Sebastian Vettel’s final season with Ferrari shifted gears from disappointment to embarrassment as he engaged in a post-race argument with the team after trailing home 12th in Sunday’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.
Team boss Mattia Binotto says Ferrari have not lost faith in Vettel, yet it appears increasingly apparent that the German is not receiving the same level of focused support as his team-mate Charles Leclerc.
Leclerc, on a one-stop strategy, finished fourth, a result that he said felt like a victory, leaving the luckless Vettel complaining about Ferrari’s faulty strategy for him and making clear his annoyance on team radio during the race.
The four-time world champion, who is widely expected to switch to Aston Martin next season when the controversial Racing Point team changes its name, endured a spin on the opening lap, recovered, but struggled with Ferrari’s tactical calls.
“Two weekends in the same place and from Saturday morning, last week, I wasn’t able to make any progress,” said Vettel. “That’s the thing that stands out.
“And I think today in the race, obviously also last weekend, our races (his and Charles Leclerc’s) were very different.
“I was always stuck in traffic, starting further back. Losing the car in the first lap didn’t help.”
During the race, Vettel complained bitterly about the timing of his pit-stops and the team’s strategy.
“I will hang in there, but you know that you’ve messed up,” he told Ferrari at one point in one of several barbed exchanges with team officials.
Vettel recovered his composure in the aftermath of a torrid afternoon for him and Binotto was swift to steady a rocky situation for both sides.
“I don’t think Sebastian has lost faith,” Binotto told Sky Sport Italia. “He is going through a difficult time in qualifying and the last two races where he hasn’t found confidence in the car. Here, he spun putting his wheels on the kerb and his race was uphill.
“I honestly think there is little to say about strategies. We were early perhaps by a few laps with the call that made him lose a position to (Kimi) Raikkonen, but we knew he would recover without losing time.
“It allowed Charles to continue his comeback. Overall, it was the right choice for the team and we don’t think we penalised Sebastian.
“His race was compromised at the start and I think that was the key – not the strategy.”