Insight into “daunting” job as Sebastian Vettel strategist after “critical” jab at Ferrari | F1

The four-time F1 champion had criticised the strategy of his former team, Ferrari, where he underwhelmed and failed to add to the tally of titles he had won at Red Bull.

He memorably complained that Ferrari’s instructions at Silverstone in 2020 “didn’t make any sense”.

So when he swapped red for green for the 2021 season, Vettel’s arrival required the strategists at Aston Martin to swiftly forge a bond.

“Well you know, when he first arrives, you know, he’s coming to the team, you know, he’s going to be there for testing,” said Bernie Collins, Vettel’s strategist in that season, to Beyond the Grid. 

“And obviously as a strategist, I didn’t go to testing and you don’t immediately start to build a relationship.

“ And then you’re trying to go through some races that you’ve done in the past and start him understanding how we make calls on things, why we make calls and things, how we build the tyre model, how we form our strategy, how we interact with the media, all these things.

“So it was very daunting, knowing that he has been so critical in the past. 

“Even in the strategy meetings still, he would ask a lot of questions – very on top of what’s going on. Really wanted to understand the plans. 

“It did feel a bit of a spotlight on strategy in that moment, just because you wanted to get off on the right foot. 

“It was very important to start off on the right foot. And, you know, we did we did that pretty successfully, I think.

“And he was definitely a lot kinder in person than what I expected. And maybe that was just expectation managed. But, you know, the relationship was really great.”

Collins pointed out Vettel’s key traits as a driver: “Two things: he had very good understanding of what you’re trying to achieve and why it might or might not work. And he had a very good memory for what had happened in the past. 

“He would often have gone through some previous races, and he’d say, ‘oh, what about like in, I don’t know, like 2010?’ 

“I was like, ‘I’ve not looked that far back’. So then you’d have to go and look at that one.

“You know, a lot of the great drivers, which Sebastian did, could really build a picture of what was going on around them and what you were trying to achieve as a strategy so he could imagine, you know, the lines that we have on the paper as it was happening in real life.

“He would always communicate through his race engineer, but he would always be discussing what was happening in the strategy. 

“And you hear it a lot from those drivers that are fit to watch a TV screen and say ‘so-and-so has pitted. I’ve seen them come in the pattern on the TV. 

“I know what’s going to happen next’ – and they’re building the image of what it’s looking like.”

Vettel spent two years at Aston Martin – finishing 12th in the F1 standings in both – before announcing his shock retirement a year ago.

Collins, meanwhile, can now be found on Sky Sports’ F1 broadcasts sharing her knowledge of race strategy.

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