Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Riccardo expect their former team-mate Sebastian Vettel to bounce back after a tough start to the 2020 Formula 1 season with Ferrari.
During the coronavirus break Vettel was told by Ferrari his contract will not be renewed for 2021 as the Italian squad moved to replace the four-time world champion with McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jr.
It spells the end of Vettel’s rollercoaster six-year Ferrari stint, which hasn’t delivered an elusive fifth F1 world title, with his 2020 title hopes wrecked by a poor start to the season as he currently holds 11th place in the drivers’ standings after the opening six rounds.
Vettel’s last season at Maranello has been a difficult one so far as the German has been struggling to get to grips with an ill-handling SF1000, while Ferrari is unable to match the performance levels of Mercedes and Red Bull at the front of the pack.
Despite Vettel making his worst start to a season in his 13-year F1 career, Kimi Raikkonen believes his former Ferrari team-mate will turn things around.
“I’m sure he’s not very happy about how things are going, but that’s how it is”, Raikkonen said ahead of last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.
“Ferrari is Ferrari and people are looking at those things, for sure the Italians. But I doubt it will affect how he does his job there.
“I think he’s been in the sport long enough to know that sometimes it’s like that and to find a way to turn it around.”
Raikkonen, Ferrari’s last world champion in 2007 who now drives for Alfa Romeo, doesn’t think the added pressure from the Italian media and the team’s passionate supporters has had a negative effect on Vettel’s performances.
“I never found it any different than any other team,” he explained. “Obviously if you read all the newspapers it will be a bit more bad, but I never looked at those things.
“When I was there sometimes we had bad times and the Italians can be harsh on you on the media side, but that’s how it is. That’s how it works in this business.”
Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, who was Vettel’s team-mate at Red Bull in 2014, also expects Vettel to bounce back and not “walk away from a problem”.
“I think one thing with Seb is he’s very passionate about the sport, he loves it,” Ricciardo explained. “He’s someone that’s going to analyse everything and find a way to improve or find an answer to a question. I don’t think he’s a guy to just walk away from a problem.
“I think he cares too much, whether it’s pure love for the sport or the pride he has in himself. I expect him to bounce back. I certainly do.
“If he wants to keep doing it and if he believes he can keep doing it at the top level he’s shown for the last 10 years, then 100 percent he should stay in the sport. He’s good for the sport, but that’s up to him to answer.”
Vettel has been linked to a move to Racing Point for 2021, set to be rebranded as Aston Martin next year, having admitted he’s held “loose talks” with the team last month.