Let’s start with Sebastien Vettel . What a driver he has been on the track and what a great guy off it. When he was world champion he turned up year-on-year to the Autosport Awards (a shindig in London celebrating all things motorsport) and used to get on stage with Martin Brundle and Steve Rider and have us all in stitches.
It would have been amazing for Vettel to have gone to Ferrari and won a title. It has been over a decade now since the team's last championship win, but that, in my view, is not Vettel’s fault. You have to look at the whole operation. World champions always find themselves in the fastest cars; that’s how it works.
© Francois Nel
What will he do now? Realistically, away from Ferrari I don’t think there are many options in F1 for him. Charles Leclerc ’s performances made it impossible for Vettel to stay at Ferrari, and a former world champion will never accept being a No2 driver.
That, of course, causes even more issues for Vettel, because it likely rules out a move to Mercedes and also a return to his old team Red Bull , who have firmly made Max Verstappen their No1.
Personally, I hope he either retires or takes a sabbatical, like Fernando Alonso has done. I think Nico Rosberg did it the best way, retiring at the top. He worked so hard to get in the position to challenge for the championship, taking on Lewis Hamilton with the same machinery and beating him to win the title. What a way to go.
© GIUSEPPE CACACE
F1 is a team sport. In this day and age I think you need a No1 and a No2 driver. You can’t have the in-fighting that goes on when the championship is on the line. Could Vettel be competitive with Lewis at Mercedes ? Of course. But it could be to the detriment of the team. That team is moulded around Lewis, so I just can’t see it happening.
What an opportunity for Carlos Sainz Jr, though. Sainz is very quick and very exciting. The best thing Ferrari can do is pick up two young, hungry drivers who will hopefully deliver that elusive championship. Ferrari is one of the biggest brands in the world. They have to do better. If they deliver the right car I am sure these two have the ability to deliver a championship.
© Mark Thompson
Leclerc is a brilliant driver. He is going to the very top. He showed that with his performances last year against a four-time world champion as a teammate.
Let’s hope Ferrari have been smart by removing any elements of in-fighting, so they don’t end up with issues like we saw in Brazil last year. They need to create a better internal atmosphere. Rivalry is fine; animosity is counterproductive.
I think Sainz has a cool head, as shown by his race pace being better than his one-lap pace in qualifying, so I think he is a great partner for Leclerc.
© Lars Baron
Finally, on my former teammate Daniel Ricciardo , He is one of those drivers who at the right age and in the right car would have been a world champion. He is an excellent driver. I am sure he hoped to get the Leclerc spot at Ferrari last year and missed out. McLaren will be a better car than Renault, of that I am sure, but will he be truly competitive and win that championship he craves? Sadly, I don't think so.
Now read Unseen Formula One: Art Of The Race
F1 drivers behaving badly
Max Chilton's car history will blow you away