It was his fifth season at Ferrari when Michael Schumacher won the 2000 drivers' championship with the Italian team for the first time. For 21 years, the Tifosi had been waiting for this moment. On October 8, Schumacher secured the title prematurely in Suzuka - and plunged his team into a frenzy of joy. Tears flowed, then team boss Jean Todt kissed his pilot's helmet.
Two weeks ago in Monza, another man in a red racing suit was enthralled by his team and celebrated by thousands of fans for the first victory on the domestic racetrack for nine years. "A huge red heart beats under the stands, drunk with happiness", wrote the Italian "Gazzetta dello Sport". The pilot who made that possible spoke a few words in Italian after the race - just like Schumacher did in Suzuka. The Tifosi celebrated their new hero.
The man's name is Charles Leclerc.
This moment must have been for Sebastian Vettel the heaviest defeat of a defeat not just poor season. "A good day for the team, but not a good day for me", summed up the Ferrari driver, who finished the race in Monza after two driving mistakes and a time penalty in 13th - and who could never win on the home track of the Scuderia.
DIEGO AZUBEL / EPA-EFE / REX
Charles Leclerc: The new hero in red
It is the fifth year for Vettel at Ferrari, the 32-year-old is now a year older than his great role model Michael Schumacher it was in his first success for the Scuderia. Vettel was a four-time world champion from Red Bull to Ferrari, to participate in the reconstruction of the traditional racing team - just like his idol at that time. This season it should finally work out with the World Cup. In Italy, the title has been waiting for eleven years. But since the beginning of the season a lot has gone wrong.
Title already written off after six races
The test drives in the run-up to the season showed that Ferrari initially had the fastest car with the SF90. Due to the change of leadership at the top of the racing team, the power struggle between Maurizio Arrivabene and the former technology director Mattia Binotto was ended. Binotto was behind Vettel, who liked the car.
But then the new season began as the old one ended: Mercedes dominated. In the first five races of the season, world champion Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas celebrated five double victories for the team and left Ferrari four times no chance. And when Bahrain's first ever victory came, it was 21-year-old Leclerc who left Hamilton and his teammates behind. He then retired with an engine failure. Vettel, however, gambled away by a driving mistake in which he damaged his car, the chance of the podium.
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Lewis Hamilton (l.), Valtteri Bottas
After the sixth race of the season, team boss Binotto had already written off the World Cup, and two weeks later his number one lost his nerve. In Montreal Vettel made for a memorable scene, when he lost his first victory by a time penalty imposed on him to Hamilton and protested against the decision in which he chose himself shortly before the start of the award ceremony to the winner of the race.
And it did not get better: Ferrari began to put more weight on the front axle of the SF90 after the Canadian Grand Prix to reduce the problematic understeer. This, however, the tail was restless; a circumstance with which Leclerc could arrange much better than Vettel.
The Monegasse ran in its second Formula 1 season for more than a year winless Vettel rank by piece as the team's number one off - in the drivers' standings he has overtaken him after his second success in Italy already.
What's next for Vettel?
The resignation rumors circulating since summer had Vettel, whose contract at Ferrari is still running until the end of 2020, rejected - as well as a possible team change. The question of whether he will be able to compete in the duel with his young team-mate in the remaining races, occupies Formula One.
Nico Rosberg, who ended his career a few days after his World Cup title in 2016, said Leclerc had become the "Ferrari legend" in Monza, he could not explain the driving mistake and subsequent crash Vettel, however. Nevertheless, it should not be written off.
Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve had already criticized Ferrari in May for letting Leclerc start alongside Vettel this season. The role allocation problems weakened the whole team. Now Leclerec is in the favor of teams and media, for Vettel it was "really hard to get out of there". Alain Prost said, "I'm sure he'll come back." However, his team must help him, it should not be exercised even more pressure, so the four-time world champion.
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Vettel's advocate: Mattia Binotto
Binotto stood in front of the Singapore Grand Prix (Sunday 14.10 CET, live ticker: SPIEGEL ONLINE, TV: Sky, RTL) in front of Vettel: "I have faith in him, it is only a matter of time until he himself The whole team supports him and loves him, "he told the" Sport Bild ". Vettel is not just a driver, but helps to constantly improve and develop the team.
If Vettel but wants to be not just a driver, but the driver with the Ferrari in the coming season to fight for the world title, he must prove more stability and avoid the mistakes that have already cost him several times this season. Especially since he is only three penalty points away from a race.
On the winding city circuit in Singapore, the Ferrari is not a favorite, but Vettel likes the night race with its chaos factor. He has already won four times, as often as Hamilton. Binotto announced an update to make the SF90 more competitive in the slow corners.
It will show there if Vettel can report back after the disastrous weekend in Italy.