Jacques Villeneuve says Sebastian Vettel endured a year of “agony” at Ferrari, but insists that overall it will have been well worth it financially for the German driver.
Vettel concluded his troubled 2020 campaign a distant 13th in the drivers’ championship with 33 points, or 65 points less than Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc.
It was by far the four-time world champion’s worst season since his full-time debut in the sport in 2008, with only a single podium finish to show for his efforts.
“It was a very tough year for Vettel,” Villeneuve told Sky Sports Italy.
“It was agony for him actually and he will be happy to go home. He can now recharge the batteries and start thinking about next year.”
During his six-year tenure with the Scuderia, Vettel delivered 14 wins to the Italian outfit and finished runner-up to Lewis Hamilton in the championship twice, in 2017 and 2018.
But last season marked a turning point for the 33-year-old whose edge was lost to the speed and skills of Leclerc, Ferrari’s protégé.
It was the start of a slow decline for Vettel. And this year’s weak SF1000 only magnified the performance disparity between Ferrari’s drivers.
“Vettel has done everything for Ferrari, but in recent years you saw that Ferrari started doing everything for Leclerc. Even the car was made for him,” added Villeneuve.
“Vettel didn’t get a good car this year, but he did get it from Ferrari in the past. But in those moments, he made too many mistakes. This year the problem was the team and the car, of course.
“Before that he was the hero and the one who had to help move Ferrari forward. After that it was all about Leclerc.”
Read also: Vettel’s heartfelt tribute to a talented and worthy teammate
But Villeneuve nevertheless singled at least one positive Vettel could take away from his experience at Ferrari.
“Vettel can at least look at his bank account and laugh.”
The German is considered to have been be one of Formula 1’s top earners during his tie at the House of Maranello, with an estimated annual contract worth a rumored €35 million, an amount surpassed only by Hamilton’s Mercedes retainer.
However, this year’s truncated season will have likely forced Vettel to leave a significant amount of money on the table as drivers were all round given pay cuts to reflect the lesser number of races due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Still, Vettel will move on to Aston Martin Racing a richer man.
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