Vettel’s form is a sign he deserves it during his stay in Formula 1

Sebastian Vettel’s 2022 F1 season is finally gaining momentum after a false start marked by two missing races and his nightmare debut in Australia.

Being 15th in the championship by two points ends in his name, in the rain-hit races, it hardly looks like a stunning figure on paper. It’s a long way from where Vettel and the Aston Martin team want to be.

With his career coming to a close, Vettel admitted he needed the motivation to keep going. After a worrying start, the signs are now positive that Vettel and his car have something worth fighting for this season.

Aston Martin hasn’t had many opportunities to fight in the right half of the grid this season. When that is the case, it is Vettel who has led the charge.

At Imola, he was in a position to make the most of the good wet-weather speed of an Aston Martin in the rain and grand prix qualifying, and finished off an impressive eighth.

He did well in Miami, too. This was a contentious drive, with two really great passes – one on Nicholas Latifi and then a neat double pass on Mick Schumacher and Esteban Ocon to move himself into the top 10.

Unfortunately for Vettel, that pounce on Schumacher and Akon led to disaster a few seconds later when Schumacher attempted an aggressive reaction in the next corner and Vettel saw him too late, so they crashed and ruined Vettel’s race.

However, he finished 10th in Monaco on a quietly encouraging weekend for Vettel and the heavily revised Aston Martin AMR22.

The car seemed to be in a happier place than when the Launch Specs debuted in Spain the previous week and Vettel was a bit more content from start to finish.

While his teammate Lance Stroll blew it up in qualifying, Vettel made it to Q3. It supports the feeling that he is doing a better job at Aston Martin this year for Stroll than he was last year.

Ultimately, Vettel wasn’t in F1 to sneak into Q3 or grab a solitary point here and there, but it still looks like a good step up on what we saw a few weeks ago.

After Australia, given the team’s form and the obvious difficulties with the 2022 car, it was only natural to wonder if Vettel had the motivation to continue.

Now Vettel looks like a combat-ready driver, and his performance backs that up. Besides a car that only has to get stronger, this model is a sign that staying in Formula 1 with Aston Martin can be worth Vettel’s time.

Case study: Vittel’s key attributes make the difference

FIA Formula 1 World Championship Monaco Grand Prix Sunday Monte Carlo, Monaco

Vettel made a huge mistake in Monaco, skating in the replay at Ste Devote while conditions were at their most difficult. He was struggling to get the front tires wet, touching the yellow line while braking.

It was a costly mistake to land him behind Esteban Ocon but in the circumstances, it was at least understandable. More importantly, it wasn’t as important to Vettel’s race as having a midfield strategy of slower switching to middles and then spots.

Although quite a few wet tires were enough to go straight to the spots, Valtteri Bottas and Ocon did decisively – and that, rather than Vettel’s escape route, is what put Vettel out of point positions for the rest of the grand prix.

And in a race where every driver and team had some key opportunities to define the afternoon, a few key traits of Vettel made a huge difference to his bottom line.

Once Vettel caught Daniel Ricciardo and Zhou Guanyu, he spent a few laps behind the wet cars. While this was frustrating, Vettel wasn’t exactly a passive follower – he teased Zhou a lot, eventually forcing a Rascasse foul that allowed Vettel to back off and slip into the last corner.

FIA Formula 1 World Championship Monaco Grand Prix Sunday Monte Carlo, Monaco

Vettel then followed Ricciardo for only a few laps before lining up through the casino and sending him inside to Mirabeau. This was vital because over the course of the rest of the lap, Vettel managed to pass 5.5 seconds. This was preceded by a spell in which Vettel was the fastest car on the track, and quickly grabbed Pierre Gasly in front.

Aston Martin told him to dig (to switch to spots and undercut Gasly) but Vettel got past him anyway coming out of the pool section, so he was able to stay out of another lap.

The team wanted Vettel to stretch further if possible, but Vettel relayed that George Russell, having appeared on spots in front of him, was faster – so the team called him in. Vettel is back to join the comfortable grid in 11th place.

While he still needed a penalty from Ocon to be pushed up to the points, it’s worth noting that a combination of Vettel’s speed, decisiveness and sharp thinking was why he was in a position to take advantage before anyone else.

VETTEL choice

Ed Str

FIA Formula 1 World Championship Monaco Grand Prix Sunday Monte Carlo, Monaco

Vettel’s 2022 season started poorly, missing the first two races thanks to COVID-19 and then endured a crash-filled weekend in Australia upon his return. But since then, things have improved.

The question now is does Vettel want to continue racing in Formula 1, and does Aston Martin think he is the best driver available?

Earlier this year, Vettel suggested his decision could depend on the progress of Aston Martin.

He has consistently said he doesn’t want to stay in F1 to make up for the numbers and is keen to fight up front. Vettel also noted that the decisions Aston Martin makes now could dictate its future success – and his desire to keep going.

Team boss Mike Krake admitted it was up to Aston Martin to provide the tools necessary for Vettel’s performance.

FIA Formula 1 World Championship Monaco Grand Prix Saturday Monte Carlo, Monaco

Aston Martin delivered a massive aerodynamic upgrade in Spain, a package that is just beginning to show its true potential.

This means that the performance that Aston Martin unlocks in the upcoming races could be decisive in whether Vettel wants to continue with the team – and possibly in F1 at all.

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