VETTEL’S PARALLEL SCHUMACHER UNIVERSE
The parallels between Vettel’s and Schumacher’s Ferrari odysseys at their respective early stages are uncanny. Like Schumacher before him, Vettel joined a Ferrari team that was on the floor competitively compared with its lofty ambitions and its historic achievements.
When Schumacher headed to Maranello in 1996, Ferrari had won only two races in five seasons – a dreadful return for a team of such repute. The lack of success was not quite so sustained when Vettel left Red Bull for Italy at the end of 2014, but Ferrari was coming off the back of its worst year since 1993, having not won a championship since 2008.
It hasn’t been a smooth ride all the way, but Vettel has won seven races for Ferrari over the past three seasons, and this year led the championship for the best part of two thirds of the grands prix held so far. His title challenge fell apart following the August summer break, but there is no doubt Ferrari is on an upward trajectory.
Ferrari was properly competitive from the first race of the season under 2017’s new, enhanced aerodynamic regulations and beefed-up tyres. More crucially, it kept pace in the development race, which for so long has been a real weakness at Maranello.
Hamilton described this one as the toughest of his four world championship wins, which is a real testament to how hard Ferrari and Vettel have pushed Mercedes this season.
Speaking exclusively to Autosport on the eve of the Mexican Grand Prix, where his 2017 championship hopes finally unravelled for good, Vettel says Ferrari has much bigger plans than winning a tight race with Mercedes for championship glory. The aim is to dominate again, in the fashion his childhood hero and idol Schumacher eventually did in the early 2000s.
“It has always been a dream to race for Ferrari – the way I grew up looking up to Michael, what he achieved mostly in red,” Vettel explains. “That was, still is, a very strong inspiration and motivator. So, when there was the opportunity to join Ferrari seriously, with the possibility to change and build something new, then of course I got very interested.
Schumacher returned Ferrari to greatness