Montoya: Vettel’s problem is not mental it’s technical

Juan Pablo Montoya believes Sebastian Vette’s problems are not head-related and suggests that the error-prone Ferrari driver is struggling to come to terms with the SF90 while his shooting star teammate Charles Leclerc appears to have adapted his style to the potent but finicky package.

Montoya told Motorsport Network, “I think he doesn’t like something in the car or this year’s tyres and Leclerc is able to better adapt. Vettel has to suffer to go as quick as the other guy. Because he has to suffer and he is not comfortable, he makes mistakes. When you’re not happy with the car and you push, mistakes happen.”

At 31 Vettel is a wily campaigner with four F1 world titles under his belt as well as 52 wins in 234 Grand Prix starts but is now on a winless streak lasting over a year.

At Monza last Sunday, he messed up in front of the tifosi with a blatant error while his teammate powered to a famous victory, the 21-year-old’s second in a week in which he comprehensively outshone his illustrious teammate.

Montoya said of Vettel’s freefall, “I don’t think it’s a mental thing. It is more a technical one. It’s about understanding, having someone on your side who’s able to find what’s going on.”

The popular Columbian driver revealed how he had to alter his driving style to suit the McLaren’s of 2005 and 2006,  “I had to change the way I braked the car and it started doing very different things to what I was used to.

“Changing they way you drive is very complicated. If you change the way you drive the car you can still be quick, but probably not as quick as you used to be.”

“He will have to adapt to a certain extent, but learning to be quick in a different way is very difficult. It’s better to adapt the car to your driving than your style to someone else’s.”

Vettel has never been fully comfortable with the hybrid turbo era as he was with the V8s. Daniel Ricciardo outdrove him in 2014, and at Ferrari the German was hardly tested by Kimi Raikkonen in the last stages of his journey in Red.

Young gun Leclerc has by intent or not been extremely smart in how he has slowly shifted the power from the submissive young gun to the team’s top gun by simply delivering a blistering pace, setting the marker in race-mode and almost taunting Vettel with his ‘catch-me-if-you-can’ approach.

As the seven-time Grand Prix winner and Indycar Champion pointed out, this has the #5 car chasing too often, the driver trying too hard and triggering mistakes.

Perhaps it would be wise for him to take a page out of the Prost-Senna battle archives to figure out what The Professor did to contain and beat a teammate who was faster and younger than him. Tortoise and hare spring to mind.

Montoya, who is back in the F1 paddock coaching Lance Stroll, closed with advice for Vettel, “The only way is working harder, doing something different to what he’s doing now. He must be used to working in a certain way, but right now it’s not working out for him.”

Big Question: What’s bugging Seb?


Stat Attack: 2019 Italian Grand Prix

Statistics for Sunday’s Italian Formula One Grand Prix at Monza, the 14th race of the 21-round season:

Lap distance: 5.793km. Total distance: 306.720km (53 laps)

2018 pole: Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari, one minute 19.119 seconds.

2018 winner: Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes

Race lap record: Rubens Barrichello (Brazil), Ferrari. One minute 21.046 seconds (2004).

Start time: 1310 GMT (1510 local)

Sunday’s race will be the 90th edition of the Italian Grand Prix, with the first staged at Monza in 1922. Ferrari are also celebrating their 90th anniversary.

Hamilton has won at Monza five times, a record he shares with Michael Schumacher. Mercedes have also won for the past five years.

The Briton has been on pole six times at Monza, including four of the past five.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel can become only the second driver, and first since Britain’s Stirling Moss in the 1950s, to win at Monza with three different teams.

Moss won with Maserati, Vanwall and Cooper. Vettel has done so previously with Toro Rosso (2008) and Red Bull (2011 and 2013).

The Italian and British Grands Prix are the only ones to have been on the calendar in every year since the world championship started in 1950.

The Italian race has been staged at Monza every year except 1980 when it was at Imola.

Raikkonen’s 2018 pole lap was at an average speed of 263.587 kph, the fastest in Formula One history.

The race has been won from pole position 10 times in the last 14 years.

Ferrari have won 18 times at Monza since the championship started, more than anyone else, but their last home success was in 2010.

Hamilton has 81 victories from 242 races and is closing the gap to Schumacher’s record 91. Vettel, third on the all-time list, has 52.

Vettel has not won since his victory at last season’s Belgian Grand Prix, more than a year ago.

Ferrari have won 236 races since 1950, McLaren 182, Williams 114, Mercedes 97 and Red Bull 61. Former champions McLaren and Williams have not won since 2012.

Hamilton has won eight out of 13 races so far this season and has a 65-point lead over team mate Valtteri Bottas, who has won twice. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has also won twice and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc once.

Hamilton has a record 87 career poles, Vettel 56.

Four races so far this season have been won from pole — Bottas in Azerbaijan, Hamilton in Monaco and France and Leclerc in Belgium. Max Verstappen took the first pole of his Formula One career in Hungary on Aug. 3.

Belgium was Ferrari’s 63rd front row lockout, one behind Mercedes in the list of records.

Hamilton has 145 career podiums. Vettel has 117.

Hamilton has now led 141 grands prix, leaving him one off Schumacher’s record.

Hamilton has finished the last 25 races in the points. He holds the record of 33 successive scoring finishes.

Verstappen’s retirement in Spa last Sunday ended a run of 21 successive top five finishes. It was his first blank since Hungary in July 2018.

Leclerc’s first career F1 victory in Belgium made him Ferrari’s youngest winner, at 21 years old, and the sport’s third youngest after Verstappen and Vettel.

The Monegasque is the 39th driver to win for Ferrari, and Formula One’s 108th winner.