Sebastian Vettel has a poor track record dealing with pressure, dating back to when Daniel Ricciardo briefly became his teammate, former F1 driver Gerhard Berger says.
The German was a four-time world champion at Red Bull, but was outdriven by Ricciardo when the Australian was first promoted to the team from Toro Rosso (now AlphaTauri) in 2014.
Vettel soon departed for Ferrari where he failed to win another world title in six pressure-filled years, most notably in 2018 when Lewis Hamilton won eight of the final 11 races to come from behind and claim the drivers’ championship.
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Speaking on In the Fast Lane podcast, Berger said Vettel is still an “outstanding” driver, but has a glaring stain on his career which Ricciardo first exposed.
“He never reacted well under pressure,” said 10-time Grand Prix winner Berger.
“Remember when Daniel came to Red Bull (he) was very strong and he put pressure on Sebastian? For Sebastian it was difficult to cope with it. In Ferrari it was the same thing.
“I just feel when you watch him, you feel he’s not free. He’s not relaxed enough. He’s trying to prove things that, at this moment, aren’t possible because the car isn’t good enough or his own form isn’t good enough.”
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He added: “In some way it just doesn’t work out well for him. He starts to make mistakes and people start to question him.
“That’s just step-by-step more pressure, and, as I said at the beginning, he doesn’t like pressure.”
In the 2014 season, Ricciardo claimed three Grand Prix wins and scored 238 points on his way to third in the drivers’ championship.
Vettel came fifth with just 167 points and no Grand Prix wins.
Having been forced out of Ferrari last year, Vettel now drives for Aston Martin (formerly Racing Point).
He came 15th in the 2021 season-opener in Bahrain last weekend.