Sebastian Vettel experienced one of the most frustrating race weekends of his career in Melbourne. The Heppenheimer threw his car into the wall twice. Team boss Mike Krack then defended the four-time world champion.
Sebastian Vettel's season should have really got off to a flying start in Melbourne. After surviving the corona disease, the German was finally able to complete his first race weekend with a delay of two Grands Prix. But in the end, three practice sessions, one qualifying session and the race totaled just 48 laps. It really wasn't worth the long journey.
The balance sheet reads like a nightmare: engine problem in the first practice, 5,000 euros fine for an illegal scooter ride on the track, repair break in the second practice, crash in the third practice, only one hectic run in qualifying, flashing in the pit lane (600 euros penalty), the fourth from last place on the grid and then in the race first a ride into the gravel (lap 10) and finally the final retirement after a crash in turn four (lap 22).
No criticism of Vettel
"There aren't many positives to take away from this weekend. It can't get any worse. So the next race can only get better," Vettel tried to see things positively. "I found it very difficult. Of course we're not as fast as we want to be. Maybe I'll run over the car at the moment and want to get too much out of it. We have a lot of problems, but unfortunately no solutions yet."
Vettel actually wanted to learn more about his sports equipment during the race. But the fun ended before half time. After Vettel had exchanged his racing overalls for street clothes, the FIA doctors also reported that he had to show up at the Medical Center. A preventive check is mandatory for impacts with a delay of more than 15g. But Vettel was able to give the all-clear quickly. Except for the self-confidence nothing was scratched.
The self-appointed experts in the paddock and on social media were of course quick to criticize. But team boss Mike Krack took his protégé directly out of the line of fire: "Everything is fine with Seb. The fact that a driver like him, a four-time world champion, has so many problems over a weekend has nothing to do with his driving performance."
Bouncing like a wall
Instead, Krack passes the buck to the engineers, who provide the Heppenheimer with a car that can only make you look bad. "It's not normal when a driver of his caliber is off the track so often over a weekend. It has nothing to do with missing two races. He's won several times in Melbourne. He knows where to go It would be too easy to blame the performance on the two race break."
Now it's the technicians' duty to improve the car as quickly as possible. According to Krack, it was actually hoped that the pace would improve a step in Melbourne. "But unfortunately we couldn't show that." The big problem is the bouncing on the straights continues. The mechanics have to screw the suspension of the AMR22 up so far that the aerodynamics are out of the window.
"The car has potential, but we can't get it out of the package at the moment. We have problems with aerodynamics and weight. We've made progress on the weight. Not with aerodynamics. That's what we need to focus on now. Bouncing prevents us from progressing with development. It's like a wall. That's very frustrating," says Krack about the current state of mind.
Spare parts production slows down development
Since Melbourne, a second challenge has now been added. The numerous crashes of both drivers have plundered the spare parts store properly. According to information from auto motor und sport, there were on Sunday the last available suspension parts on the front left of the cars. Imola definitely has to be reproduced, otherwise the slightest mistake in training could result in a race cancellation.
Krack doesn't want to deny the lack of spare parts for long: "I'm sure that everyone has the Counted the number of front wings and suspension parts that we damaged. You can easily calculate how much we need for Imola. The question now is how much capacity we use to develop the car and how much we use to produce spare parts. We've been having these discussions internally since Saturday."
Krack himself cannot be held responsible for the current misery. The successor to Otmar Szafnauer, who has turned his back on Alpine, has only been on board at Silverstone for six weeks. And he spends most of that time traveling
The engineer is still in the process of identifying the weaknesses and strengths of his team. The fact that team owner Lawrence Stroll is not exactly known for his patience and level-headedness makes the job natural It couldn't be easier. The racing team needs rest right now to get out of the emergency.
The team boss doesn't look for excuses. The crisis does not catch the 50-year-old unprepared: "I asked a lot of questions before I started this job have. I knew it was a challenge. And I never expected it to be easy. This is Formula 1. You have to build a fast car, you can't afford to make any mistakes and you need good drivers. We don't have the whole package together at the moment."