FORMULA 1 MOTORSPORT NEWS

There’s a time and place to ‘go for a gap’

The likelihood of Sebastian Vettel winning a fifth world title – and more importantly, bringing the world championship back to Maranello – was dealt another major blow on Sunday when the German driver found himself on the receiving end of his own bad judgement.

Vettel and Verstappen get together

Vettel initiated a bold move on the intrepid Max Verstappen at Spoon corner, the outcome of which sent him spinning and down the order, his title chances in tatters.

After crossing the checkered flag in sixth-place, the Ferrari driver called in to his team and delivered his verdict: “Not much to say. If I don’t go for that gap and the gap is there, I might as well stay at home. Grazie ragazzi.”

Interestingly, Vettel took a leaf out of the old Ayrton Senna book of racing, reviving the principle that should guide any driver worth his mettle.

“If you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver.”

Not all ‘gaps’ are equal however, as they come in various sizes and entail different amounts of risk.

Vettel was right, there was a gap. In circumstances void of any critical consequences, that gap was one worth taking a shot at, in line with Senna’s rule.

But in this instance, there clearly was the risk of a dire effect – the loss of a championship fight. A risk that Vettel should have measured while taking into account the particular context surrounding Verstappen at that point of the race, not to mention Verstappen himself and his typically uncompromising approach to wheel-to-wheel racing.
stake.

In motorsport, there’s a subtle balance between risk and reward that incessantly needs to be processed by a driver. One requires the ability to assess in a split second the practicality of a move relative to an opponent’s own situation – in this case Max’s 5-second penalty – and within the context of a bigger picture – presently Seb’s fight for the world championship.

There’s a time and place to go for a gap. Sebastian Vettel indirectly referenced the great Ayrton Senna when he said on Sunday “the gap was there”.

All things considered however, it’s doubtful the great Brazilian would have been impressed by the Ferrari driver’s move…

The Dutchman’s 5-second time penalty – handed to him after his early run-in with Kimi Raikkonen – meant that Vettel already had a virtual advantage over his rival that would have become real following the pair’s round of pitstops.

This should have been factored in by the four-time world champion, along with the fact that he had a more powerful engine and the advantage of DRS.

Tactically, he should have refrained from lunging down the inside at Spoon and declined the opportunity to undertake the high-risk maneuver given the size of the apparent ‘gap’ and the importance of what was at stake.

In motorsport, there’s a subtle balance between risk and reward that incessantly needs to be processed by a driver. One requires the ability to assess in a split second the practicality of a move relative to an opponent’s own situation – in this case Max’s 5-second penalty – and within the context of a bigger picture – presently Seb’s fight for the world championship.

There’s a time and place to go for a gap. Sebastian Vettel indirectly referenced the great Ayrton Senna when he said on Sunday “the gap was there”.

All things considered however, it’s doubtful the great Brazilian would have been impressed by the Ferrari driver’s move


Phillip van Osten
Editor of F1i.com