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Vettel dominates Silverstone
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Vettel dominates Silverstone
Posted By:   |  21 Jun 2009   |  4:01 pm GMT  |  0 comments

Sebastian Vettel put in a peerless performance today to win the British Grand Prix, his second victory of the season and the third of his brief career. He turns 22 next week.

"We're on our way, son"
Red Bull Racing have made a big improvement to their car, but there is no doubt that the circuit and the conditions played to their strengths and Brawn’s weaknesses. The Brawn drivers were struggling, relatively speaking, Button had a tougher time than Barrichello, but it was interesting that none of the other cars was fast enough to beat the Brawn to the podium.

The question then is, will Red Bull be ahead in the second half of the season and make a championship of it? They were faster in Istanbul, but Vettel made a mistake on the opening lap.

Webber was unlucky this weekend. He looked to have the measure of Vettel in the run up to qualifying, there was nothing in it. Red Bull gave Webber the lighter fuel load for qualifying which meant he was supposed to get the pole, but they gave Vettel the better race strategy. They were meticulously fair with the drivers, who were told that they could race each other. People are suggesting that they should now favour Vettel and give him the best of everything as he has closed the gap on Button to 23 points, which is the kind of gap Kimi Raikkonen was able to close up on Lewis Hamilton in 2007.

So will Webber be the number two from now on? Given that the gap between them is only 4.5 points that would be harsh. It certainly looks like the Red Bull drivers will close the gap, whether they can make a championship of it we will know after the next two races.

Ferrari and Williams both had good days. Ferrari took Felipe Massa from 11th on the grid to fourth, while Williams converted a good qualifying performance by both cars into a solid four points for Nico Rosberg in fifth place. Their respective team mates both had days which started promisingly but ended in disappointment, Raikkonen running fifth in the early stages but finishing eighth and Nakajima a very positive fourth in the opening stint, but his early stop pit strategy dropped him down to 11th.

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  1. Jo says:

    James, is it you who is now doing the Press Conference questions? If not, who has replaced Windsor? And either way, why? This is the source of much debate on forums and we’ve not been able to find information anywhere. Thanks for any insight!

  2. Darren M says:

    I feel a bit sorry for Mark Webber. It’s difficult to see him challenging for race wins, never mind the championship. To be fair he’s doing a decent job, he’s only 4.5 points behind his team mate, and he beat him in the 3 races before Silverstone. But the reality is he is being completely outclassed by Vettel. Remember the days when Webber was considered the master qualifier? The 0-8 qualifying record with Webber has damaged that reputation somewhat. But if Webber really is qualifying as well as ever, then its safe to assume that Vettel is something special.

    I’m British so perhaps I should have been supporting Button today but in reality I was really glad he only finished 6th, mainly because it opens up the championship a bit, but also because I didn’t like his attitude towards Jake Humphrey in the feature they showed on the BBC yesterday.

  3. LMW says:

    Great coverage, James – and nice to hear you on the telly again in the press conference – you kept that quiet!

  4. CanadianF1fan says:

    Getting up at 0500 to watch was worth it, if only for the spirited scraps at the back of the pack with Hamilton, Alonsa, Hiedfeld, and Kubica – nobody can say they weren’t giving it 100%.

    Nice to see Vettel drive so well, and interesting to see how Button was unable to get the car working at all, at least Rubens seemed to be able to get some heat in the tires. Needless to say, it was fun to watch, and as James says, the next couple rounds will tell us how tight it will be come the end of the season.

    As to the Red Bulls, Vettel is clearly the best horse to back for them, and if they are serious about trying to wrestle this thing away from Button in the latter half, they’d best put their energy where it will garner the greatest return – Webber is not that place.

  5. Drew says:

    Vettel was great but Massa driver of the day!!!

  6. Mike says:

    You have to wonder whether the lack of pre-season testing is hurting Brawn on these cooler days. All the other teams tested their cars in February and January, and it is clear Brawn struggle to warm the tyres enough in cooler conditions. RBR will probably be doing rain dances for the rest of the season.:P

  7. Matthew says:

    I wonder how much the Red Bull’s performance was down to this new nose cone – this win was too easy for Vettel and Red Bull. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in Germany next.

    P.S. I’m 99.9% sure that was you James interviewing the drivers in the press conference. Good to hear your voice once again, and let’s hope we hear more of it very soon!

  8. David says:

    Congratulations to Vettel and Red Bull – a great job done today. It will be fascinating to see whether they retain their edge in the next couple of races….I guess much depends on the weather each weekend and also whether Brawn can keep developing their car at the same pace as RB – I hope the lack of sponsorship won’t now take its toll on Brawn.

    One question James: is it fair to assume from the lack of progress by McLaren in recent races that they have ‘done a Honda’ and have abandoned this year’s car in favour of getting an early start for 2010?

  9. Jon says:

    RBR were quicker in Istanbul.. what the heck?

    Rewatch Button’s press conference after the race please. Button would have finished 30 seconds infront of both RBR cars, had Button not wound down the engine and cruised for the last 10 laps. Vettel’s mistake had no result on the outcome. Look at the times Button did on his long middle stint. He was 0.3-0.4 quicker. Unbeatable, he said this himself in the BBCi forum after the race that Brawn were simply too quick, fullstop.

    After this race, maybe there is some hope though, but you would still think Brawn will be strong on the other circuits, that don’t have sections like S1 at Silverstone. It will take some bad luck for Button, or for some more results like today (p4-p6) and maybe things could get interesting.

  10. Raz says:

    Great race James, compared to Turkey.. overtaking thru out the field.. Also was that you in the Post Race Press Conf?

  11. Luke Potter says:

    James, was that you asking the questions in the post-race press conference?

  12. Peter says:

    Flawless from Vettel today. What a nice guy as well, like most f1 drivers in f1 today. Good to hear you James interviewing the top 3 drivers after the race. You did a grand job as ever!

  13. jano says:

    I’ll respectfully disagree about RedBull being faster than Brawn GP in Istanbul.
    Vettel got pole position there on a lighter fuel load but the race pace was not close enough to the Brawn GP car.

  14. Sledge says:

    Yo James nice job with the post race press conference!

    What happened to the LG TV monitors?

    When did they decide to fire Peter?

  15. Chris says:

    James,

    Was at club corner today, Vettel was sensational! The game was up by the end of lap 2 if you ask me. Not sure they can catch Brawn in the championship but certainly the 2nd half of the season will be much much closer.

    PS

    I see you were in charge of proceedings at the post race press conference, a nice surprise! Is this a permanent gig? If so congratulations!

  16. Steve W says:

    A very interesting result! It was not so much that Red Bull scored a 1-2 finish, but the sheer performance advantage they had over Brawn and everyone else, particularly that first stint from Vettel when he was lapping a full second per lap faster than the rest. That’s the biggest performance advantage we have seen from anyone in a race this season. That leads me to think not only did Silverstone suit the Red Bulls, but the upgrades they brought have now moved them ahead of Brawn in the performance stakes, though Brawn were struggling with tyre temperatures. It does make for a very interesting few races ahead now, because Brawn have now got to rise to the challenge and bring some developments to their car to fight back.

    On another note, watching the post race press conference, I noticed that you were asking the questions James. Have you taken over that role permanently now from Peter Windsor, who presumably is busy with the USGPE F1 project?

  17. Kristian says:

    Kovalainen’s and Bourdais’ accident didn’t bring out the safety car which was great. There have been too many safety car periods in F1 over the past few years. Granted, it has made for odd results (Alonso in Singapore) but it detracts from the racing as much as tire changes and refueling. But they tangled on one of three (maybe four) passing spots on track. Should F1 adopt some sort of pillow encrusted zamboni to sweep sections of the track under double yellows conditions to prevent 1)safety cars and 2)removal of overtaking zones?

  18. Paul says:

    James, It would be interesting to know why Webber seems to be slightly faster on little fuel ie. Q2 and why Vetel gets the pace out of the car in Q3 with race fuel on board. Is it something about their respective styles??? Maybe Mark should be the one having a crack at the three stopper??? I understand Webber set his Q2 time in one run and on the harder tyre which makes it pretty impressive, yet for some reason Vetel got the better time in Q3??? Mark should be paying close attention to Vetel’s Q3 process to see if he’s doing anything different. In any case Webber did what he had to do after failing to nail Rubens in the first couple of laps, which was score 8 points and not throw the car off the road. If he can just keep scoring he’ll be in the wash up at the end of the season a bit like Kubica was last year.

  19. Matthew says:

    Haha! Schumacher ‘outed’ as The Stig! I guess with you James writing two fantastic biographies of him, this was a closely guarded secret!

  20. PaulL says:

    I hate finding the racing so unengaging this year. Does anybody else find this?

    It’s not about one team dominating (whether it be Brawn or Red Bull), for me it’s about:
    - The cars, in my view, STILL look so unimpressive, I hate looking at them and thinking “this doesn’t really look like F1 anymore”.
    - The pecking order has been almost static since the start of the season. There appears to be very small development in comparison to 2006-2008.
    - The pecking-order shake-up has put some great drivers battling for low-low places. No matter how good a job Button and Vettel are doing (and I now think both really are), there’s little way of judging their performance against other great drivers.

    I honestly congratulate Jenson Button if he dominates the year on a deserved success, or Vettel if he’s able to come back, but I would REALLY REALLY like a better racing formula back.

  21. Ricardo Gianvilla says:

    Can you think of any 3 drivers who could have been easier to interview than SV, MW and RB? I said ” wasn’t that JA?” then had to wait 5 mins to hear you speak again!

  22. John of Woking says:

    Great to hear you asking the questions in the press converence. I felt Mr Winsor’s questions have been a little below par recently, yours were much better, especially considering the top 3 drivers had a relatively quiet afternoon this weekend.

    Is it just me or has the TV director been failing to show cars exiting the pits recently? I’m thinking of the Nico – Trulli battle in Turkey and there were a few this weekend, with most of the overtaking taking place in the pits you’d have thought it would have got more coverage.

  23. gourami says:

    A good race let down a bit because of Webber’s bad luck in Q3 with Kimi… and Webber being unable to jump Rubens off the line at the start… Vettel is clearly a future (this year?) World Champion… another race like this one will certainly start to make Button feel nervous…

  24. JohnBt says:

    Phew, fight from Vettel should help the season. Button’s spell has been broken. Back to racing.

  25. Craig March says:

    Slightly OT, but I thought the TV camera shots throughout the race were much better then from previous weekends. At one point the camera would follow the cars around 3 – 4 bends and you got a sense of the speed at which they were travelling.

    The Silverstone effect, or just good TV production?

    My highlight of the weekend was Hamilton’s general attitude (comments in qualifying, drivers lap, doughnuts after the race). He does seem more relaxed and happy(!) despite propping up the grid…

  26. *Paul_W* says:

    Most boring race of the season by my reckoning. The Red Bull’s had the pace to win with ease and even after 10 laps the victory was all but complete. It was obvious Webber would get 2nd place too. At least at the other races the margin of win has being far far closer. The first non Red Bull was over 40seconds down the road at Silverstone. That’s not good if it goes on like that.

    All the drivers/team owners talk of Silverstone putting on a great race seemed rather odd given what we’d just seen. The track is one where overtaking is difficult due to it’s high speed corners. Donington may prove to give us better racing. Roll on Nurburgring and hopefully the Brawn’s and Red Bull’s going at it with the change to pass!

  27. Christoff says:

    Most boring race? At Silverstone you get a real sense of speed, even on the TV, the direction changes are absolutely awesome, ok so Vettel walked away with it but what a performance, and what a fantastic non-partisan reaction from the crowd.

  28. Nick Watterson says:

    We all know that racing drivers can be a superstitious bunch… Whether it be always getting in and out the car from the same side each time, always wearing the same underwear for every race, or carrying something in the car with them…

    I realise that he has a tradition of wearing a special helmet for Silverstone, and a lucky fan had won a design competition… But why would Jenson decide to wear a different helmet, after the start of the season he has had..? His ‘Brawn-colours’ had brought him great luck so far this season… Surely this was tempting fate…!?!

    If you’re thinking about some off-the-wall blog topics… What are some of the funniest-quirkiest superstitions and rituals that you have heard of over the years??

  29. Leo Allen says:

    Fascinating how Vettel used almost the same words to describe his Silverstone win as Button used just two weeks ago after his win in Turkey.

    ‘The car was perfect for the conditions this weekend . The tyres were never a problem.’ It was a perfect race.

    So can we take it that whenever it’s a fast flowing track and the temperatures are high Button will have an advantage and where there are cool conditions Vettel should be in front ? OK, we know the Newey magic is at work on the Red Bull cars, but it seems highly unlikely that Brawn have run out of significant development ammunition for the 2009 championship either, so…

    Looking at the forthcoming venues there does seem to be a greater chance of hot conditions as the European summer gets into gear….mmmmm….

    Going to be absolutely fascinating watching this superb struggle for dominance…and I don’t mean the yawn-a-minute handbag fight between Fota and FIA.

  30. Darren A says:

    James, was Raikkonen investigated for impeding Webber during Q3, if not why and if so why didn’t he get a gird penalty….i’ve seen grid penalties for less this year!

  31. Craig from Canada says:

    Anybody have any idea why Jarno Trulli is wearing a watch during a race? He gets strapped into the car and then pulls his gloves over it. The podium drivers put watches on when they are getting towels and drinks – I presume it’s because they are sponsored by the watchmaker, but Jarno wears one the whole race. Could it be a superstition? It looks like a very large watch, and I can’t see him having a meeting to be at or a bus to catch right after the race.

  32. Paul says:

    Hi James,

    How come when Raikkonen went off at the first bend on the first lap, running wide he came back still overtaking cars, so gained a advantage?

  33. James Allen says:

    Yes, took it on from this race and really enjoyed it. Have always enjoyed asking the questions. Peter has his hands pretty full nowadays

  34. James Allen says:

    No, they have a big update but decided not to bring it ahead of schedule to Silverstone, but to bring it through for Germany.

  35. Barry says:

    Talking about the press conference it must be a dream interviewing Vettel as he does all the work. He seems to love to chat and it’s always in a positive manner. Rubens and Jenson also talked at length without really needing to be asked anyting today, it must be something in the Silverstone water!

  36. Antoine says:

    What driver or team principle do you enjoy asking questions to the most?

  37. Ben G says:

    Good to hear you again after the race. That’s a good gig to get, and easy too. But I hope it doesn’t mean you’ve joined the Dark Side!

  38. James Allen says:

    I’ll save the answer to that for a post some time

  39. James Allen says:

    Webber lost time behind Raikkonen on the run into Stowe corner, he was furious about it as it cost him his shot at a win

  40. PaulL says:

    If you’re referring to my post, I’d be really interested to hear what you think about F1.

    I apologise too for some of my posts over the time here. I would like to be able to argue more as my own view without making judgments on others. It’s not a place for putdowns (including officials and F1 personnel) and your journalism is very good.

  41. Charlie says:

    It was a PR stunt… the Stig is really Ben Collins

  42. James Allen says:

    No.

  43. James Allen says:

    It’s amazing how often we have seen people do a special helmet and their luck runs out. Chrome seems to be particularly unlucky.

  44. James Allen says:

    Same director from FOM TV as usual

  45. James Allen says:

    You are very welcome and so are your comments. We don’t allow character assassinations and slagging off here because I’ve been on the wrong end of some mindless stuff over the years and I think it achieves nothing. There should be a place where people can discuss F1 intelligently without name calling, not being over serious about it, just celebrating it because we all love F1.

  46. *Paul_W* says:

    Just to clarify I meant it was the most boring race so far this season thanks to the Red Bull’s complete and utter dominance. Silverstone occasionally produces decent races, but not this weekend just gone. I’ve watched many a Silverstone GP from the track side and although Maggots/Beckett’s is spectacular (and is my viewpoint of choice) the track doesn’t lend itself to overtaking.

    The 2009 British Grand Prix was forgettable in an instant, there was no question about who’d win and get on the podium at the end of lap one. The nature of the track means that the aero issues make it difficult to pass, and that’s really not so great for F1. Silverstone needs somewhere which people can pass and at present it’s sadly lacking. Compare with the end of the back straight in Turkey and I’m sure you’ll see what I mean.

  47. Stevie P says:

    I’m sure both Ferrari drivers left the track, at the start, at Copse corner and made positions up as a consequence.

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