Smedley rates the 2019 season as Vettel's strongest
The 2019 Formula 1 season was Sebastian Vettel's strongest says former Ferrari according to former race engineer Rob Smedley.
At the beginning of May, Vettel announced that he would part ways with Ferrari at the end of the season. Whether the German will continue racing at another team or will enter into retirement remains unknown, but Smedley was prepared to hang his hat on his opinion.
"I think we’ve got a really good driver there, a really wonderful driver, and do you know what? I think his best year in Formula 1 is, I’m going to get hammered for this, his best year in Formula 1 was last year, it was 2019," Smedley told the F1 Nation podcast.
“I think he faced the biggest challenge of his career that year, and everybody kind of wrote him off because it was the easy thing to do, that Charles [Leclerc] is just going to get better and better and it’s the end of Sebastian, if you like.
“I think we saw the real Sebastian Vettel towards the end of the year. Sebastian had been a little bit lost, and I’m sure he’d freely admit that he wasn’t where he wanted to be, both within the team and with his teammate at the start of the year, but then he actually got his head down, and that’s the sign of a true champion, he came back."
Leclerc joined Vettel at Ferrari for the 2019 season as a clear number two driver within the team, but this status quickly changed as the Monégasque showed he could match Vettel for pace.
Smedley added: “Sebastian had all the pressure, there’s no doubt about it. I think that’s the most pressure he’s probably ever had in his career, and he’s been against good drivers, he’s been against world champions.
"He dominated Kimi [Raikkonen], with Mark [Webber] at Red Bull, who’s absolutely no slouch, Mark’s a really fast driver, and managed to always come out on top.
“But I’m just not sure that he’s ever had the challenge that he had in 2019, so for him to cope with that, and to come back and kind of stamp his authority after a shaky start, I personally think we saw something special.”
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