‘Vettel doesn’t trust the Ferrari strategists’

Next season can’t “come soon enough” for Sebastian Vettel after yet another race weekend to forget in Russia, says Jolyon Palmer.

Vettel had a wretched time at the Sochi circuit, crashing in Saturday’s qualifying when he lost the back end of his SF1000.

It was a big hit for the German, who declared he was “fine” as he set about picking up his debris including the wing.

The grand prix wasn’t much better for the four-time World Champion.

Although he was running inside the top ten that was down to Ferrari’s decision to pit him late, using him as a moving bollard to help team-mate Charles Leclerc.

“I think obviously we got stuck in the slow group at the back of the field and that was our race,” Vettel said. “I played the brake block until the pit stop.

“After that there was not much left.

“It was clear I was left out to slow down the Renaults. It didn’t help me, of course. I think we could have taken a point but that doesn’t change much now.”

Palmer reckons Sunday’s antics were yet another sign that all is not well between Vettel and Ferrari as the duo spend their final season together.

“Next season can’t come soon enough for Vettel,” the former driver wrote in his BBC column.

“Ferrari have a poor car this season and the four-time champion has never looked comfortable in it.

“Team-mate Charles Leclerc has pulled a few star performances out of the Ferrari and on Sunday he finished a very credible sixth from 11th on the grid.

“In contrast, Vettel had another weekend to forget. He crashed in qualifying while trying to make up a 0.4-second deficit to Leclerc, and then never made an impact in the grand prix after a long first stint.

“The Ferrari is certainly a handful with which Vettel is struggling to make any progress, but on top of that his relationship with the team has soured in a similar way to Perez’s at Racing Point.

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He continued: “There has been needle between Vettel and team principal Mattia Binotto all season long since it was confirmed Vettel hadn’t retained his drive.

“Vettel doesn’t seem to trust the Ferrari strategists at all this year – and this is not the first season in which that has been apparent. He is debating and often overriding some of their in-race calls.

“But more importantly he seems to have lost his usual mojo for racing and performance. It almost looks as if he is seeing out this year in a holding pattern.

“I’m sure a fresh challenge at Aston Martin will reinvigorate Vettel and he probably can’t wait for it to come around already.”

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