Former F1 driver Mark Webber says people incorrectly assume he enjoys watching Sebastian Vettel suffer because of the once tense relationship that marked the pair’s time together at Red Bull.
Vettel’s final years with Ferrari saw the German’s stock slowly fall out of favour, with the Scuderia excluding the four-time world champion from its 2021 plans even before the start of F1’s disrupted 2020 campaign.
The 33-year-old’s decision to move to Aston Martin sparked the hope of a turnaround of his fortunes, but so far, Vettel has struggled to find his mark, whether it be in qualifying or on race day.
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And Webber questions whether his former teammate can restore his confidence in an environment beset by technical challenges that cannot be easily solved.
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“I think his confidence is incredibly low now,” the Australian told Marca. “His time at Ferrari didn’t work out for him. Sport puts men and women to the test sometimes, but in his case it was a very long period of time.
“I think the standards of these cars don’t suit Sebastian very well, they are not his type of car. He likes cars with a lot of grip, a lot of downforce and he is a very delicate driver, with a lot of feeling with the car.
“Remember Monza in the rain with the Toro Rosso? It was unbelievable, he got away from everyone that day. But when there is less grip, with the Pirelli… the cars now give you less confidence and the rules don’t suit him.
“That’s a problem for him, but it’s about being good with all the rules, look at Hamilton, he’s strong all the time.
“I think the stars have aligned against him. And he’s getting tired, he put a lot of effort into Ferrari.”
Webber and Vettel spent five years racing together at Red Bull Racing between 2009 and 2013, with Vettel winning four consecutive titles from 2010 to 2013.
But the pair’s final few seasons of cohabitation at the Milton Keynes-based outfit were blemished with several flashpoints, including when Vettel defied team orders to snatch a win from Webber in the 2013 Malaysian GP.
However, water has passed under the bridge since those contentious times and Webber takes no pleasure in watching his former archrival sink the level of a mere also-ran.
“I don’t like it,” Webber said. “People think I enjoy watching him suffer and no, I’m not happy. I want to see him do well because it’s very strange to see him so different from how he was.
“But this is F1, we can’t not complain about the drivers who don’t perform. It’s the top, we have to celebrate drivers like Norris, Leclerc or Max performing well.
“If you are a driver who is at the end of his career, or who is suffering… you also have to talk about it.”
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