I do remember making a mistake once, I always root for the underdog! That is the guy who may not have natural talent, but against the odes, works hard and wins, there are quite a few. Rosberg, Vettle, Alonso, and I do not mean just the champions those who where, 2, 3 4, are such an inspiration. Some though, just, get there, because of wrong decisions. A slightly different tangent, what surprised me, was the race that killed Senna, and Roland. The decision to race, the Williams car with little or low front wing was seeing trouble ahead. I love all the young ones coming through, I can not wait.....chris..... ,

  4. Jean Opitz

    Vettal still has the power and will show you next year how good he is (He is the best) i would love to see him race in Australia and meet him we watch all the races here in Cape Town SA. cant wait for March - jean

  5. Charles Sibley

    Vettal's heart doesn't seem to be in it except when racing his teammate. He has achieved so much and deserves to have a full life away from F1.He has nothing to prove except perhaps to himself.I think it's time for him to retire before he becomes a object of scorn, but he is one of very few to have been four times world champion and nobody can take that away from him.

  6. Onnov

    Glad to see him gone when it happens. Unless he won he whined and intentionally runs into rivals team mates and others. That's not the behaviour you should expect from a champion. Kimi never did.

  7. Chris Gibson

    VETTLE should stay he gives us hope..Hamilton is boring.. .he changes the team if he does not win. Then they give him the win even if VETTLE is in the lead. long live VETTEL ! !


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