Vettel to leave Ferrari: The German's highs and lows with the Scuderia

When Sebastian Vettel joined Ferrari ahead of the 2015 Formula One season he arrived with dreams of emulating the great Michael Schumacher at the Italian giants.

The allure was easy to see for Vettel given fellow German Schumacher won five straight titles in a glorious period between 2000 and 2004 with the Scuderia, F1's most famous franchise.

Yet, despite signs of promise at times, there was a clear fissure between the great dream and the harsh reality and Vettel – a four-time world champion with Red Bull – never quite reached his own expectations.

Five years on, Vettel is departing with his future in F1 unclear. It was not all disappointment, though, and here we take a look at the 32-year-old's highs and lows with Ferrari.


HIGHS

2015: Winning the Malaysian Grand Prix

The previous campaign had been bleak for Ferrari, who failed to win a race all season. But in just the second round of 2015 Vettel provided hope of an unlikely title challenge with the dominant Mercedes when he defeated Lewis Hamilton in a straight fight for his maiden victory with the team. With Mercedes' tyres struggling in the heat at Sepang, Vettel was able to triumph in a tactical tussle. Things panned out as predicted in the end with Hamilton beating team-mate Nico Rosberg to the title, but Vettel was able to win twice more in a solid debut campaign.

2015: Podium at Monza 

Hamilton, after Mercedes were cleared of flouting tyre-pressure rules, picked up a dominant win at Monza that year. But Vettel secured a podium finish and was on the second step at Ferrari's home grand prix in his first outing with the team at the track, where he had won three times, as the chasing Rosberg had to retire due to engine failure three laps from the end. However, Vettel has never won at Monza with Ferrari, whose nine-year drought in Italy was ended by Charles Leclerc in 2019.

2017: Stunning Canada comeback

While it was once again Hamilton celebrating in Canada, it was the sixth time he stood on the top step in Montreal, Vettel – leading the championship at the time – put in a blinding performance in a dramatic race. Forced to pit early due to a damaged front wing sustained after contact with Max Verstappen at the start of the race, Vettel found himself down in 18th. However, a high-risk strategy of aggressive overtaking saw him recover in sensational fashion to fourth. His pass of Force India's Esteban Ocon was a particularly impressive manoeuvre.

2018: Brilliant in Bahrain

On his 200th F1 start, Vettel celebrated victory in a memorable Bahrain battle. In a race where team-mate Kimi Raikkonen collided with a mechanic in the pits, which left the unfortunate crew member with a broken leg, Valtteri Bottas pushed Vettel hard and Hamilton battled through the pack from ninth as Mercedes chased an unlikely one-two. With his tyres deteriorating and Bottas closing in, Vettel clung on to complete a masterclass.


LOWS

2016: Winless second season

There had been moments of promise in 2015 but Vettel's second season with the Scuderia was a forgettable one. Mercedes won all but two races as Rosberg finally toppled Hamilton to win his only F1 title (he would retire at the end of the campaign). Vettel finished fourth in the standings behind Daniel Ricciardo and was on the podium only seven times as Ferrari were left with plenty to ponder. 

2017: Japan retirement all but ends title hopes

All the signs were of a real battle for the title in 2017. Vettel led after the Belgian Grand Prix in August that year and was only three points behind when Hamilton triumphed in Italy. But a crash in Singapore was followed by engine issues in Malaysia, where he battled from the back to finish fourth. More engine woe in Japan led to another retirement, though, as Hamilton stole into a 59-point lead with 100 remaining.

2019: Vettel in a spin during Monza nightmare

Last season was not one Vettel will remember with any fondness. There was a controversial five-second penalty in Canada that saw him demoted to second behind Hamilton after stewards deemed he committed an act of dangerous driving by pushing the Mercedes man off track when re-joining after running wide at turn three. In Monza, it was a nightmare for Vettel – who had the ignominy of watching Leclerc end Ferrari's wait for Italian glory – in a moment of madness. After spinning off at the Ascari chicane, Vettel recklessly re-entered without looking and crashed into the Racing Point of Lance Stroll. A 10-second stop-go penalty was awarded but he could have been in far greater bother.

2019: Double DNF after crash with Leclerc in Brazil

Leclerc may have been in his debut season with Ferrari but the young upstart clearly had no desire to play second fiddle and tensions were fraught at times with Vettel last year. Things unravelled in Brazil when Leclerc made a fine pass into turn one with five laps to go to move into fourth. Vettel attempted to come back into turn four and had enough room around the outside, only to edge back across and collide with his team-mate leading to a double DNF in a horror show for Ferrari.