Vettel expects six drivers to "have a say" in F1 title battle

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel believes the six drivers employed by Formula 1's leading teams will all “have a word to say” in the way the 2019 title fight pans out.

Vettel expects six drivers to "have a say" in F1 title battle

The Italian outfit was favourite for the campaign after pre-season testing in Barcelona, but was beaten not only by the Mercedes duo, but by the Red Bull-Honda of Max Verstappen in Melbourne.

Verstappen's new teammate Pierre Gasly had been eliminated in the opening segment of qualifying – after a single-run strategy backfired - and couldn't recover into the points on Sunday.

Ferrari believes its muted Australia performance is not representative of the potential of its new SF90, and Vettel thus feels that he and teammate Charles Leclerc are in for a close season-long battle with both Mercedes cars and both Red Bulls.

“I think you have three big teams and all of these three teams have the potential to have a very, very strong year,” said Vettel.

“We are looking on ourselves first, and hopefully both of us will be ahead of everybody else, but I think we’re aware it will be very close.

“I think Pierre as well got a bit unlucky [in qualifying], I don’t think he was much off the whole weekend compared to Max. So his race was pretty much lost from the start.

“But I think all of these six drivers in the end will have a word to say, hopefully for as long as possible for all of us to be in the fight.”

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton offered a similar take after Melbourne, expecting “a really, really good battle between the three [teams]”.

Hamilton had led a dominant Mercedes front-row lockout in Melbourne, before teammate Valtteri Bottas eased to victory in the race.

But the Silver Arrows have been traditionally strong at the Australian venue, and Hamilton believes the true competitive order out front will only become clear heading into the Spanish Grand Prix.

“I’ve been here a long, long time and I’ve never known after the first race,” Hamilton said. “So usually the first four races you get a bit of an idea where we all stand.

“It could be like this for four races, or it could be scattered. We’ve had years where we’ve had multiple different winners through the first races.

“So I don’t have a crystal ball, so I can't tell you. But I can assure you that we will be pushing onwards and upwards from here.”

shares
comments
Honda eyes first Red Bull win by summer

Previous article

Honda eyes first Red Bull win by summer

Next article

"Disappointed" Renault must be hard on itself - Abiteboul

"Disappointed" Renault must be hard on itself - Abiteboul
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Lewis Hamilton , Sebastian Vettel
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes
Author Adam Cooper
How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean? Prime

How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But how long will their battle remain clean? Jonathan Noble ponders that exact point

Formula 1
May 13, 2021
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Prime

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Prime

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button.

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Prime

How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace Prime

The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace

Lewis Hamilton led the way in Friday practice for the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix, but there was one major encouraging sign for Red Bull. However, making good on that gain will require Max Verstappen to avoid repeating a mistake that left him well down the FP2 order...

Formula 1
May 7, 2021
Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place Prime

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place

Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his teammate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon.

Formula 1
May 6, 2021
What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors Prime

What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors

OPINION: Going up against the dominant force of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton was always going to demand the best from Red Bull and Max Verstappen. But after making a couple more errors during the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Dutch driver showed there's a small gap he still needs to close in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight.

Formula 1
May 5, 2021