F1 2014 Driver Review: Sebastian Vettel

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Sebastian Vettel

Team: Infiniti Red Bull Racing
Car No.: 1
Races: 19
Wins: 0
Podiums (excluding wins): 4
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 2
Points: 167
Laps Led: 1
Championship Position: 5th

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

There have been few title defences as tame as Sebastian Vettel’s efforts in 2014. Despite winning four straight world titles, he went into this season as the underdog following a miserable winter for Red Bull.

Malaysia saw Vettel nearly nab pole position from Lewis Hamilton before running Nico Rosberg close during the race, suggesting that Red Bull might not be in such bad shape after all. And indeed, the team did end the year with three wins, but not one came from Vettel.

The stand-out stat? Sebastian Vettel led just one lap of racing in 2014, taking the lead when Lewis Hamilton pitted from the lead in Singapore. In 2013, he led 684.

It was a year that saw Vettel struggle to work with the 2014-spec car, the RB10, and he rarely looked capable of winning a race. His two best chances came in Canada and Belgium, yet on both occasions, it was Ricciardo who took the bull by the horns.

Moving to Ferrari in 2015 gives Vettel a chance to build a team around himself and follow in Michael Schumacher’s footsteps. However, he has a lot of wounds to heal from a disappointing campaign in 2014 – will the memory of this year be character-building or character-breaking?

Don’t go thinking we’ve seen the last of him, though. Seb is still a supreme athlete and racer. He just needs to get the stars aligning once again.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

It’s hard to say Sebastian Vettel made it through 2014 unscathed from a perception standpoint. He will always be a four-time World Champion and one of the greats of his era, but his greater standing in the pantheon of all-time greats was jeopardized from a confluence of unfortunate circumstances that all seemed to hit at once.

The driver that won 38 Grands Prix and 44 pole positions from 2009 to 2013 managed to add exactly zero and zero to those totals in 2014, respectively, with only four podium finishes. Couple new teammate Daniel Ricciardo’s incredibly smooth transition into the team with his own results for the year, and it marked the first time Vettel had ever been beaten in the World Championship by a teammate over a full season.

So what were the issues? A disastrous preseason testing period slowed the team out of the gate. Unlike in past years, Vettel never got a proper handle on the car design as he had previously. The impending drawdown of Adrian Newey had to affect him. He went through several chassis during the year to try to find the right one. His longtime engineer, Guillaume “Rocky” Rocquelin, was getting a promotion to head of engineering at Red Bull for 2015, which meant Vettel would need to try to gel with someone else.

All that plus the unexpected surprise of Ricciardo surging to team number one status no doubt had to influence his departure and official switch to Ferrari, where he’ll have the chance to add to his own legacy, and perhaps try to match the feats achieved by his countryman and oft-compared reference point, Michael Schumacher.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.