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2019 F1

Vettel struggling for number 1 status – Berger

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Rumours are now swirling around Sebastian Vettel’s suddenly unclear future.

The German, who headed into 2019 as Ferrari’s undisputed number 1, is now being blamed in part for the team’s crisis and under pressure from teammate Charles Leclerc.

“Seb is a hard worker, as Schumacher was,” F1 legend Gerhard Berger told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“But compared to Schumacher, he lacks the ability to lead the team and demand the commitment of key figures. And now he is 100 per cent focused on proving he is still the number 1.”

Vettel denies that Leclerc is putting his future in jeopardy.

“To be fair and respectful, I would not say that in the past I had easier teammates,” he is quoted by Speed Week.

“I do not think Kimi is slow. Of course they are different people, different drivers, different styles,” said the quadruple world champion.

A slew of predictable candidates are being linked with Vettel’s 2020 seat, but so too is the retired Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso.

Flavio Briatore, involved in Alonso’s management, thinks the Spaniard would have won the title for Ferrari last year.

But Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies told France’s Auto Hebdo: “We have not progressed as much as we would have liked since the end of the winter tests.

“We are behind everywhere in absolute performance. We need to improve on certain types of corners and the way that our aero works with the mechanical grip and the tyres,” he said.

But Berger also thinks Ferrari has to make Vettel more comfortable.

“Vettel needs a relaxed atmosphere and to feel at home,” he said. “At the moment he is suffering and cannot give 110 per cent.

“That was already the case with Ricciardo at Red Bull.”

What Berger does applaud is the appointment this year of Mattia Binotto.

“After the departure of Montezemolo and Domenicali, Ferrari changed,” he said. “It was a team that I no longer recognised.

“With Binotto, Ferrari has regained its DNA, but it takes time to stabilise the situation.

“It is difficult to assess the speed of the car, but what is certain is that if the team wants to fight for the championship, they need to eliminate all the stupid mistakes,” said Berger.

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