Sebastian Vettel believes that fellow world champion Sir Lewis Hamilton does not “strive” to just be fighting for points every race, and reckons that George Russell is enjoying life more right now having spent three years at the back with Williams.
Vettel has experienced it all in F1 since his arrival in 2007, from fighting towards the back, to being on the fringes on the points, and of course, winning four world championships on the trot between 2010 and 2013.
As a result, the German has a very good idea of how Hamilton must be feeling right now given the lack of pace for Mercedes.
Having won six of the last seven titles with the Silver Arrows, the German side have struggled to adapt to the new technical regulations, and find themselves a long way off Red Bull and Ferrari.
Hamilton has not been on the podium sine the opening round in Bahrain, and he has been out-qualified four times by Russell after the 24-year-old was signed from Williams to replace Valtteri Bottas.
In Imola, the seven-time champion crossed the line legitimately outside the top 10 on pace for the first time on pace since 2013, if you discount the brake issue he suffered in Baku in 2021.
It has not been an easy first seven rounds, which have been plagued by misfortune and an underperforming W13, and Vettel, who has not been at the front since 2019 with Ferrari, does not believe his good friend will be too crazy about his current results.
“When you get to know the sport in the way I have done, and Lewis has done, winning and being at the top is what you strive for,” the Aston Martin driver said.
“Does it excite you to finish eighth, or 12th or 13th? No it doesn’t, when you know you have been first so many times – and in Lewis’ case more than any other guy.
“George comes in, he spent three years at Williams suffering to death at the rear of the field, scoring the odd point, and then suddenly he is eighth or 12th and life for him is amazing.
“Everybody is different, but you need to be fair from the outside and say, look, is Lewis naturally going to be as fired up about finishing eighth as George probably is? No, and I would be surprised if he was.”
Vettel appears to be mulling retirement from the pinnacle of motorsport for a multitude of reasons.
He has been questioning whether he wants to continue travelling the world due to the environmental issues it causes, and the fact that his 53rd and last victory came nearly three years ago means that he is not racing where he wants to be.
However, he said “yes” when asked if he fears retirement, because he simply does not know what life has in store for him after racing.
“I have done motor racing for my whole life and it gives you security, in terms of the schedule being made by other people,” he said during the launch of Peroni’s ‘IL PITSTOP.’
“I don’t know what life after Formula One looks like and I don’t think any sportsperson knows what the next life looks like. You can have certain things lined up but you don’t know and that is the truth.
“I don’t expect to find something tomorrow which I am really good at because I have found something in my life that I am really good at and it is hard to find that again. How many times can you win the lottery?
“I enjoy driving the car but there are other things I don’t like. After so many years the usual stuff comes up that you don’t understand at the beginning, like the travel.
“It is very time consuming and I have kids at home and a family so it equals time away from them.
“The future depends on this year and the races that I have coming up. I have not decided yet. The summer is the usual time when you start to talk so we will see.”
Vettel is currently 15th in the Drivers’ Championship having scored points three times this season, most recently last time out in Monaco.