It was the divorce that dragged on for most of 2020, and behind the scenes things weren’t so rosy for Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari.
The tension in the Ferrari camp during last year’s dismal Formula One campaign has been highlighted in the latest season of the Netflix series Drive to Survive.
Leclerc finished eighth in the world championship, while Vettel was a distant 13th, announcing during the year that he would leave to join Aston Martin in 2021.
Episode four of Drive to Survive focuses on the problems at Ferrari, with the opening scene a revealing insight into the drama.
Vettel is unveiling the helmet he’ll use for Ferrari’s home race at Monza, joking that “the best feature about this helmet for this weekend is that I will be able to take my mask off as soon as I’m wearing the helmet”.
The Italian Grand Prix followed a disastrous Belgian race for the Scuderia, where Vettel finished 13th and Leclerc 14th, something that a Ferrari team member is acutely aware of.
“We cannot be too funny considering the performance after Belgium,” he tells Vettel.
The four-time world champion wasn’t amused.
“I think you should be funny if you look at our performance,” he replied.
“So, is that the credo for this weekend? Don’t laugh? No jokes?”
Vettel’s real thoughts are revealed in an exchange with his engineers during their track walk prior to the weekend. Asked if Monza will be a bit like 2019, Vettel’s reply was straight to the point.
“I think it will be a mess.”
It was an assessment that proved spot on, with both Vettel and Leclerc failing to finish in an embarrassing home race for the Scuderia.
But worse was to come a week later, ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix at Mugello. Amid celebrations for Ferrari’s 1000th grand prix, Vettel announced he would be joining Aston Martin for 2021.
Eyebrows were raised at the timing of the announcement, with some seeing it as a move to take the gloss off the Ferrari milestone.
Head of communications for Ferrari, Silvia Hoffer, is seen hosting a team briefing for both drivers where she deals with the questions Vettel and Leclerc can expect to receive from the media that day.
Hoffer noted that Vettel’s announcement came on the back of confirmation from Sergio Perez that he would be leaving Racing Point (now Aston Martin) at the end of 2020.
“Yeah, it’s the truth as well,” Vettel interjected.
But Vettel’s former team boss at Red Bull, Christian Horner, wasn’t buying the coincidence.
“Timing tells you everything, he couldn’t have picked a more inappropriate time for the team but I guess he was pissed off,” he said.
Vettel’s Ferrari career ended in disappointment, with his last 11 races in red yielding just one finish better than 10th.
When asked why the season had been so difficult, Vettel broke into a broad grin.
“We don’t have that much time! Next question.”
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!