Sebastian Vettel endured his worst season since 2014, taking a solitary win and finishing fifth in the Drivers’ Championship. Here are all the facts and statistics from Vettel’s 2019 season.
For only the second time in the last eleven seasons, Sebastian Vettel finished outside of the top four in the Drivers’ Championship. His worst year since 2014 bore some resemblances to his final Red Bull season, in which a younger driver entered the team and, arguably, upstaged him.
While the general perception is that Vettel was out-performed over the course of the season by Charles Leclerc, the stats show that the battle was close. The qualifying battle finished 11-9 in Leclerc’s favour, with an average gap of 0.013 seconds per sector in his favour – the second-closest pairing of the year. In the races, Vettel finished ahead of Leclerc more regularly, again with this battle ending 11-9, despite Leclerc scoring more points. The only race that is not counted in the latter tally is Brazil, in which both drivers collided and ended Ferrari’s afternoon.
There were high points in Vettel’s 2019 season. As others faltered, he mastered the wet weather to drive from the back of the grid to second place in Germany, and took a long awaited win at the Singapore Grand Prix, proving he still has the form to be a frontrunner. But 2019 is a year which is likely to be remembered for Vettel’s lows rather than its highs. Take Bahrain, where he spun of his own accord after being overtaken by Lewis Hamilton, or Britain, where he clattered in to the back of Max Verstappen, or him picking up the maximum possible penalty (without being disqualified) for unsafely re-joining the track at Monza after another spin while his team-mate romped to a home win for Ferrari. Other times it was luck that was not on his side: an error in Montreal led to him picking up a five-second penalty and losing a race win; he was set for a good result in Sochi before retiring with an engine failure; and a suspension failure ended his race in Texas.
Over the season, rumours of Vettel falling out of love with the sport and retiring at the end of the year continued until Abu Dhabi, but the four-time champion will be back in 2020. Will a rejuvenated Vettel be able to mount a charge for a fifth crown?
A STATISTIC FOR EVERY GRAND PRIX
Australia: The 2019 Australian Grand Prix marked the first time Sebastian Vettel finished the event in a position lower than where he started since 2013.
Bahrain: Sebastian Vettel was the only driver other than Charles Leclerc to be fastest in one of the weekend’s practice or qualifying sessions over the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix weekend.
China: Sebastian Vettel recorded the 112th podium finish of his career at the 2019 Chinese Grand Prix. The only other drivers to take that many podium finishes are Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton. Both took their 112th podium finishes at the Italian Grand Prix (Schumacher in 2002, Hamilton in 2017).
Azerbaijan: With third place in the 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel equalled Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton with podium finishes at 25 different Grands Prix. He previously took a podium in Baku in 2016, but that was when it was titled the European Grand Prix.
Spain: At the 2019 Spanish Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel equalled his worst qualifying result of the year so far with third place. Only Vettel and Lewis Hamilton had qualified in the top three at every race up to this point.
Monaco: With Sebastian Vettel qualifying fourth for the 2019 Monaco Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton became the only driver to have qualified in the top three at every race up to that point in 2019.
Canada: For the first time since the 2008 Belgian Grand Prix, the driver who crossed the finish line first ended up not winning the race at the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel was handed a five-second penalty, dropping him to second in the final order. It was the second time that Sebastian Vettel has started the final lap of the Canadian Grand Prix in the lead but not won; the other time being in 2011, when he lost the lead to Jenson Button on the final lap.
France: Sebastian Vettel set the fastest lap of the 2019 French Grand Prix. It was the 37th time he’s done so in his career, and the first time he took the fastest lap of the race since the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Austria: Sebastian Vettel gained five positions from where he started in the 2019 Austrian Grand Prix. It was the most places he had gained in a race since he finished seventeen positions higher than where he started at the 2017 Malaysia Grand Prix.
Britain: With his post-race penalty applied, Sebastian Vettel finished behind both Williams cars in the 2019 British Grand Prix. It was the first time Vettel has finished without scoring a point since the 2012 Malaysian Grand Prix, and only the second time in his career that he’s finished sixteenth in a race – the only other time he has done so was at the 2007 Hungarian Grand Prix; his first race with Toro Rosso.
Germany: With his gain of eighteen places from last on the grid to a second place finish, Sebastian Vettel made the 2019 German Grand Prix the 87th occasion that a driver has gained 18 or more places during an F1 race. With this being his 50th podium finish for Ferrari, Vettel became the only driver in Formula 1 history to have scored 50 podium finishes with two different teams. He finished on the podium 65 times with Red Bull.
Hungary: Sebastian Vettel recorded his 117th podium finish at the 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix. It was his seventh podium in Hungary, and the 25th Hungarian Grand Prix podium finish for a Ferrari driver.
Belgium: Sebastian Vettel set the fastest lap of the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix, recording his fifth fastest lap at Spa. It puts him second in the all-time list of most fastest laps at the circuit, one away from equalling Alain Prost’s record.
Italy: For the first time in his career, Sebastian Vettel recorded a thirteenth place finish at the 2019 Italian Grand Prix. It leaves 10th, 14th and 20th as the only top twenty positions in which he’s yet to finish during his career.
Singapore: Sebastian Vettel won the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix, recording his 53rd victory and his first since the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix, 392 days previously. But that’s not the longest gap between two wins in a driver’s career – in fact, there are 90 longer intervals between two wins for a driver in Formula 1 history. Vettel himself has had two longer gap between wins in his career. He had to wait 490 days for a victory between his last Red Bull win at the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix and his first with Ferrari at the 2015 Malaysia Grand Prix, and he also had a 553 day wait between his wins at the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix and the 2017 Australian Grand Prix. This was Vettel’s fifth victory in Singapore, a new record for most wins at the event. The Marina Bay Circuit also became the track at which the German has won most frequently. He’s taken four wins in Japan, Malaysia and Bahrain. Vettel became the first driver to have won from third on the grid in Singapore since he did so himself in 2012.
Russia: With both Sebastian Vettel and Robert Kubica retiring from the 2019 Russian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton became the only driver to have finished every race in the season.
Japan: Sebastian Vettel recorded the 57th pole position of his career at the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix. It was his fifth pole at Suzuka, making this the second circuit, after Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, where Vettel has taken five poles. Vettel also became the first non-Mercedes driver to start from pole at Suzuka since Mark Webber with Red Bull in 2013. Vettel was unable to go on to win the Japanese Grand Prix from pole, but recorded his 119th podium finish. It was his eighth podium finish at Suzuka, putting him one away from Michael Schumacher’s record of top three finishes at the track.
Mexico: Before the 2019 Mexico Grand Prix, two previous races had been held on 27th October. In both, the driver who finished as runner-up went on to win the title three years later. Jack Brabham finished second in the 1963 Mexican Grand Prix before taking the title in 1966, while Nico Rosberg finished second in the 2013 Indian Grand Prix before winning the title in 2016. Vettel finished as runner-up this time around…
USA: At the 2019 United States Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel lost his 100% points-scoring record at COTA. It was his second retirement of the 2019 season and marked the first time that a driver starting from the front row at COTA failed to finish on the podium.
Brazil: Sebastian Vettel made his 100th race start with Ferrari at the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix. It made him only the second driver to have started 100 races with two different teams. He previously started 113 races with Red Bull. The race resulted in Vettel’s first DNF from the Brazilian Grand Prix, and the first time he has finished outside the top six at the track, since his first appearance in 2007.
Abu Dhabi: With Charles Leclerc finishing third and Sebastian Vettel finishing fifth in the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the result ensured that 2019 would be only the second time that Vettel has been out-scored over the course of a season during his career.
After graduating in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky Haldenby, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. Now in its sixth season, the blog has become a firm fan-favourite, delving deep into the sport’s history books and lifting the cover on unusual F1 statistics. Nicky also writes at F1Destinations and Motorsport Guides. In 2017 and 2018, he wrote for Badger GP. Nicky is also the host of the F1 Rewind Podcast and can be heard as the resident stats man on the 2 Soft Compounds Podcast.