Sebastian Vettel endured a difficult final year at Ferrari recording his worst championship result since his debut season. Here are the facts and statistics from Vettel’s 2020 F1 season!
Sebastian Vettel has won 53 Grands Prix in his career, but in 2020 he spent only nine laps racing inside the top three positions. Vettel’s sudden drop in performance compared to his team-mate was one of 2020’s more confusing plot lines. Vettel out-qualified Charles Leclerc only four times this year, and finished ahead in races which they both finished on only three occasions. He recorded a single podium finish in 2020, ironically the result of his team-mate running wide on the final lap at the Turkish Grand Prix.
His podium finish was his only top five result of the year. Vettel was not able to extract the performance out of his underwhelming machinery like Leclerc could, finishing in the points on only seven occasions – with four of those being tenth place results. The Hungarian and British Grands Prix were the only times he scored in successive races.
Prior to the delayed season beginning, Ferrari announced that the team would part ways with Vettel at the end of 2020. Vettel subsequently confirmed a move to Aston Martin for 2021, where he will partner Lance Stroll. Will a change of scenery and a new challenge revitalise the four-time World Champion’s career?
A STATISTIC FROM EVERY GRAND PRIX
Austria: Sebastian Vettel finished in tenth place for the first time in his Formula 1 career. Of the top twenty positions, fourteenth and twentieth are the only positions in which Vettel is yet to finish a Grand Prix. It was the first time since the 2009 Italian Grand Prix that Vettel picked up a single point from a race weekend. While the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix marked only the fourth time in his Ferrari career that Vettel failed to reach Q3, it was his first Q2 elimination during his time at the team. The last time he recorded a Q2 exit was when he qualified eleventh at the 2014 Russian Grand Prix.
Styria: Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc collided on the first lap of the 2020 Styrian Grand Prix and both retired as a result. Vettel recorded the fourth retirement in the last five Austrian races for the driver starting tenth and the race marked Vettel’s third retirement at the Red Bull Ring, after the 2014 and 2016 Austrian Grands Prix.
Hungary: After qualifying in fifth place, Sebastian Vettel maintained his record of having qualified in the top five at the Hungarian Grand Prix in every season since 2009.
Britain: Sebastian Vettel finished only tenth in the 2020 British Grand Prix. It means that his Silverstone win in 2018 is his only top six finish at the track in the last five seasons.
70th Anniversary: For the first time since 2014, a Ferrari driver failed to reach Q3 at Silverstone. That driver was Sebastian Vettel, who made this the first time in fourteen visits to Silverstone that he failed to reach Q3. Twelfth place is Vettel’s worst qualifying position without suffering a mechanical issue since the 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Spain: After failing to reach Q3 in Spain for the first time since 2008, Sebastian Vettel recorded his worst Spanish Grand Prix result since his retirement on his first appearance at the event with Toro Rosso in the same year. Nevertheless, finishing in seventh place, Vettel has finished in the top seven at Catalunya in every season since 2009. Scoring six points, Vettel became the second driver in Formula 1 history to have scored 3,000 career points.
Belgium: After failing to qualify in the top ten at Spa for the first time since 2012, Sebastian Vettel failed to score at the Belgian Grand Prix for the first time since 2015. Despite this, Vettel did equal a record: he equalled Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa as the drivers to have completed the Belgian Grand Prix on the most occasions. Schumacher, Massa and Vettel have now all crossed the finish line at Spa twelve times in their careers.
Italy: Sebastian Vettel recorded Ferrari’s 25th Q1 exit, and the team’s first Q1 exit at Monza in qualifying for the 2020 Italian Grand Prix. Vettel’s seventeenth place was the first time that a Ferrari driver has qualified outside of the top fifteen at Monza since Giancarlo Baghetti in 1966. Vettel retired from the race with brake failure, recording his first DNF from the Italian Grand Prix and making this the second year in a row that the he failed to score at Monza.
Tuscany: Sebastian Vettel qualified in fourteenth place for the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix, making this the first time that Vettel failed to reach Q3 at five consecutive races since between the 2008 Malaysian and French Grands Prix, when driving for Toro Rosso. There was better news on Sunday, as Vettel finished tenth and became only the fifth driver in F1 history to have scored points on 200 occasions.
Russia: Sebastian Vettel made his 250th race start at the 2020 Russian Grand Prix. In qualifying, the German recorded his first Q2 exit at the Russian Grand Prix since 2014. Fifteenth is his worst qualifying result at the Sochi Autodrom, his previous worst being eleventh at Red Bull in 2014. For the second year in a row, Vettel failed to score at the event. Finishing in thirteenth place, Vettel is the first Ferrari driver to finish a race at Sochi Autodrom in a position outside of the points.
Eifel: Sebastian Vettel became the first Ferrari driver to finish an F1 race at the Nurburgring in a position outside of the points since Eddie Irvine finished seventh in the 1999 European Grand Prix. He’s also the first Ferrari driver to finish a Nurburgring race in a position outside of the top ten since Arturo Merzario finished twelfth in 1972.
Portugal: Sebastian Vettel qualified in fifteenth place for the 2020 Portuguese Grand Prix. For the first time in his career, Vettel failed to reach Q3 at eight consecutive races. It was also the first time that a Ferrari driver has failed to reach Q3 at eight consecutive races since the knockout system was introduced in 2006. In the race, Vettel finished in tenth place, scoring for the first time since the Tuscan Grand Prix. In the last six races, Vettel scored only two points.
Emilia Romagna: Sebastian Vettel failed to reach Q3 at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix for a ninth consecutive race. He’s only the fifth Ferrari driver who has failed to qualify in the top ten at Imola. The other drivers to do so were Jody Scheckter in 1980, Michele Alboreto in 1984, Stefan Johansson in 1985 and Michael Schumacher in 2005. With his twelfth place finish, Vettel became the first Ferrari driver to finish at Imola in a position outside the points since Gilles Villeneuve finished seventh in 1981.
Turkey: Sebastian Vettel out-qualified his team-mate for the first time since the Hungarian Grand Prix and finished ahead of Charles Leclerc in the race for the first time since the Belgian Grand Prix. Vettel finished on the podium for the first time since the 2019 Mexican Grand Prix. He started the race from eleventh on the grid, marking the first podium result from eleventh since Romain Grosjean finished third having started eleventh at the 2013 Bahrain Grand Prix.
Bahrain: Sebastian Vettel failed to qualify in the top five at the Bahrain Grand Prix for the first time since 2014. In addition to 2014 and 2020, 2008 is the only other season in which Vettel has not qualified in the top three at the Bahrain International Circuit. Vettel finished the race in thirteenth place. It was the first time that he’s finished the event without scoring. The only other times that Vettel has failed to score at the circuit are when he retired in 2008 and when he failed to start in 2016.
Sakhir: Sebastian Vettel qualified in thirteenth place for the Sakhir Grand Prix, which is the worst qualifying result for a Ferrari driver in Bahrain since Felipe Massa qualified fourteenth for the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix. Vettel went on to finish the race in twelfth and, with Charles Leclerc retiring, Ferrari failed to score in Bahrain for the first time since 2005.
Abu Dhabi: Sebastian Vettel failed to reach Q3 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for the first time since 2015. This was his first Q2 exit at the Yas Marina Circuit. It was Ferrari’s 60th Q2 exit since the system was introduced in 2006. In the race, Vettel finished fourteenth. It was his worst finishing position of the 2020 season, excluding his two retirements. It was also his worst finishing position in a race which he has finished since his sixteenth place at the 2019 British Grand Prix. This was the first time since 2011 that Vettel failed to score at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
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.