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So much so young: Sebastian Vettel
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Darren Heath
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Oct 2011   |  10:08 am GMT  |  266 comments

Some say he’s going to win as many titles as Schumacher, others say he’s still improving as a driver, while others say it’s all the car and Vettel cannot overtake.

No 24 year old driver has achieved more – two world titles, 19 wins, 27 pole positions.

And now Fernando Alonso has challenged him to a contest to see who can be the youngest ever three times world champion – one of them is likely to beat Ayrton Senna’s record of 31 years of age. Alonso has been waiting five years for his third title..

Whatever the hype, the hyperbole or the criticisms swirling around this morning, the fact of the matter is that Sebastian Vettel is now a two times world champion, the youngest of the nine drivers who have achieved that feat.

And he thoroughly deserves it. He wanted to clinch it in style yesterday with victory in Suzuka, but when it became clear that the Red Bull’s tyre wear was going to make that impossible and Jenson Button had him covered, pragmatism took over and he settled for a place on the podium and a smaller trophy to clutch as he celebrated his historic achievement.

Many F1 fans don’t like Vettel; they don’t like the finger he waves around when he comes first in a qualifying session or race, they don’t like the fact that he has the fastest car when he hasn’t struggled enough in his early life to deserve it – the dreaded “entitlement” argument so regularly trotted out against Lewis Hamilton. And they don’t like some of the things he does on the track like the chop on Button at the start yesterday, or the whirly finger “loony” gesture after he’d collided with team mate Mark Webber in Turkey last year.

I do like Vettel. I like him very much as a person and as a racing driver and I respect him, because he is true to his craft. He’s the perfect combination of fast, intelligent, focused and hard working. Apply those criteria to the other drivers on the grid and see how many tick four boxes. Chances are the ones that do will be the most successful, because that’s the way it’s always been at the top level of F1.

This season has gone pretty much as expected. Coming off the back of last season, the signs were all there that the confidence which that unlikely title win in Abu Dhabi gave to both Vettel and the technical team at Red Bull, would mean that they would come flying out of the traps in 2011. The fast car they produced gave them pole position at every race, but winning the races has proved more difficult, as McLaren and Ferrari were able to challenge them at most places on race day, with a few exceptions. The rivals beat them six times, but it could easily have been more.

I don’t think he’ll match Schumacher’s seven titles, because he’s around at the same time as some formidable talents and the likelihood is that McLaren and Ferrari will get their act together soon and build a car which can fight for the title. When they do, both teams have the drivers to take on Vettel.

It may be next year, it may be 2013, but it will happen.

Some fans believe he would not beat Alonso or Hamilton if they were his team mate. Maybe, but it’s a moot point; we’ll never know because it makes no sense for a team to try an experiment like that when F1 history shows how counterproductive it is to employ two drivers with a voracious appetite to win.

In the meantime, it’s time for fans of every persuasion to set aside any partisan feelings and accept that this year Vettel has been superb. He’s hardly put a foot wrong all year; a few crashes in practice sessions, the spin on the last lap in Montreal.

But he’s also given us some great moments; several perfect laps in qualifying, the pass on Alonso in Monza among them.

F1 is about the best of the best, in every department, “competing to win”, as Senna used to put it. And few people have a real understanding of what it takes to win in F1.

While rivals have missed opportunities, missed a trick on car design or botched pit stops, the fact of the matter is that this year, Vettel and his Red Bull team have given a text book example of how it should be done.

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  1. CD_199 says:

    Out of all the articles I’ve read on your site, I’d have to rate this up there as one of the best. Seb is not the next Senna, Schumacher or Prost, he is the first and only Vettel. Drove throughout the season with maturity and kept his head in the game when it mattered. He may have had the best car and be in the best team but to finish first, first you have to finish and he did that and some which gives him the right to wave that finger in the air. So love him or hate him, 2011 will be always known to F1 as the year Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull showed everyone how it’s done!

    1. MartynB says:

      Good comment.

      I’ll always have Lewis as my favourite. Partly because of his nationality being mine too, but also his driving style.

      But you really have to praise Vettel. Some of the comments on his driving are true, but people forget that his illustrious predecessors were only getting started in their professional careers, while he has been winning championships. So he has time to work out the kinks in his style, and all evidence is that this is what’s happening.

      The time he gives to the media is something else too. I think he sees beyond the intrusion of a nosy reporter and a camera and understands that it’s a conduit to the fans. Most sports stars, let alone F1 drivers, could learn a hell of a lot from Seb’s media handling.

      We are blessed with some brilliant drivers on the grid at the moment. Best of all we have some really different personalities. Individuals.

      F1 isn’t really about the cars, if it was people wouldn’t really watch in the numbers they do. It’s at it most thrilling and exciting when it’s about the personalities.

      1. Speed F1 says:

        The category of legendary drivers in F1 is not consist of many drivers. In fact, no more than 5 drivers that are different league to any other. Fangio, Lauda, Senna, Schumacher & Alonso are the top 5 as far as history goes in my book. Vettel is certainly in that league now. He had nick name “new Schumacher” when he was a test driver for BMW. He certainly proved on track why it’s well deserved one. And i’m not even a Vettel fan! Many drivers were fortunate enough to have the best car on track but not every driver has been able to drive the car the way it should be driven. Vettel does it really well. Vettel doesn’t need to overtake too many cars to achieve his goal. His drives are calculated. That’s the maturity Schumacher showed in his best years at Ferrari. Just about everyone knows that Alonso is the most complete driver, but Vettel is certainly the most calculated one. Webber has the same car. Hence, they are two different animal. Hamilton is a great overtaker, but seriously immature with his attitude & approach, almost too arrogant. Button is great, smooth & equally boring. Overall, out of all the top drivers that are involved in recent years in F1, Vettel & Alonso are certainly the most Ferrari like drivers. I have no doubt in my mind that we will see Vettel in Ferrari one day. As much as I am not a fan of Vettel, it’s foolish to deny that nobody deserved the title more than Vettel. Great drivers are responsible for a boring season too. Vettel is not just in F1, also the strongest candidate to become a sporting legend like Michael Jordan, Lance Armstrong, Mohamed Ali, Maradona, Don Bradman & others.

      2. KRB says:

        You include Lauda, but not Prost?!?! Get your head on straight. Lauda benefitted greatly from cars with over 100 horsepower more than all other competitors!

        Where’s Jim Clark or Jackie Stewart? I wouldn’t include either Alonso or Vettel in that list (top 5 drivers ever) yet.

        And please, give me a break about Vettel ever being a sporting legend alongside the ones you mentioned (tho who is Don Bradman?). First off, even Schumacher is not in the same tier of sporting legend as those you mentioned. To be a sporting legend, you have to transcend your sport. Schuey, even with 7 titles, didn’t do that. Senna, with “only” three titles, did, but again even Senna doesn’t rank up there with the names mentioned. That’s partly b/c F1 doesn’t have the exposure that the sports the others competed in do.

        Even with Vettel dominating this season like no one has done since Schuey in 2004, more ink has been spilled writing about Hamilton than any other driver. Like it or not, Lewis is the main attraction in F1 at the moment, whether he is winning or not.

      3. MartynB says:

        Think you are sort of agreeing with my point then totally not getting it :)

        It’s this kind of criticism of the top drivers I don’t like.

        Lewis has had a bad season, no argument there. But he still has time and the talent to improve. I better not go on too much about him incase I come across biased.

        But I have to pull you up on your comment on Button.

        Boring? Did you watch Canada? Most overtakes of anyone this season. He’s been the most exciting driver this season!

        I could play forum tennis all day, why this driver is better than this one. But one thing is for certain, the standard of driving has been really high this year. So few errors from all the drivers.

        It’s a bit like the English media are with the national football team. They are world beaters one week or a poor amateurs the next.

        Pick the weakest driver on the grid and you still have a brilliant professional with heaps of skill. They’re not gods, but it’s a heck of a tough job. I think some people are too quick to criticise. Compare these drivers and they way they behave against a footballer (or an England rugby player at the moment) and even the worst looks like an angel.

        I wouldn’t put any of the current drivers up as legends yet (well maybe Schumacher, of whom I’m certainly no fan, but you cant deny what he’s done). This isn’t due to any lack of respect, far from it, there isn’t a driver on the grid I don’t have huge respect for.

        But we are going to have to wait till after this time to reflect back on who was the best. When we have all the facts, and a new generation has replaced them. Most of the top 3, are all still pretty young with time to learn from their mistakes and have plenty of battles.

        It’s too early to call any of them a legend yet, but they are all going the right way about it…

      4. Damian J says:

        What exactly is a “Ferrari-like” driver?

        Don’t you mean Ferrari having the most money of the lla the teams to spend on the best drivers?

      5. Simon Lord says:

        I don’t think you can omit Clark from any Top Five. I’d rate him above Lauda any day on the basis that he stood head and shoulders above his contemporaries.

      6. Alex W says:

        Lauda, and Alonso are not in the all time great category, Alonso or Vettel will be if either keeps up the way he is driving.

      7. wayne says:

        I am no longer convinced that Hamilton will make it into the category of legendary drivers. Even through all the mistakes this year I remained steadfast in my belief that he is exceptional. The first time in Hamilton’s entire racing career that I have really questioned this was in Japan. I have never seen Hamilton stuck for pace before – he was simply slow with no good reason. This is a new precedent and the lowest low in Hamilton’s F1 career for me. No controversial comment or mistake can compare to Lewis’ general lack of pace on Sunday. 1 race is nowhere near enough to write this incredibly talented driver off but Suzuka was the most disappointing performance I have ever seen from Lewis. Even if he has made mistakes or controversial moves, Lewis has always been incredibly fast, in Japan he was not.

    2. wayne says:

      2011 Is also the year where Vettel will have proved himself to many fans. Last year I really was not convinced at all. This year I am. Still want to see him fight in the second or third best car though…. Newey should also feature heavily in this glowing praise from JA. A car that is on pole in every race is the fastest car. Period.

      I’ve always suspected Vetell was one of your favourites James, it comes across gently in many articles as does, what I perceive to be, your general antipathy to Hamilton. But you know what, that’s fine – that makes you a human being and ensures that your website is not a dull lifeless thing like the official F1 site.

      1. wayne says:

        I share some of Andrew Benson’s sentiment when he say (in his BBC F1 blog): “While Vettel is clearly out of the top drawer, it remains the case that, until he goes up against another great in an equal car, his absolute potential is hard to judge.”

        I know that opinion infuriates everyone but I just can’t overlook it. It’s not bias, I used to detest Alonso and now have nothing but respect for him (and would back him to win over any other driver). I used to think JB was a bit of a nothing driver, even when he won the title, and I now see him for all his strengths. There is just something that niggles about Vetell’s ‘greatness’ and it’s nothing to do with arrogance or moves on the tarck either (otherwise how could I like Hamilton as much as I do).

      2. James Allen says:

        That’s fine but, its not the point because how often does a top driver go up against a top driver in the same car?

      3. Jimmi C says:

        The best drivers should be rewarded with the best cars. I don’t see why a talented driver needs to drag around some heap of scrap to be considered a brilliant driver?

      4. AndyK says:

        Hi again James. Do you still regard JB as being outside the echelon of top drivers??
        I really would put him in there. I know his outright qualifying laps are just a fraction behind “The 3″. But his racecraft is surely right up there. Maybe even ahead of the rest at this stage of his career

      5. Harrison says:

        Wayne, how could you not applaud to Vettel this year? What could he have done better so far? This is one of the best seasons driven of all time!? Yes, the car is great but he can’t do more then win.

        Hamilton has a bad year and very few of his fans admit that, only argument they have is that he would win as Vettel is. So what? Senna and Prost would win in Mansells car too in 1992. I don’t understand the argument. Hamilton is beaten to this date by Button in the same car and Alonso in slower car so I’m not sure he would win this year anyway. It’s really hard to applaud for that.

      6. Trent says:

        I don’t think a driver needs to be in the same car as a rival, but I do think the passage of time provides more context as to exactly how good that driver is.

        Vettel is clearly an awesome driver, I would stop short of calling him ‘legendary’ as someone has above. We need to see him in more championships against different combinations of drivers and cars to truly fill out the picture

      7. wayne says:

        Harrison, did you read what I posted? It does not sound like it. I said “2011 Is also the year where Vettel will have proved himself to many fans. Last year I really was not convinced at all. This year I am.”

      8. James Allen says:

        Don’t look for bias. I take everyone as I find them

      9. wayne says:

        I did not mention bias, James, and have never found your articles to express any such thing. I am talking about being human and indeed ‘taking people as you find them’ is part of a human reaction to people and events.

      10. Tealeaf says:

        You take everyone as you find them? So James can you please put your opinion across as who you think as the best in F1 right now then?! I know you love Hamilton for whatever reason and you use to be a Button fan before Lewis arrived, is it shocking to see Jenson now being a better all rounder than Hamilton? Vettel can win 10 titles and over 100 race wins in all different cars and some of these ‘fans’ wouldn’t recognise his greatness, but please can you just admit Vettel is the best driver on the grid right now closely followed by Alonso? And again I like to remind you Jenson Button is BEATING the overrated Lewis Hamilton in the SAME car, you think Vettel couldn’t do that to Hamilton? If you were honest with yourself you’d admit Seb is now much better than Lewis and slightly better than Alonso.

    3. FZR says:

      Nicely said James & CD. My fav driver is Alonso but I recognize that Vettel has just as much talent and thus do not begrudge him for his success. Sure he has a wonderful car but MW has exactly the same equipment.

      I get annoyed at those who question his skills or his joy in succeeding. Really pretty inoffensive waving a finger around when he is not pointing it in anyones face(yo M. Brundle chill man!).

      QUESTION JAMES or anyone so informed, what is with the carbon pieces that attach to the top of the visors on all helmets now?

      1. PhilipS says:

        @ FZR:

        The carbon strip on the top of the visor is to strengthen that area of the helmet and to help prevent the type of injury the Massa suffered when the spring hit his visor in Hungry.

      2. paul ck says:

        The zylon strip on the top of the visor is now mandatory, according to Ted Kravitz (speaking during free practice 1). The zylon strip is designed to prevent another Felipe Massa Hungaroring ’09 accident. There is a in-depth piece on the official F1 website: http://www.formula1.com/news/features/2011/3/11880.html

      3. Nick Hipkin says:

        The new visors are to be mandatory after the Fia research into Massa’s accident in Hungary a couple of years ago

      4. sebsronnie says:

        FZR,

        They’re now a mandatory safety measure to protect drivers against the kind of injury Massa suffered in Hungary in 2009. Apparently, that point (visor attachment) was one of the weakest spots on the helmet.

    4. Duke says:

      Nobody can take that WDC away from him.BUT,he will never win like Schumi as Vettel has only won from the front in a superior car that even all the money of Ferrari could not match.
      He may win another WDC,but Schumi is still racing (thank God)he is hungry and in the hunt.Once he has the right car and the right team around him,you will see another star on his helmet.It may not be next year but the year after.I don’t think Vettel as he is now,would beat Alonso in equal cars either.If Schumi is Vettels mentor then he is a lucky lad,as there is no finer and dedicated F1 racer than the great Schumacher.It is a privilege to see him racing again.Long live the King of F1.!

    5. Obez says:

      No question the ‘Vettel – Redbull’package was untouchable and without doubt deserved the Title this year, however I remain to be convinced that Vettel is as yet the complete driver like Alonso. He certainly has the speed (like Hamilton does) but I need to see him perform in adverse situations over a season before drawing a final conclusion. Can he scrap with the best of them in a proper dogfight and come out on top? Can he manhandle a poor performing car on to podium places consistently and challenge for the Championship? Can he (NOW) handle not having the best car / being top dog / etc across one or more seasons and still keep his head, his motivation, his leadership plus more and continue to deliver results for the team? Alonso has / can, Schumi has / can…….time will tell with Vettel

  2. Merlinghnd says:

    I must say I like Vettel, comes over very well and seems like a guy you would want to have a beer with ( although Webber is tops in that department!)

    All racing drivers are a work in progress, whether improving or declining. Vettel is definetly on the up and confidence breeds success. I think the best is to come.

    If it was all about the car it would be a Red Bull 1 and 2 all the way, it obviously is not.

    1. CraigD says:

      I second that. I like Vettel both for his talent and his demeanour (though I do wish others could challenge him more often)!

      Though we can all respect the top drivers for their talent, such as Alonso and Hamilton, one of the reason I like a driver over another is also due to their personality and attitude out of the car. The ‘beer test’ is probably quite a good one (if fan-boy sad)!

      For myself, the ones out of the grid that would pass the ‘beer test’ are, Button, Webber and Vettel, definitely. They’re the ones that seem to have the best banter!

      1. Merlinghnd says:

        James, a great competition prize would be a beer( or two…) with your favourite driver, as most are based in or near England, wouldn’t be too hard would it?? I would happily buy the first round ( something I don’t usually say!!)

  3. Brad says:

    Well said JA, very well said.

    1. Mark V says:

      Indeed, whatever few negatives can be said about him (time to retire that annoying finger Sebby), Vettel is a fully deserving champion. Super car or not, there is no denying he can race having beaten teammate Webber handily all year, and Webber is no slouch. Throughout the season Webber has shown he is a very fierce racer (eg; passing Alonso at Eau Rouge).

      I also think becoming the youngest WDC in history while the grid also has a record number of WDC’s racing is noteworthy.

      1. Mark V says:

        Oh, and just to add something that was also alluded to in JA’s title, I think many of us are still in shock about this kid and what he has done.

        It seems like it was just yesterday that Lewis was the most exciting rookie in history, beating his 2xWDC teammate in his first year, and battling for the title with Kimi and then Felipe for the big trophy.

        And then this kid comes along and practically makes all that history meaningless in just a couple seasons….

      2. herowassenna says:

        You may want to check the championship standings from 2007. Kimi won by a point from 2 drivers who were tied on points…

      3. Mark V says:

        That’s not what it said on the label of the beer I was drinking when I wrote that ;)

  4. Dan Orsino says:

    “fast, intelligent, focused and hard working”
    to be honest, there must be very few F1 drivers who do NOT tick these 4 boxes, and certainly LH, JB, FA do and they are SV’s only current rivals. Any of them could have been 2x champs if they were driving for Red B.
    Since we all agree that it is not simply down to the driver alone, therefore: Should the team principals come under a lot more scrutiny from James and his colleagues in the media? Have they got it much easier than the drivers?

    1. Joe says:

      I know you’re not specifically referring to tabloid journalism when you say that team principals should come under more scrutiny, but that’s the natural extension, and I personally would hate to see F1 become as sensationalist and knee-jerk as football, with a manager’s sack race. Part of a driver’s job role is PR, and they operate as a shield for the rest of the team – success and criticism lies with them in the public eye, allowing the rest of the team to do their jobs.

      Behind the scenes F1 is a fierecly competitive engineering industry, not a game with hangers on like football. I really wouldn’t want lowbrow media campaigns and meddling to get in the way of that, were I lucky enough to work there.

    2. Tim Parry says:

      You’re probably right but let’s face it – scrutinizing pudgy, balding white guys doesn’t sell papers or air time near as well as ‘the race car driver’, the guy with the flat stomach, perfect hair and teeth.

    3. SBN says:

      I think Seb is one of the most hard working driver there is. I have heard snippets of him staying with the mechanics late into the night, on the phone to Pirelli to try to understand the tyres better.

      It would be interesting to get the real story on his input into the development of the car.

    4. Harrison Vrbanjac says:

      Dan, what makes you think that Hamilton would win this year in Red Bull if he was team mated with Button, Alonso or Vettel?

      1. Dan Orsino says:

        H V,
        I think HAM has been unlucky this year. this can happen to the best of drivers now and then. I know that to an extent you make your own luck, and he has done that to stop the year being an absolute disaster, he has had good races, and even lately has managed some good though not outstanding finishes.
        Any of the topsters, incl VET, could suffer a spell like this. Question is, can he bounce back? If I was to give advice to LH I would say: stay fit, stay relaxed, forget the antics of Massa, you’re a champ and he’s not, next year is your year…..

    5. AlexNK says:

      JB, FA and MSC certainly are, but LH? Intelligent??? Focused and hard working??? Sorry mate, not this year. And Seb definitely worked his butt off this year, his qualifying performance has been nothing but spectacular. While the likes of LH just say they’ve had a couple of tenths in their pocket but never deliver, Seb, like Schummi in his prime, always finds those extra tenths exactly when he needs them, on track rather than in PR talks.

  5. **Paul** says:

    Vettel is an outstanding talent, something I’ve not seen in F1 probably since Schumacher rocked up at Spa.

    I think for those who pay closer attention to F1 it’s easy to explain some of the critisms against him. E.g. Overtaking, hard to do when you’ve no-one in front, or you excel in qually out performing your car. Additionally a lesser KERS boost and a car that’s not reknowned for top end speed also make that significantly tougher than say a McLaren or Ferrari car. Those are the kinds of things that most Vettel-bashers would never think of though. We saw with Lewis at Monza how incredibly tricky it is to pass when you don’t have a top speed advantage.

    As for the entitlement aspect, he’s driven a Torro Rosso and won a race in one. Who was the last person to win a race on merit in a car that wasn’t in the top 4? Answers on a postcard for that one.

    It’s the car I hear you cry! True the RBR was the fastest car at the start of the season, of that their is no doubt. Come Spain though, a track where downforce is king, why was Hamilton able to hunt him down? Then at Hungaroring, a track where downforce wins again, we saw the McLarens with a pace advantage? Now Suzuka, again a downforce track, McLaren on top of the pack. That to me says McLaren have the most downforce (along with the best KERS). So I’m left puzzled as to why McLaren haven’t won more races this season? JB & LH (when on track) have spent most of their time in front of one RBR this season, which would tally with their performances at certain tracks that give an overall performance indicator. The only difference between the two RBR cars is the driver, and that leads me to conclude that Vettel makes the difference.

    Truely outstanding drivers are a very very rare thing in F1. I think from the current grid that perhaps Alonso & Schumacher (for past performances) have now being joined by Vettel in that group now.

    1. james says:

      Great read Paul, very nice indeed.

    2. mohamed south africa says:

      kimi raikkonen spa 2009 to answer your question

      1. MartynB says:

        Sorry Mohamed, are you saying that the Ferrari in 2009 wasn’t a top 4 car?

        If Fizzi had won in the Force India (which he should have) then that might be on a par with the Toro Rosso win. But the reigning WC driving a Ferrari??

      2. mohamed south africa says:

        to be fair the ferrari was a pathetic car in 2009. And in 2008 the toro rosso was the same chassis as the red bulll but it had the ferrari engine which was way more powerful than the renault at the time. I think ferrari were cheating somehow to improve the speed of the engine. And while vettel win in 2008 was brilliant lets not forget that ferrari and mclaren found a way to mess up that qualifying and were towards the back of thee field. Having said this i think lewis would have won that race had it not stopped raining

      3. KRB says:

        Hmm, if you count this then you would also have to count Hamilton’s wins that year in Hungary and Singapore (which was after Spa). The fact is that both the Ferrari and McLaren, while both diabolically bad at the start of the year, had got their car to a competitive state (if not at every track, at some) by the midpoint of the year.

        Plus the Ferrari ended up 4th in the Constructor’s that year, which the OP had as a condition.

        Vettel’s win at Monza 2008 was impressive, but it was in the rain, which equalizes the cars. Toro Rosso had the right strategy that weekend, showcased by Bourdais qualifying 4th. He was unlucky in that he stalled, and was a lap down by the time he got going. It was one of those weekends where many factors (but mostly the rain) made it possible for an outsider team to win. But credit Vettel for capitalizing when that happened.

        Still, in terms of the entitlement argument that’s used against LH often, I think anyone and their brother would rather have had Vettel’s cars over Hamilton’s these past 5 seasons. SV’s had the best car under him for the past 2.5 seasons, and by some way in ’10 and ’11. LH had the best car in ’07 (but only just over the Ferrari), but was a rookie alongside a 2x DWC teammate. In ’08 the car was in the top 2, but definitely behind the Ferrari.

        If the McLaren or Ferrari is as dominant next year as the RB7 was this year, then Hamilton or Alonso will win the DWC respectively. Yes, Button is having a banner year this year, but I’d like to see how he fares in a back-and-forth championship fight, which we’ll hopefully have next season.

        These last few races will suffer a little bit for the missing tension that’s there when the DWC is still on the line, where one mistake (think Webber in Korea last year) can be fatal to your chances.

      4. mohamed south africa says:

        are we talking about a top 4 team or top 4 car?

      5. Spinodontosaurus says:

        The 2008 Mclaren and Ferrari were very close as far as I can see. The Ferrari engine hat year was phenominal, thats for sure. Likewise, the Mclaren had exelent mechanical grip, and was actually driveable in the wet.

        At two of the biggess downforce dependant tracks that year, Ferrari were quicker in Catalunya in all 3 sessions ran at low fuel (P1, Q1 and Q2, Q3 was done with race fuel onboard, so I excluded it, whilst the other practice sessions were done with high fuel for Mclaren and Ferrari and in Hungary they where quicker in only 2/5 of the sessions (again excluding Q3, were they were slower), not as clear cut as you might think.

      6. Speed F1 says:

        Google ‘Don Bradman’. Legend of a different sport. Yep maybe Lauda & Prost is arguable. I’m not 100% certain myself mainly because of the different Era. But Clark & Stewart are not certainly on the top 5 in my book, maybe yours.

    3. iceman says:

      “Who was the last person to win a race on merit in a car that wasn’t in the top 4?”

      Good trivia question :) drawing the line under the top 4 excludes Jenson’s ’06 win in the Honda.
      Turns out it was Kimi at Spa in 2004, McLaren were 5th in the WCC that year.

      1. James Allen says:

        Vettel, Toro Rosso, Monza 2008?

      2. iceman says:

        In his framing of the question I assumed that Paul meant who apart from Vettel.

      3. KRB says:

        I think iceman is saying before Vettel’s Monza 2008 win.

      4. Ben says:

        Looking back, I was going to say Johnny Herbert, Europe ’99 or Damon Hill, Spa ’98 but in both cases the teams finished in top 4 constructors.

        So, Panis in Monaco ’96 – I think not retiring out like all but 3(?) other drivers counts as winning on merit. Would have been interesing to see how his career would have devleoped had it not been for the crash in Canada the following year, he never seemed as fast after that.

      5. DK says:

        Fisichella in a Jordan – Brazil 2003 ….remember?

      6. Bunchies says:

        Raikkonen really was the class of that race though and should have won it.

      7. iceman says:

        That’s a good one, could be a candidate for the win with the lowliest car. Jordan were 9th in the constructors’ championship that year ahead of Minardi.

    4. kidVermin says:

      *** Paul ***

      McLaren and Ferrari botched Qualifying, starting well outside of the top 10. Some of us remember Monza 2008, I can even tell you where I was when I watched it. Had the rain persisted as anticipated then Lewis would have most probably have won that race from 15th on the grid… Take nothing away from Vettel’s first win But don’t make it out to look like something that it isn’t… His closest challenger was 2008 Kovalainen (This guys first win owes everything to a Ferrari engine failure). Take nothing away from 2007 Vettel – very impressive in that BMW Sauber.

      1. Uhm says:

        So you are saying Vettel in a slower car did a much better job than the ones in the faster cars, yet you still try to diminish it with buts and ifs?

        It was one of the most amazing wins ever in F1 history.

      2. **Paul** says:

        I might have to re-watch the race, I thought that both Ferraris finshed and I don’t recall Lewis being in the hunt for a victory that day?

      3. Nick Hipkin says:

        Lewis very nearly did win the race from 15th on the grid, the strategy and weather didnt quite align for him that but it was one of his best drives.

        Thats not to take anything away from Seb though, it was a great drive

      4. Spinodontosaurus says:

        I dont recall the details to well, but I belive if the rain had carried on (or stopped, one of those) he would have been in solid contention, but had to pit whilst close on the tail of Vettel and came out behind Massa.

    5. For sure says:

      Its nice to see some common sense here.
      “Who was the last person to win a race on merit in a car that wasn’t in the top 4? ”
      You have to say it’s not just who won but also how he won it.
      It’s not like he benefited from some chaos in the race, he put the car on pole and led the whole race in a very tricky conditions which is not as simple as it looked.

      The other thing is that Mclaren and Lewis in particular made RB look more dominant than they actually are. They were many races where Lewis had the car to win and he didn’t. And he admitted it.

      MS and Ferrari took the fight to Mclaren and Williams in 90s. You expect that sort of stuff from a driver of Lewis’ caliber.

      I think it is safe to assume that Mclaren had the car to win 4 out of 10 races.

    6. Speed F1 says:

      Very well written mate. By the way, I think Button (his 1st win in F1) was the last person to win (rain affected race) that was not on top 4. Robert Kubica also won in Canada few years back, not sure where BMW fitted into the championship. Anyway, Vettel also got pole position in Torro Rosso, also filled in for Kubica in canada & drove like a true entertainer. So, the argument about Vettel’s inability as a racing driver is just as illogical as “Schumacher didn’t have any good enough competition to win 7 titles”. Makes everyone else look like unworthy, which is neither true nor fair in both cases.

      1. Cliff says:

        Honda finished fourth in the 2006 WCC. Button started the Hungarian GP from 14th because he took a penalty following an engine change. Without the change he would have been fourth on the grid.

    7. dom says:

      Paul, agree – and in Malaysia Lewis was a tenth behind Vettel in qualie but tyres/tyre management let him down and Vettel was faultless. Look at the Mclaren driver’s inconsistencies – rarely are they racing together, one or other will have a good weekend – look at Piquet and Mansell for example – far more consistency.

    8. Jimmi C says:

      Totally agree. I’m glad someone else has pointed out that the RBR isn’t invincible as well. Webber is a quality driver but is often beaten by Mclaren and Ferrari. Vettel is clearly doing that little bit extra.

      1. PNWBrit says:

        Webber is probably the least quality driver of top three teams. (ok maybe not a 2011 Masa)

        Maybe even the top 4 teams.

      2. **Paul** says:

        I think you’re doing Mark a disservice here. He’s not Vettel, but having watched Marks entire F1 career I can hand on heart say that up until Vettel he always had the measure of his team-mates and was generally regarded very highly, there used to be constant talk of a Ferrari move for him. You don’t put a Williams Cosworth 2nd on the grid at Monaco with serious talent (keeping in mind how bad that car was!), and you’ll find plenty of examples of him putting in stunning performances pre-Vettel.

    9. krieng says:

      Jenson Button win in Honda at Hungary 2006.

    10. JC says:

      Paul, very good and valid points. Clearly overachieving with brilliant driving and superb race strategy. Vettel/RBR could or should have lost quite a few more but they pull it through. However I’d like to see Lewis back with the maturity of his second season (or his first season too)

    11. sebsronnie says:

      So you weren’t impressed by Hamilton in his debut year when he was racking up podiums as a rookie in the first few races?

      1. **Paul** says:

        Yes, that was impressive, probably akin to Jacques Villeneuve’s debut season. It’s no co-incidence that Lewis and Jacques hold the record for debut wins, they both came into F1 in the best car on the grid, something very rarely seen in F1.

        Hamiltons first season achievments vs Alonso are hard to quantify for me. Lewis came into an F1 team he knew well, and was racing on a number of tracks he knew from his GP2 days (so not all the tracks were a learning curve), he was also somewhat primed for the entire experience. He was probably the most prepared Rookie ever to enter F1 and it showed. That said he was still a Rookie.

        Fernando knew the tracks and knew F1, but I don’t think he expected the team principal to be against him from the early part of the European season. In that kind of situation you’ll see performances drop off hugely. Although it’s not common in F1, look at Carlos Tevez at Man City. I would perhaps argue that this lack of support is what we’ve seen hamper Lewis to some degree also.

        I’ll leave it at that, as my initial post is about Vettel, not Lewis/Jenson/Alonso etc.

  6. Ashish Sharma says:

    A nice article, especially given that Vettel does seem to get a lot of negative press. I have been impressed by his maturity this season and he has but in amazing drives, and a season with one mistake in the German GP is surely to be applauded.
    The Red Bull team have admitted that the RB07 is less dominant than the RB06 and since we’ve done enough races for a comparision across tracks would like to hear your opinion on this…

    1. KRB says:

      The RB7 has taken every pole (there have only been a few tracks – Monaco and Suzuka – where there was a very real chance that they wouldn’t), and has only had 1 retirement, and that as a result of a collision, and not reliability. So how you can say the RB7 is not more dominant than the RB6 is beyond me (in both cases though, both cars were the dominant car thru the season).

      I’d put the RB7 up with the best cars ever, alongside the FW14B, MP4/4, Lotus 25, and the Ferrari 2000-04.

      I can think of a few more mistakes (the mistake in Canada costing him victory, and the one in Hungary costing him the lead), but when your worst result is a solitary 4th, you’re going to win the DWC more times than not.

      1. Jimmi C says:

        I wouldn’t put it anywhere near the league of some of those cars. For one thing, it hasn’t achieved as many 1-2 finishes. If the car is so stellar, why is Webber being beaten to the second step?

      2. Rob says:

        I’ve been reflecting on this for a while now and the Red Bull is the class of the field, but the tyres this year impact the ability to go 1-2, specifically the undercut that has been introduced by the Pirelli approach.

        Vettel is a Stellar driver and an awesome qualifier and makes the most of the package underneath him – no doubt. Webber has been shredding his tyres for the first half of the year and this has compromised his racing.

        More recently Webber’s begun to get on top of his tyre wear issues but Vettel in the races he has the first call for the pit stops as he is leading so Ferrari and McLaren pit thier highest placed driver at the same time to cover him off, which then undercuts Webber who ends up behind them and so it continues.

        If you look at how many races the same team has finished 1-2 this year there are two races – Turkey (a DRS farce) and Spa and the team in both cases was Red Bull.

        I think Suzuka is an excellent example of the difficulty a team has to run 1-2 when the cars of the top three teams are running at the same pace and each team is prioritising their lead driver in terms of tyre stategy.

      3. Alex W says:

        RB7 is dominant in qualy coz of DRS, Vettel, and a few Mclaren stuff ups. Race pace is not as dominant as the RB6 no doubt…

        Shuie used to lap the field in his Fez, Fat Nige won everything in Williams, Senna and Prost could stop for an argument, push start, and still win the race for Mclaren, those were dominant cars.

      4. Liam says:

        Talking about dominating cars lets not forget the one and only Brawn Gp car. One season as a team one truly dominant car pretty impressive! (although admittedly not among the very greats)
        The Red bull has not been that dominant this seson, otherwise Webber would of done better,its not like hes drove poorly all season its just that Vettel has been absolutely top class!
        Would love to see Vettel and Button in one team for me they are probably the 2 most complete drivers in F1 currently (Alonso probably drawing with Button).

  7. I’m not a fan of any driver that has such dominance in a season even if it’s no fault of his own. Congratulations to him on his second title. Every fan is entitled to there view as are you James.
    Sebastian Vettel has taken a car that has been produced and made it finish every race in 4th or above and mostly 1st or 2nd. No mean feet in itself.
    I still have reservations about the car that there simply must be something in the design to allow him to clear 8 seconds in 3 laps when he is in front as no other car has been able to do so.
    It also comes down to the rest of the possible winners that have continuously taken points off of each other throughout the season and have been inconsistant. Unlike Vettel.
    I’m sure he will win more titles but I hope for F1′s sake it’s not next year otherwise fans will feel another Schumacher dominance and start to turn off.

    Your going to have your work cut out on this years James Allen F1 season review book, at least Jenson has given some stirling efforts to add diversion to Sebastians dominance.

    1. James Allen says:

      Working on it now! A lot has happened this year..

    2. Tim Parry says:

      I don’t think that the kind of performance from Vettel and RBR that raises the bar like it did is ‘bad’ for a sport. The gauntlet had been flung and I doubt McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes and all the others are going to curl up in a fetal ball.

    3. Cliff says:

      Surely its up the others to raise their game. As a McLaren Fan I have to go through the anguish of poor pre-season testing to be followed by an average car that turns out to be a race winner by the end of the season. Red Bull’s dominance is no difference to the past where Ferrari, Williams, Mclaren and Renault have all dominated and enjoyed years of success. As for Vettell, I fully expect him to add to his WDC’s and I hope he enjoys the one he won yesterday.

    4. Liam in Sydney says:

      I disagree with your comments Ricky. The reason Vettel was so dominant was because he made no mistakes, he had the best car, he remained more emotionally controlled than in prior years, he was able to extract the maximum performance out of what he had to work with (which was considerable). You are almost contradicting yourself as to why Seb was indeed/unquestionably the best this season. When a driver is out there doubling the points of the next best driver, surely there are no more obvious signs of dominance than this? You can only beat what is put in front of you, and Seb has done that in spades.

    5. I agree with you all in some ways.

      No doubt about it the young man has skills the likes that we all thought would not be repeated for some time when LH came along.

      As you say possibly only 1 real mistake all season when he was under pressure at Montreal and overshot the corner to lose the race to JB but he still got second, he didn’t spin/crash/give up, so for that I completly admire him.

      Doubling the points of his nearest rival is not a good thing. People turned off in droves when MS was destroying the field.

      Every fan has their favourite & their least, SV is neither for me so please don’t take any of my comments as slight against him.

      For me out of the top four McLaren need to win a WCC as it’s been a long while.
      Williams need a massive boost as they are my all time team.
      I’ve been watching it for 25+ years as an F1 fan and have loved both seasons that RBR have won the title because there have been other stand out moments especially Jenson this year.

      I’ve been a long time reading of the site but didn’t realise the debate went on so well with the comments, lots of replies and counter replies that are all respectful. Great work all and great work James.

  8. Stufish says:

    Vettel is a deserving Champion. Red Bull learned from their mistakes of 2010 and showed us how easy it could have been in 2010 if they hadn’t made them in the first place.

    His stock is rising but he does indeed have to prove himself as an all-rounder before he can be hailed as being in the same calibre as Alonso for example.

    It may be a little boring watching someone lead from the front but you cant argue with his ability in that car – especially when compared to his team mate.

    Definitely matured since last year and a few sweet overtakes this year too. Congratulations Seb.

    1. Sarvar D says:

      “His stock is rising but he does indeed have to prove himself as an all-rounder before he can be hailed as being in the same calibre as Alonso for example”

      At Alonso’s (30) age, definitely he will be.
      More probably by that time being not DWC)))

  9. MISTER says:

    No impressed by him.
    He did one great move in a season and everyone is talking about it. If he would’ve crashed in that move in Monza, everyone would’ve talked even move about his overtaking skills. I am glad he didn’t crashed, but I’m not so easily impressed like others just by one move.

    As long as Formula 1 is going to be 80% car and 20% driver -like it is now- and while having the best car for 2 years by a good margin, it will be difficult to rate him.

    I am convinced he is faster then MW, but in the same time, MW is not top driver. It is obvious that MW is strugguling with these Pirelli tyres.

    I am just hoping next year McLaren and Ferrari can up their game.

    1. Craig says:

      I agree.
      Sorry James but I still cant rate Vettel with the same fraternity as is mentioned. I think it is too soon and the machinery is causing an imbalance with regard to driver/car. I can assure you it is not sour grapes and I really hope I’m proved wrong as he’s a good guy but I just don’t see it in his driving.
      It is one thing being able to sprint off from the start in an amazing car and another being a complete racing driver. I think you eluded to this in your piece, “several perfect laps in qualifying and 1 pass on Alonso in Monza”. To me that confirms the representation of how sparse Vettels season is with regard to racing.
      Really fair play and very well done to Vettel and Red Bull for a Championship winning season.

      But, throw Alonso or Hamilton in to that Red Bull and we would see a car on track a second faster. I am convinced on that and hand on heart, you or anyone who wouldn’t agree with that statement.

      1. KRB says:

        A second faster?!?! I believe as you do that LH or FA would be faster in the same car, but let’s be real here. A second faster? No chance. That just doesn’t happen in modern F1. I think Vettel has the speed, but I think when there’s someone at least as fast as him, that he’s not beaten them back.

        I’ll come back to Hamilton’s win in Germany … any one of Hamilton, Alonso or Webber could’ve won that day, the cars were that close together in that race. But Hamilton drove the wheels off his car to beat the other two back, first retaking the lead in a great battle with Webber along the start/finish straight, and then overtaking Alonso around the outside of turn 2 after Alonso had jumped in in the pits. After that race, no one could say it was a cruise for Hamilton … it was an extremely hard fought win, to my mind the most deserved victory of the whole season.

      2. iceman says:

        A second faster does seem implausible. If I recall correctly, Alonso brings six tenths ;)

      3. AJ says:

        Yes, Fernando does bring six-tenths to a team ;)

      4. AlexNK says:

        No sour grapes, really? And yet, LH and FA would be a SECOND faster in the same car? And, I guess, JB would be even faster, since he’s much faster than LH nowadays? Is there any basis for this at all? Doesn’t seem likely, since there were tracks this year that didn’t suit RB as well as their rivals, yet mighty FA or LH never converted their advantage into poles. No, as far as the raw speed is concerned, Seb is more than a match for those two, and his racecraft has improved immensely over the last year, while FA still relies on his teammate to move over for him and LH is on a fast track into the Montoya territory. All in all, there is no driver in modern F1 who could claim supremacy over SV in terms of raw speed. And a full second – definitely not those two, even on their good day.

      5. Craig says:

        There is no basis at all. Similar to your post. Its based on opinion.
        I refer to my comment “Really fair play and very well done to Vettel and Red Bull for a Championship winning season”.

        I note your statement “All in all, there is no driver in modern F1 who could claim supremacy over SV in terms of raw speed”.

        I will refrain from including numerous wrongly interjected !!?? from my comment.

    2. J says:

      Hamilton should also have been a double World Champion; Alonso a triple World Champion (or quadruple?). But it is all a moot point – for example Mansell should have won more than just one WDC.

      Until we see Vettel outperform his car regularly I can’t say he is the best driver on the grid. Alonso’s 2nd place in Suzuka was mesmerizing – and many of his wins were down to him making the difference.

      1. For sure says:

        We surely saw that in many races, including Monza.

      2. dom says:

        Vettel is brilliant consistanct and doesn’t seem to choke when the pressure is on. That’s the big difference – look at Hamilton’s form this year – up and down – look at 2007 when he lost the Championship – look at 2008 where he nearly lost the championship….

    3. Sandeep says:

      Uh,vettel does not have a racer’s instinct?do you people know how alonso won his world titles? Waiting for the car in front to have reliability problems..and yeah there was also the odd tantrum throwing by alonso? And there is a myth that alonso and hamilton “fight from the back” and win races.they haven’t..they can’t..

      1. Rodger says:

        I agree with the fighting from the back nonsense. Going back to 2007 when Lewis and Seb came on the scene, and to 2004 for Alonso I get the following results for poorest starting position for a win, podium, and top five finish.
        Alonso:
        Win- 6th (ignoring Singapore ’08)
        Podium- 16th
        Top 5- 11th to 4th

        Hamilton:
        Win- 4th
        Podium- 17th
        Top 5- 10th to 4th

        Vettel:
        Win- 3rd
        Podium- 8th
        Top 5- 19th to 5th

        Not a lot to choose between them on that criteria.

    4. KRB says:

      Great post. Why has Button’s stock risen so much this year? Because he’s beating Hamilton in the same car. As you say, we can only safely compare Vettel to his teammates, who let’s face it, are not in the top tier of drivers.

      As for 2007, I dare say we will NEVER again see a rookie beat a reigning 2x DWC over a season. Even make it a rookie going up against a former DWC … well, let’s qualify that by saying a DWC that’s 5 years or less removed from their DWC season. A rookie could beat a former DWC far removed from their prime I suppose.

      Not that there’s many instances in the past where a rookie has partnered a DWC, which just underlines even more the situation Hamilton stepped into and excelled at in 2007.

      1. Rick Chasey says:

        Everyone was saying that the new tyres would favour Button, and that seems to have played out.

        In hindsight, Hamilton’s style seems to fare pretty badly with the new conditions, so I think the difference between the two has been exaggerated.

      2. James Allen says:

        History shows us the best rise to the top whatever the rules of the day

      3. KRB says:

        Hmm, it has sometimes, but not all the time. It did yesterday in Suzuka, although Hamilton had the slow puncture as well that set him back.

        Tires have always been a factor in F1, although perhaps not as big as they’ve been in 2011. With the new tires, and with the engine rev limiter, F1 is not about “going as fast as possible w/o going off” as it was in the past, but the competitors have to adapt. I think Hamilton has to learn that it’s better to maybe run a lower engine mode and hang back in cleaner air when following, and then attack later, instead of spending 5-10 laps close behind a car trying to pass, in the process degrading his tires more than necessary.

        It could be that the RB7′s sweet spot with regards to the Pirelli’s was within the current 45:55 front-rear balance, while perhaps McLaren and Ferrari would excel if they were outside of that ratio. We’ll only find out if that’s the case next season, and even then there’s so many factors that change simultaneously in F1 that it’s hard to isolate each change and say “that gave us seven-tenths”, etc.

    5. Speed F1 says:

      Only the best drivers can get 100% out of a car. I’m a huge Alonso fan, but we can’t say that he would be faster than Vettel. McLaren had the better car in more than a few races this year, but Vettel delivered in qualifying & controlled it perfectly in the race. Hamilton spent the entire season complaining, bumping into other drivers & not getting the best out of the car in most races. Kimi & Filipe both had good cars in Ferrari, but didn’t give the car the results it deserved enough. So, 80% car & 20% driver theory maybe relevant for some drivers, but surely not for a consistent & calculated driver like Vettel. It’s not just one pass, it’s the passion, determination, consistency, work ethic, 110% effort in every lap & bravery that made him wdc. Vettel & the current Red Bull car complete each other.

    6. F1Fan4Life says:

      I completely agree with MISTER. His pass in Monza was against a car which has serious trouble getting heat back into its tires? How is this such a legendary pass? I’ve been following F1 long enough to know that part of the business is touting moves in a lackluster season, and in my opinion this is a lackluster season. All credit to Red Bull for putting together an outstanding package, but can anyone truly say Alonso or possibly Hamilton in a Red Bull wouldn’t have wrapped it up also? I’m certain Alonso in a Red Bull last year and this year would have taken the WDC.

      What has his age got to do with it? It is the nature of evolution, every sport has got someone younger coming in because now people start in sport significantly sooner. Big deal. Every sport. So why is this breaking news in F1? Does Muhammad Ali get a downgrade because someone younger wins a championship? Schumacher and Alonso, unlike most of the other leaders in F1 now, had to do things the hard way, Alonso certainly at Minardi. These two were not picked up by a big team and given seats in sister cars. So if you ask me which I respect more? Its the ones that had to do it the harder way, and sacrifice a few years doing so.

      1. AJ says:

        Talking about overtakes, do you recall Raikkonen’s final lap overtake on Fisichella at Suzuka 2005? Now THAT is overtaking

  10. Simon Donald says:

    I am not a fan of Vettel’s as a Brit I have always supported British drivers and teams. However, it is plain for all to see that Vettel is an exceptionally talented driver. He came from behind last season after mistakes of his own making and his teams to win the title and this year has been absolutely dominant. He has done what every driver should aim to do and that is make to most of the equipment given to him and to beat his team-mate. Yes, the Red Bull has been the best car this year, but does Mark Webber’s record look anywhere near as good as Vettel’s. He has been consistent, he has made few mistakes and has not courted controversy IMHO at any point this year. And yes, he hasn’t made many spectacular overtakes this year, but has he needed to? I would argue no. He has been in front so much he hasnt needed to. Then when he needed to at Monza, he proved to be more than up to the job. Had you put Hamilton, Alonso or Button in the Red Bull would they have been his equal – probably. Would they have outperformed him – probably not.

    In my eyes Vettel is a worthy WDC. As a fan of Jenson Button’s from his days in British F3, I just hope that next year McLaren can make a car next year to challenge him out of the box!

  11. Paul H says:

    A great article, I wish all journalists and media personnel could talk in such glowing terms without resorting to sycophantic hype.

    Vettel is a deserving champion, he drove flawlessly all year and made the most of all the tools at his disposal. Having the fastest car is one thing, but you still need a good driver to make the most of it. He has a way to go to be classed alongside Senna, Fangio, Prost etc, but there is plenty of time for that. I still have doubts about his racecraft but in fairness he is still learning his trade, something we forget with his meteoric rise. Given he has been at the front for pretty much the entire season it’s hard for him to prove me wrong and although he has made some ballsy moves it’ll take more consistent moves in a less dominant car to satisfy that question mark.

    Anybody questioning whether he is a worthy champion, who would you say should be instead? Simple fact is the partnership of RedBull and Vettel was too good this season and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see more of the same next year. Here’s hoping that McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes pull their acts together provide real competition all season long next year. Not that i’ll see it at this rate!

  12. Matt W says:

    In a way Mclaren and Ferrari have denied us a true spectacle of seeing just how good Vettel really was this year. From what we have seen, he has been sublime but it would have been better to have seen how he handled the pressure of a year long battle (as you say James he was an unlikely winner last year). As it is, Alonso is still the one I would consider the most complete (despite his unsporting traits) as he proved his metal in an intense and bitter battle in 2006.

    Not to take away the achievement for Seb though, he was undoubtedly the best performer this year.

  13. james says:

    Agree with the above post. I am a huge Webber fan but this has to be James’ article of the year and it’s about time Vettel started getting the respect he deserves. Thanks James for conveying the real story without the normal press BS associated with the F1 soap opera. The more we see and hear from Vettel the more it is obvious that he is brilliant and a good guy.

    1. Mr Squiggle says:

      I’m with you on this James.

      Giving the right credit to Vettel is consistent with the traditions and ethics of the sport.

      There are always side issues and controversies to work through in any year. 2011 has had its fair share of these. After all questions have been thrashed out and analysed, the simple fact is that Vettel in a RedBull is champion with four races still to run.

      He is a worthy champion and his championship is very much in tune with the way F1 is in 2011.

      There will be other opportunities to talk about his race craft

  14. ryan says:

    I may be an Aussie and a staunch Webber supporter, but I couldn’t agree more JA! Congratulations to Seb on a stunning season in 2011. I can hardly wait for the 2012 season to get underway!

  15. john g says:

    Vettel totally deserves his 2nd WDC. The arguement that he can’t overtake is nonsense – he’s quick enough not to have to, and when he does have to, through pitstops etc, he has shown he can. As for the car, Webber has the same machinery and has not won a race this year. The fact is that no-one has matched him for consistency and speed.

    Vettel is a massively intelligent and fast driver, but as impressive as his skills on track, is how grounded and likeable he is off track. He always has time for the media, is always laughing and joking around, and is completely genuine in how he acts. And I think anyone who saw his interview with Lee McKenzie following the race in Japan on the F1 forum, will really struggle to disagree.

    1. KRB says:

      I’m not sure Webber has been given an “equal chance” this year. It is clear that RBR treat Vettel as their #1. They told Mark to hold position yesterday again. Vettel clearly took to the Pirelli’s like a duck to water, and so made it easy for RBR to treat him as #1 this year, but it’s something else to say that Webber’s been given every chance Vettel has, at least after the first flyaway races of the season.

      1. john g says:

        I would tend to agree with you, Webber is not exactly favoured within the team, especially by people like Helmut Marko, who I feel introduces a lot of bias into red bull. We’ll never know for sure had Mark been ahead of Vettel in the early / mid stages of the season, if Vettel would have been given the same ‘hold position’ messages, because he never really got himself there (for whatever reason). OK, Mark struggled with the tyres, but bearing that in mind, it makes sense for the team to back the guy who consistently gets the tyres and car to work so you can’t really blame RBR.

        I just feel that a lot of people are slating Vettel as perhaps being gifted the WDC down to an absurd car advantage – and I just think that’s a massive oversimplification and doesn’t really do the guy justice.

      2. Glenn says:

        True, Webber was told to hold position but so was Seb. It would hardly be fair to have Seb back off to ensure a guaranteed 3rd, only to have Webber round him up. I disagreed with the previous ‘hold position’ order that Webber was given (Silverstone?) but this one was fair. It was very important that Seb finished on the podium so he could do the post race unilateral interview. Having said that, expect more of the same this year if the situation is to recurr. I believe that RBR’s standing order is for Mark to push Seb’s car over the line if need be.
        Back on topic, congrats to Seb & RBR. I wasn’t convinced he was all that in 2010 but 2011 says it all. Starting at the front, leading from flag to flag might sound boring but it’s extremely efficient. I doubt it would be so boring if Lewis or Jenson were doing the same.

    2. john g says:

      This is the interview I was referring to – after Seb wins the WDC – such an intelligent and grounded (and funny!) guy.

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/9611358.stm

  16. Rachel says:

    Seb has been growing on me ever since he admitted a fondness for British humour.

    Can’t go wrong there.

  17. ardugpc says:

    Great Champ, those who don’t like, will never like him. He is talent at its best, just compare him to his team mate, and Webber is a good driver. Vettel just shows how to use 100% if not more of his car. He is there to take the opportunity, Satuday was classic example. It was clearly a McLaren front row Qualifying, and Vettel grabbed it from them when they yet again stumbled over their own feet to get it.

  18. goferet says:

    And now Fernando Alonso has challenged him to a contest to see who can be the youngest ever three times world champion
    ————————————————

    WHAT?!!! Hahaha this is the first am reading of this. First Hammy challenged Vettel to a round of golf or a drag race on the autobahn & now this! Just goes to show his rivals do not believe the hype

    But unfortunately for Alonso, he is going to lose this wager for Ferrari are no longer the prancing horse of old.

    As for Vettel, I too agree, there’s no way he can ever match Schumi’s stats for starters he’s way too nice & secondly what are the odds of the youngest double WDC also being the most successful driver EVER – That’s only in the movies

    Apart from most, I don’t subscribe to the notion that Vettel deserves this 2011 title for in my view, he had it way too easy, same thing Schumi in 2004 & 2002.

    A driver that deserves their title is one that has beaten equally fast cars like Hammy did in 2008 or Alonso in 2006/2005 & if that doesn’t exist, at least an equally fast teammate like Senna did in 1988.

    But as we know, Vettel hasn’t done none of that this year & the only races that Vettel has won on merit this year are Monza, Monaco, Spa & Barcelona as the rest were just the Red Bull car doing the talking.

    Since Vettel is still young, it’s true he can become the best in the future since F1 drivers mature in their late 20s- early 30s.

    But congratulations are still in order for it’s not every day that somebody wins two titles by the age of 24 though Vettel should hope & pray he has a quick car for the rest of his career for Silverstone, Canada, Hungary & Suzuka put a question mark on his achievements.

    NB:

    Thank goodness, we won’t see too many smiles from the Red Bull squad come 2012.

    1. David Goss says:

      “there’s no way he can ever match Schumi’s stats for starters he’s way too nice”

      He’s very affable where the media and fans are concerned, but he’s just as ruthless and demanding as Schumacher on the track and behind closed doors:

      1. The move on Button yesterday
      2. “If Mark wants help he should call the medical car”
      3. His confrontation with the Pirelli guy before Spa

    2. I don’t understand all the sniffiness about Vettel’s finger pointing. It’s his way of saying “I’m number one” and it’s not like he hasn’t earned it, each and every time he’s done it.

      F1 may change year by year but the fans never really do, especially in the age of the internet. It’s like a lot of fans are pathologically unable to give credit where it’s due. They’ll go to any length to make excuses as to why their own chosen one didn’t come out on top, whilst dreaming up increasingly spurious justifications to tear down the achievements of his rivals.

      The two groups most committed to their own brand of Flat Earth Society-thinking in 2011 have to be the “Jenson will never outperform Lewis” brigade and the “it’s the car, not Vettel” crowd. Well here’s a news flash: Mark Webber is no slouch, but he’s been comprehensively outdriven by Vettel this year in identical machinery. On top of that, Vettel has won at Monaco, Spa and Monza: circuits where his car advantage was either neutralised or didn’t exist and nothing short of searingly fast, totally committed driving would have secured victory.

      Keep on kidding yourselves, guys. If you aren’t prepared to acknowledge Vettel’s class by now, you never will and if you’re that partisan a fan and your views are so firmly entrenched, why maintain the pretense of debating the sport on the internet?

      1. Liam says:

        +1

        Excellent post. To say that Vettel doesn’t deserve his titles is colmpletely ridiculous.

  19. Klemens says:

    Concerning Vettel I wanted to share this. Great fun.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2jnf0fIEic

    BTW: Vettel is pronounced exactly like “Battle” only starting with a “F” like in “Fun”.

    1. German Pedant says:

      Sorry but you’re wrong.

      It’s pronounced exactly like “settle” but with an F. Fettle.

  20. Ahmed says:

    I know that it’s not right to think like this, but i cannot really feel comfortable with Vettel being at the top of the sport i love. To me he looks like a child and his mannerisms are not very manly either.

    I really don’t mean to be disrespectful – he has achieved much more than i ever will. It’s just difficult to be in awe of a racing driver’s talent if he looks like Justin Bieber.

    I was wondering if anyone else feels this.

    James, great article as always.

    1. David Goss says:

      Sigh.

      If you are in search of a more manly sport, may I suggest the macho love-in that is rugby? You can even beat your chest whilst watching it.

      1. Ahmed says:

        I beat my chest while watching F1. Only on the manly tracks though – no chest beating during the GP in Valencia.

    2. sumedh says:

      The thing I like about this commentis although it is anti-Vettel, it is an honest comment. You clearly state that your reason for dislking him are his finger, his mannerisms and other factors not related to his driving. It is an honest comment. You acknowledge his driving to be top-notch.

      I am tired of people being anti-Vettel claiming that he is winning only because he has the fastest car and claiming that he cannot overtake. If you don’t like Vettel atleast make fair excuses.

  21. Zombie-UrT-BR says:

    1) I’d *LOVE* to see Seb driving a Ferrari and Alonso a RBR.
    2) Things are a lot easier when your teammate (Mark), in a blink of an eye, mysteriously loose his driving skills.

    1. MISTER says:

      Very good point, but so far I thought it was that MW cannot get the new tyres work for him.

      I do not want to start conspiracies or create drama, but we all know how vocal was MW last year when he was not happy.
      He expressed his feelings. Nothing this year, even when he was asked not to overtake Vettel and keep the position. This happened twice this year.

      I just wonder..am I right when I say he can’t get the tyres to work or he signed the 2012 deal at the start of this year while agreeing not to compete with SV ?

      Maybe James can get a piece on MW and his very very poor performance this year. I thought this would’ve been done by now..

      1. Liam in Sydney says:

        Although I am an Aussie and like to see Mark do well, I also have not much against Seb. He has done brilliantly this year. If Mark was the unofficial (or should I say, publically unconfirmed) no.2 driver, he would have retired in a heart beat. I really see no ‘grey area’ on this – unquestionably Mark is not a no.2 driver and definitely would not stand for such an arrangement. He has just struggled to extract the maximum out of his car like Seb has been able to – to his serious detriment – amongst other things (i.e. starts, bad tyre wear, etc).

  22. . says:

    What I see is negativity from the English speaking media (shock…) and fans for beating their Hamiltons and Buttons.

    Sour grapes as you would say. The fact he is German sure don’t help either ;)

    Imagine, a German driver stealing the show of the British drivers….sounds familiar?

    I yet have to hear a proper argument against Vettel that cannot be used against any other champion.

    Won championships being in the best car overall that season? So did all other champions like Senna, Fangio, Prost, Stewart, Schumacher, Hakkinen, Hill, Alonso, Hamilton…your point, sirs? Or would you say they have not proven themselves too? Measure with the same standard.

    Can’t overtake? Watch Spa and Monza then get real. Also ironic this comes mainly from Lewis “I crash into people at every race” Hamilton fans :P

    Has to prove himself against a formidable teammate? Webber is a slouch? Since when? He was considered to be the next in line after Schumacher? And the way Hamilton has been driving in 2011, Vettel would have trashed him in the same car. And Alonso has never had a teammate that was formidable too before Hamilton? So Hamilton has not proven himself too then for teaming up with Alonso or Button (who also never had a formidable teammate that proved himself against other formidable teammates)? See how far the rabbit hole goes?

    He waves his finger? Yeah, that really shows his lack of racing talent! I like he keeps doing it knowing many people get annoyed by it. He delivers so he can wave his middle finger for all I care.

    He is the driver who maximizes his car, wins so much, earns so much and still stays humble and open. A perfect champion in every way, yet sour grapes get in the way of many to see what kind of F1 history is being written by this young man.

    1. Craig says:

      Whooooa, hold on sunshine. Negative media? I’m reading a piece which is the same piece you have replied to by James Allen that does nothing but praise Vettel. I don’t see the relevance of your comment with regard to Vettel German nationality.
      Vettel has deservedly won this Championship but we only need to refer to the point gap of Red Bull to note the advantage of the excellent Red Bull car. I would remind you that the Championship is over with numerous races to go. This can indicate a machinery advantage and not a fair and reasonable like for like with regard to the car/driver and other competitors.
      With regard to your comment concerning Webber:- “He was considered to be the next in line after Schumacher”? By whom exactly?
      Webber is not on par, end of discussion point.
      I will also remind you that Hamilton and Alonso accumulated same points in 2007.
      In 2005 Alonso won by 21 points. In 2006 Alonso won by 13 points. In 2007 Kimi won by 1 point. 2008 Lewis won by 1 point. 2009 Jenson by 11 pints.
      Vettel is currently 114 points clear with 4 races to go. Even taking in to consideration the new points rule.

      Does this tell you something about the car?

      1. , says:

        [mod]

        And you also proved my point with your ‘fastest car’ argument, so did Fangio and Prost and Senna etc. so they are not worthy champions too? Moot argument. 99% of the races and championships were won having the fastest car, it should not even be mentioned as criticism.

        He won with more points differecne than the ones you mentioned? Means he did a better job overall.

        And go read back the articles when Webber entered F1, he was seen as a competitor to Schumacher who would take him on and beat him.

        But again, your post proved exactly what I was talking about, thanks :P

      2. KRB says:

        It would be easy to find articles by some in the F1 press that claim so-and-so as the “next big thing”, even when they’re not. Any serious F1 journalist would not count Mark Webber in the top-tier of drivers.

        I guess you’re not a big fan of subtleties. Was Mansell the best driver in 1992, when all he had to do was floor the gas and the car basically drove itself? Did Senna lose all his driving ability in that same year? It’s a stupid argument to make. If Mansell hadn’t had all those previous seasons where hard luck had cost him the championship, and only had 1992 as a season to judge him, I think most people would say that the car won him the championship and that his driving prowess was still under question. Mansell’s DWC was like a good actor winning an Oscar for a so-so movie after being bizarrely passed over for stellar work earlier in their careers. You’re glad they won an award, but more for what they did before than for the year in question.

        When Senna won in 1988, of course McLaren had the fastest car. But there was fierce competition for the DWC between the McLaren drivers that year.

        For me, Vettel ranks alongside a Mika Hakkinen in terms of driving ability.

      3. herowassenna says:

        Funny, I have magazines going back to the 1980′s and Webber was never assumed or written about as being a competitor to Schumi. The only one ever mentioned was Hakkinen.

        Lets be completely frank, no driver has ever won the Championship without having one of the best cars on the grid. If the car is not in the top 3, the chances of putting together a season long challenge is unlikely.
        But, for a tactical error last year, Alonso would have been champion, but no-one would claim that the Ferrari was the best car.

        I’m going to mention 3 examples from the last 20 years which proves the best car hasn’t won the Driver’s championship.
        1991, Senna/ Mclaren beat the vastly superior Williams
        1995, Schumacher/ Benetton beat the much better Williams FW17. Bear in mind that Hill won the championship the following year, so no slouch.
        2005 Alonso/ Renault beat the vastly superior Mclaren team.
        Some seasons, like 2007 or 2008, the competition is so close it’s difficult to pick one car over the other, but what about 2009, the Red Bull developed into the best car overall, but Brawn and their double diffuser stole a march on Red Bull.

        I really like Vettel, ever since the Toro Rosso days, I love the fact he loves British humour, and he was seriously funny when on Top Gear with Clarkson.
        I feel sometimes people have issues because he’s in the best car and the way F1.com edits the driver/ team transmissions, its seems that MW is being pushed aside for Vettel. Or not allowed to overtake.
        I hear, as a Ferrari fan, the same argument against Alonso and Ferrari re: Massa “Alonso is quicker than you”

    2. KRB says:

      So many inaccuracies …

      Hamilton didn’t have the best car in 2008 … the Ferrari was the best car that year, that’s why Massa had a chance at the end. LH’s teammate finished 7th in the DWC standings in 2008!

      Prost won in 1986 w/o the best car. Only true champions can win a DWC w/o the best car. Senna in ’88 beat a 2x DWC teammate for his first DWC. There’s a big difference in those DWC’s over Vettel’s this year and last.

      Vettel made great moves in Monza and Spa, but then he was also stuck behind Massa in Germany forever, and only passed him in a pit stop battle. And then at Silverstone, he couldn’t get by Hamilton in a much slower car for 10 laps, having to bail out and pit early. It wasn’t even as if Hamilton was defending hard that day; Vettel just couldn’t get past.

      Who the hell said Webber was next in line after Schumacher?!?! You kill all credibility with such a statement. Webber is not a top-tier driver, sorry.

      Hamilton’s driving this year is as a result of being in a car not able to consistently compete for poles and wins. Put him in a car that can always compete for pole and for the win, and you wouldn’t see the desperate driving.

      I agree with you that Vettel is maximizing his results in the car that he’s driving, and at the end of the day, that’s all he can do.

      Vettel and RBR are on top of the world at the moment. Let’s see how we rate him when that’s not the case.

    3. Zombie-UrT-BR says:

      Let’s just BAN Adrian Newey from F1 and you will see how good Seb is. Even myself would win the WDC, driving a car that is (average) ONE SECOND FASTER than the others.

      1. Olivier says:

        … yes, but what about Webber? He is not a bad driver, is he?!

        If it were for Webber, we’d still have a thrilling Championship. But Vettel smashes them all, including his team mate. That, my friend is proving us that we are witnessing something exceptional.

      2. Rodger says:

        I hate comments like this. The skill level of the worst drivers at this level is so far beyond what a good amerature driver is capable of.

        I don’t care if you’re an experienced club driver, you could not win a WDC in the RB7. If you tried to drive it to it’s potential, the car would be wadded into a ball by the third corner. And if you drove it as best you could while keeping it on track, you’d be lapped by the HRT’s.

  23. Nik Wilson says:

    Vettel deserves full credit for winning 2011. Compared to his peers on the grid at the same time, he has done what was required.

    The sad aspect is that he is F1 champion in an era of DRS fabricated passing, over nannied marshalling and tracks dictated by money rather than giving a real challenge (and maybe risk) to the driver. If you are going to mention the likes of Senna, then make F1 cars as demanding to drive as that era. Otherwise all comparisons are just for the sake of numbers on a spreadsheet.

    However, fair play to Vettel for being the pick of 2011 and the Redbull being for the most part, by far the best car of 2011 also.

    1. James Allen says:

      To be clear, I’m not comparing him to Senna – that’s pointless

      1. herowassenna says:

        Isn’t that why James, most observers and fans of F1 don’t rate Schumacher on the same level as Senna.
        Despite having these amazing statistics against his record, he never truly raced against a competing team-mate, whereas Senna was afraid of no-body.

      2. AJ says:

        I think you make a valid point there. Have people forgotten that team orders are now legal? RBR used them at certain points to assist Sebastian. So that means Seb really hasn’t competed against Mark.
        Mark is no slouch; he won’t be a great, but he’s definitely in the CURRENT Top 6 (current, not all-time). I remember when he won his maiden GP; he beat Seb to pole by a couple of tenths, even though he was carrying more fuel and had tyres in a worser condition. He won that race despite serving a drive-thru.
        Sebastian is unbeatable in quali at Silverstone, but guess who got pole this year?

      3. Liam in Sydney says:

        Seb is not in the Senna league yet. Another 3 years of skills on display is needed. This experience will open up his range of skills for us to make a better comparison to these “greatest of the greats”. Especially if Seb is able to win races in a car that was not the best chassis that year.

  24. James Walton says:

    I like the idea of a mass poll as to which drivers – lets look at them all – tick all four boxes – fast, intelligent, focussed and hard-working. Could you arrange such a poll online? I think we should be allowed to have subtle variations, not just 1 or 0. For example, Lewis Hamilton seems to be focussed some of the time but not others, so on Focus I would give him 0.5. But your pollsters will tell you how to design a poll that will not give 12 results all the same – maybe we need to vote on scales 1-10, lets leave that to the pros to decide. Also, the result must not be visible until say 5000 fans have voted, so there is no possibility of feedback. And it must be about drivers, no car influence.

  25. Ravi says:

    Brilliant Article James! One of the best ever of this season.

    Why is it that when Vettel wins it is always the car while Hamilton wins it is always the driver?

    Also everyone talks about Hamilton being the new Senna. Ok, Senna was a great driver and IMO, I would rate Schumacher ahead of Senna for the simple fact that Senna has never build a team, he has always managed to be in the team which has the fastest car. Also Senna is no saint on the track!

    If Senna was so great he would have won his title with Toleman! All drivers winning title win it in great cars as it is a mix of both. If Alonso was so special he would have won titles with Renault after his exit from McLaren.

    Button before Brawn had one decent season with BAR. Apart from that he did nothing spectacular that Flavio kicked him out of Reanult and said he will be right & indeed he was right with Alonso winning 2 titles before Button with an amazing Brawn winning his 1st.

    Accept the facts, Vettel is a great talent and at his age is way better than the likes of the other great drivers. Time will tell if he will break Schumacher’s record but then as of now he is the best driver on the grid.

    1. herowassenna says:

      “he has always managed to be in the team which has the fastest car. Also Senna is no saint on the track!”

      Really???
      1984 Toleman
      1985 Lotus
      1986 Lotus
      1987 Lotus
      1991 Mclaren
      1992 Mclaren
      1993 Mclaren

      So, in 10 years of F1, he had the best car for 3 years.

      Senna was the rightful winner of the 1984 Monaco GP, it would have been a bigger sensation than Vettel’s Monza 2008 GP.
      I doubt you actually knows Senna’s history, but no saint on the track? I’m assuming Schumacher is the Archangel Gabriel.
      He drove into Hill in 1994, Villeneuve in 1997 and blatantly cheated in 2006 during the Monaco GP. Let’s not go into some of his highly questionable moves in races over the years

  26. captainj84 says:

    I am not a fan of Vettel at all but I will put that aside to say congratulations and credit where credit is due, a fine example of a young but maturing driver with a lot of determination and a team who seem to be completely on the ball and then some! Brilliant result for a team who up until a few seasons ago were not taken seriously (hrt lotus and virgin need to take heart from that). I hope that next season ferrari and mclaren and hopefully mercedes get their cars hooked up for start of the season so we have a more competitive exciting season. I hate to see Webber wasting away in 2nd driver purgatory at RB, I would rather see him move on to a midfield or further back team, became a no. 1 and helped them develop and push forward, his experience and drive would be invaluable to a smaller team. These are just my opinions but if webber did leave, then Ricciardo being Vettel’s understudy would be good to see. And let’s hope Hamilton finds his form soon and wins a race before end of the season as it would be a big confidence booster that he sorely needs.

  27. Nando says:

    Lets hope he races against a world-class team-mate, hard to rate him definitively until then.

    1. James Allen says:

      But how many top drivers get to do that?

      1. Mark Roberts says:

        True. Although Prost/Senna in modern times? Certainly watching the Senna doc again last night on DVD reminded me of that. Incredible.

      2. Sandeep says:

        True.. how many world class team mates alonso has had ? Only hamilton and that was a tie ..Hamilton has had alonso and button?Hmm we all know who is the better driver now at Mclaren..other fans ridiculing vettel’s achievement’s r just plain frustrated that vettel is probably better than their chosen driver..

      3. KRB says:

        Tied on points, Lewis ahead on countback. Alonso classified as 3rd in 2007 DWC, one point behind Kimi, which is the smallest gap between 1st and 3rd ever in an F1 season.

        As for Button v Hamilton, Button is ahead on points this year, but give every team principal the chance to pick either, and how many do you think would pick Button over Hamilton? Enough said.

      4. Speed F1 says:

        Stats are history in this sport. So, yes Seb better than the other chosen drivers.

      5. Anthony says:

        Well, Lewis Clearly. He’s had 2 world champions alongside him and beat them both (Alonso 2007 and Button 2010)

      6. dom says:

        But he didn’t bag a championship when he had the best car and an opportunity: at the last fence he either choked or the FIA ruled he had to throw it – I suspect the former – when Vettel had to deliver faultlessly last year, he did so.

      7. Liam says:

        But not Button so far in 2011. Just a reminder.

      8. Harrison says:

        Alain Prost had 4 world champions as teammate, Lauda, Senna, Mansell and Hill, yet he was 4 time world champion. Respect.

      9. dom says:

        Indeed, and don’t forget the 4 times Alain was runner up too…

      10. Nando says:

        Two out of the top five all-time have; Alonso and Senna. To be a great you either excel over a number of years, or beat an established great.
        Vettel could get there in time, if anything his dominance is too great as it leads to the impression that his car is totally dominant.

      11. bones says:

        In recent times:Hamilton,Alonso and Button.
        And before the dark era of no good drivers of 95-05 EVERY single champion at once during his career shared his team with a strong teammate or another champion.
        Also,there are more times of teams with 2 champions in the team winning everything than losing.

    2. For sure says:

      Why some fans really think that F1 is a pure driving contest? It’s never the case.
      Let’s put Batman and The Joker in the boxing ring.
      What about Lewis? He did compete with a world class driver and beat him. But that doesn’t mean he is the driver every team principle dying to recruit.

  28. Suresh says:

    James, its the same story every year. Is it the car or the driver ? It would be interesting if there could be an end of season race for the top 8 drivers with the same car, something like the Tennis year end championship. Which car could be decided by the FIA ? To be neutral maybe choose the last placed team car of that year and ask these drivers to drive a grand prix. That still would be a partial conclusion, but still would be a man to man, driver to driver contest of skills with the car superiority not playing a factor. A race for the fans perhaps !!! James ?

    1. Rudy says:

      Agree. But surely using HRT, Virgin or Lotus would result in several DNF’s. Maybe simulator runs or plug them to PS3.
      Whatever, congratulations to Vettel. Great season. Hope Ferrari and McLaren up their game, rules stability and really a big hope on not seeing the safety car again and again.

    2. Sandeep says:

      There is a race of champions at the end of the year.Most of the top drivers from different aspects of the racing world..guys like vettel ,schumacher,button have taken part..alonso and hamilton don’t..go figure

      1. Tim Parry says:

        Yep! And as I recollect, Vettel has done quite well in it, too.

    3. Sufyaan Patel says:

      Now that would be a great! Maybe a race where all drivers can compete in cars from a lower formula and equal in performance. Drivers may want more powerful engines though. We can only but dream of such a thing………

      1. KRB says:

        I come back to this again … 2005 F3 Euro series … LH and SV in the same chassis and with the same engine. Hamilton won 15 of the 20 races that year.

        The next year, Di Resta and Vettel in the same team, again same chassis and engine. Di Resta beats Vettel 5-4 in wins, and beats him to the title.

      2. Lewis says:

        No one thinks about Vettel’s age. Both Hamilton and Di Resta are older than him…

      3. Mebz says:

        I believe vettel is the fastest guy on the top gear track……

      4. Monktonnik says:

        Actually, this is his greatest achievement.

      5. Alex W says:

        He didn’t have to overtake :)

      6. Liam says:

        The race of champions basically does this and its a great under advertised spectacle!!
        Recent winners include Ekstrom,Loeb,Kovalinen,McRae (may he rest in peace).
        Team Germany usually dominate the Nations championship. (Vettel&Schumacher = domination)

  29. Richard says:

    Tyres aside, So much in F1 is about taking ones chances when they present themselves and Sebastion Vettel and Red Bull have certainly done that. It cannot be emphasised enough though just how much this is a team sport where everything must come together at the same time, and haven’t they done it all so well. I think it’s high time that everyone accepts that he is one of the small group of the very best drivers in F1 today. – If I had to highlight a couple of virtues it’s his consistency and the ability to put in a very fast qualifying lap. – So good luck to him!

  30. Estophile says:

    Think back to the middle part of the 2010 season.

    In Turkey, Vettel caused an accident with Webber and made the infamous ‘loony’ gesture.
    In Hungary, he was caught out by the safety car rules and, after finishing third in a race he should have won, he stood on the podium looking like a moody teenager.
    In Belgium, he crashed into Button and was labelled as ‘the Crash Kid’.

    But look at him since then. He has barely put a foot wrong. After Belgium 2010 he went off and did some serious thinking, about himself and his behaviour. And it worked. More than a few of his rivals need to look and learn.

    Perhaps he still needs to prove his mental toughness over the course of a season-long title battle. Perhaps he still needs to prove his ability at wheel-to-wheel racing. But F1 is also about dedication and application, and those qualities he has by the bucketful.

    In any sport, you play to the rules. If the rules are tweaked from one year to the next, you play to the new rules. You may or may not like F1 2011-style, with KERS, DRS, blown diffusers and tyre degradation (and stewarding), but those are the challenges that have faced the drivers and teams this year, and there is no doubt whatsoever that it has been Red Bull and Vettel who have best met them.

    He is a worthy world champion in 2011.

    1. KRB says:

      Great post. Agree 100% about his reaction after the low point of Spa 2010. He went on a tear, drove a smart race at Monza to get 4th and then could’ve won all the remaining 5 races (but still bagged 3 wins and one 2nd, with an unfortunate DNF in Korea).

    2. Joe says:

      Really well said. Regardless of whether other drivers are better, this year Red Bull and Vettel are the winning team for maximising their advantage, positioning themselves best within the new rules, running the best strategies and working damn hard at it. I just hope the other teams can follow that example for 2012…

  31. gond says:

    Congratulations Sebastian Vettel. I admire you.
    You are the youngest pole, race win, champion and double world champions of all times.
    Whatever they say, you are that. And that is BIG.
    I am and live (F1 speaking) for Fernando Alonso, the fact that you took all those records from him (yeah, and one from Lewis)makes you even greater in my eyes.
    You have demonstrated this year what excellence is. No mistakes, never getting hot headed. Strong of mind, focused, fast as hell.
    You are a truly phenomenal driver, and I cant wait for the 2012 battle to see who is the youngest 3 times world champion.
    And you know what? I know, deep in my heart, that regardless whether Fernando gets it first, you will take that record as well in due time.
    Enjoy the rest of YOUR season. Stuff of legends.

    1. Brad says:

      U made my heart melt…

      pity I could’nt car for Alonso though

  32. Fareed says:

    SPEED TV F1 coverage mentioned that at the start of the season, Pirelli made a standing offer to all F1 drivers to come visit their factory and headquarters to observe their production facilities and ask questions of their engineers etc. Only 1 driver felt this was a good opportunity that would be valuable use of his time and actually travelled to the factory:guess who? Vettel!

  33. Nilesh says:

    James,

    I am guessing that a lot of flak that Vettel gets comes from fans who have not followed Vettel since his pre-F1 days or even during his time at STR. Can we get an article from you on his previous achievements including his exemplary season in Formula BMW where he blew away the competition? I remember Schumacher saying in late 2006 that there is a certain Sebastian Vettel who will one day become world champion.

  34. Quercus says:

    Nobody has mentioned the biggest thing that Sebastian Vettel has had going for him since joining F1: luck. He got in the right team at the right time.

    Don’t get me wrong, he’s very good. But I think back to what was written about the young hopeful Jenson Button when he joined F1 — and then the years of struggling halfway down the field in a Honda.

    Any one of the top drivers — ALO, HAM, BUT, VET, and perhaps still MSC — driving the best car would collect the WDC trophy. That’s why luck now is such a big part of it.

    1. Sandeep says:

      button joined williams…decent team but he was not as good as ralf schumacher so replaced by montoya..he moved to renault only to be beaten by fisichella …button was lucky …he just didnt take his opportunity like hamilton and vettel

    2. Tim Parry says:

      Luck has always been a part of it. Every champion from Fangio to Vettel would probably tell you that right off.

  35. Blanchimont says:

    Great article.

    I am troubled by the criticism of Vettel. Without wanting to promote the competition, there is an article on Autosport Plus which has their take on Vettel’s top 10 moments of 2011. They include, for a start, a number of overtakes other than Monza, so let’s put that one to bed right now. Also included are the little bits and pieces like the visit to the Pirelli factory. That’s what catches the eye. It is a focus, intensity and attention to detail that only the very best have. There are others on the grid in that bracket – I am not saying he is in a league of his own (I’m not sure anyone is) – but his application this year has been exceptional. I struggle to question that in any way whatsoever.

    As an aside, I think the most under-valued skill in F1 from a fan’s perspective is team building. We don’t see it from a track perspective, and when it all works out we even don’t appreciate it because it often results in crushing victories (and the total domination of a team mate) without the drama of the underdog, but it’s such a skill. Schumacher’s honing of a team at Ferrari such that everything and everyone was working for him was actually a demonstration of single-minded brilliance. Instead, it was often portrayed as something to be criticised. “It’s not fair…” You can see the same happening with Vettel.

  36. For sure says:

    Well, it’s not that simple. Hamilton was testing BS tyres when Alonso was so used to Michelin. Testing and mileage played a huge role but still you gotta be very very talented to compete at that level.

  37. Rick Chasey says:

    Agreed with the article. What I think sets Vettel apart from other drivers is that he seems to be very adaptable, whether it is his driving style, his racing strategy, etc etc.

    He seems to have a great ability to get the most out of the car, regardless of what the car is offering – the same quality that I feel puts guys like Schumacher (in his pomp anyway) above and beyond the rest.

    I’d suggest Alonso’s performance this season again has been outstanding – the performance of a truly world class driver. He’s in the 3rd fastest car, and, (partly thanks to some McLaren mess ups) is still fighting for 2nd overall.

    I’d put those two above. Hamilton perhaps may have the pure speed, but he has not adapted as well to the new tyres, and has let it distract him from his driving. I understand there are many fans of his here so I’ll leave it at that.

    For me, Alonso is possibly the only driver who would have matched Vettel’s dominance in the Red Bull.

  38. Joe S says:

    Fantastic article, James. It’s really nice to see your thoughts on this season and Vettel as a whole, which I would agree with.

  39. Neil Jenney says:

    Great article James. I’m looking forward to the first year that Red Bull give Vettel a car that is off the pace. I’m not looking to judge him, I honestly just think that I’ll get more enjoyment from his talent in that situation. For example, in a similar way I may not be an Alonso fan, but I have huge respect and have immensely enjoyed watching him wring results from under performing Renault and Ferrari cars. Or how watching Schumacher striving for success in a Ferrari was much more fulfilling as a pure sporting spectacle than the utter dominance that followed.

  40. dom says:

    >>”He’s the perfect combination of fast, intelligent, focused and hard working.” Spot on James and I’d add resilient when things don’t go well for him which seems a little lacking in his rivals. I just hope we get an overlap between Seb and Alonso when Ferrari look for a replacement for Fernando. However, given that RB is effectively team Vettel now, that must give Seb a big advantage over the Mclaren drivers over the next couple of years so I’d suggest he won’t have to wait as long as Alonso for championship number 3 and disagree with your suggestion on titles: Seb can afford a couple of misses and still pickup the chase…..

  41. ColinZeal says:

    Nice article.

    My advice to enjoy F1 is like them all, and if you can’t decide like the one who’s coming up from behind!

    Can’t say I always agree with seb’s action, like the immediate reaction to the Turkey Incident but can’t deny his talent, determination, dedication and indeed personality. At least he has a sense of humour, not like Schumacher. Most people can disapprove (in theory at least) of Senna’s intentional collision with Prost but still love the man for his ability, speed and passion.

  42. AndyFov says:

    I’ve just found a Youtube clip of Seb doing some celebratory Suzuka donuts…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4TV_966Drs

    I think it warrants a 100 point penalty myself. ;)

    1. James b says:

      He has gone up in my estimation. Shame we didn’t see it live. Thanks for the link!

  43. Nick Hipkin says:

    Great article James,

    I always respected Seb but this year I have become a big fan nit because Im a “glory hunter” but you cant help but enjoy a rising who one day will attain legendary status.

    Its a bit like everyone praising Senna now after the movie when a lot of brits used to boo him at Silverstone.

    You have to appreciate talent whilst its happening and enjoy it for what it is. Everyone wants a close title battle but its up to Mclaren and Ferrari to provide that next year.

    Seb has grown so much since the end of last year for me is the most complete package on the grid, only Alonso compares however Seb edges for me on speed

  44. DK says:

    “Many F1 fans don’t like Vettel….”

    No wonder he has never (I think) gotten highest vote on the driver of the day so far despite winning WDC …..

  45. Alex says:

    Some people have said, ‘before he outperforms the car I won’t consider him as a top driver blah, blah…’ and
    Well, the BBC showed what an awesome driver he is and how good he is at extracting every last drop of performance from his car when they compared Button’s and Vettel’s qualifying laps. The Mclaren obviously had a fair bit of extra grip, the car was mighty in the fast corners, and Button delivered a very decent lap. But Vettel was using every bit of road on that lap. It was mega to watch. I don’t think anyone could go faster then Vettel that day. Webber, previously known as a 1lap specialist was also seven tenths off…

  46. Chins says:

    Congratz to Vettle!
    I would like to a few points about Hamilton, to me he is the most interesting driver on the grid and also a very talented one. Yes he has had a pretty bad season, remember he never got to drive a mediocre car where his mistakes would have been ignored. He has been in the spotlight from day one. He will definitely bounce back next year. Also his mistakes this season has not cost him the title since anyways Vettle would have won it this year.

    Vettle is very nice person outside of the car and hats off to him for not making any mistakes this season even though he had the best car under him. And please don’t say why didn’t Webber did not win when he has had the same car, it was a second graded car in the Redbull team.

    Can’t wait to see what Vettle does when the Mclarens and Ferrais have a better or equal car next season!

  47. JF says:

    I don’t really know why people say that Vettel did not pay his dues. He started in a Torro Rosso which was not a winning car before graduating to Red Bull proper which was not a winning car when he joined. Compare that to Lewis Hamilton who went straight to a top team capable of winning the championship.

    I don’t understand the bias here. And how can people critizise a 24 year old for celebrating wins. The guy is a kid making millions driving race cars. We are lucky its only his finger he is pointing in the air!

    1. Rodger says:

      While I agree that people not rating Vettel makes no sense. The Red Bull was a fast car by ’08 when Seb got there, as he was second in the WDC behind Button.

  48. Nick4 says:

    Very good comment. It’s hard to disagree even when one’s chosen driver is one of the other top 4. Let’s hope that Ferrari and McLaren can provide a car to compete evenly with Red Bull and thus produce another golden era to match the mid to late ’80s.

  49. Douglas says:

    Good article. Seeing as how he’ll probably keep winning, might you have a quite word in his ear and ask him to stop with the finger pointing? We know he’s number one, he doesn’t need to keep reminding us.
    It’s the second most annoying thing in F1 at present – the first being David Marshall Coulthard’s insistence on mis-pronouncing his name.

  50. Andras F. says:

    Probably it would be good to freeze these ‘who is
    the best’ discussions for like 10 years from now.
    Hope we will have James’s website then and more results to compare them.

  51. Brian says:

    Any comparison with Senna’s three titles falls way short in that Senna was unafraid to measure himself against the other best driver in the same car for two seasons – Alain Prost…I wonder how keen Vettel would really be on Hamilton in the sister car (we already know how keen Alonso was)?

    Fans want to see a titanic struggle a la Prost-Senna or Mansell-Piquet, for me this season has been a pretty one-sided whitewash – I like Vettel & he has been fantastic all season but 2011 will not live long in my memory simply because Seb had the best car but faced no real consistent challenge from the sister car – all the more bizarre as Webber was nip & tuck with him all season last year.

    Red Bull came into F1 as an antidote to the corporate ethos but we appear to have reached a point where they seem to be effectively running a no.1 and a no.2 driver in the mould of Ferrari which may win championships but what true value will a repeat of the Vettel title steamroller have in 2012 if he is not challenged from within? Either as an achievement or in terms of marketing value for the brand – they will have simply become yet another bland corporate F1 team…

    1. lol? says:

      Hamilton the best driver? Then what is Button? You know, the guy who is beating Hamilton in the same car?

      Hamilton in 2011 would be easy cake for Vettel in the same car. No contest. So instead of measuring other drivers to Hamilton, maybe you should measure Hamilton to other drivers who aren’t crashing into people half the races?

    2. For sure says:

      If you are into great vs great watch boxing man.
      This isn’t a sport for that sort of stuff like “Hey Lewis I am calling you out, I want you to come to Red Bull and let’s see how good you are”. It only happened that time but drivers know the reality. F1 landscape doesn’t shape that way, team principles decide who drive for their team. No team principal want to pair those guys for obvious reasons like money and fireworks.
      All these top guys accepted that and the only thing that matter to them is results, because that’s what count.

    3. Tim Parry says:

      What? Someone was comparing Vettel to Senna? Must have missed that one. Look, I love titanic one on one struggles as much as the next guy, but that doesn’t mean I have to turn my nose up at a performance that was head and shoulders above all others this year.

      And RBR didn’t get into Formula 1 to strike a blow against ‘The Man’, they got into Formula 1 to win races. That’s what they’re doing. you can’t blame them for that. You CAN blame McLaren and Ferrari (and yes, that includes the drivers too).

  52. Curro says:

    Very nicely put. Great article.

  53. ajay says:

    Congrats to Vettel he has been majestic this year. I am not sure how relevant the driver comparisons are, after all did not Paul di Resta beat him in the same car in the 2006 F3 euroseries?:-)

  54. John says:

    Hi James,
    Great article and as usual a great selection of comments.
    For what it is worth I am a Hamilton fan, however, I don’t see him through rose coloured specs. I was completely blown away with his first rookie season. The 2011 season has been one of unbridled frustration as a Hamilton fan (I’m sure Lewis feels this even more so!!). Who’s to say what the problem has been?? Management? Media? Arrogance?? (insert a number of factors of your choice).
    I’m not a fan of Seb as I share some of the doubts that other posters have mentioned but I don’t buy into this ‘deserving champion’ line. Whoever finishes with the most points is deemed to be WDC…simple as. Seb has been amazingly consistent and fast this season and as I’ve never met the chap I can’t really comment on his personality. He comes across as being fairly likeable in interviews but who am I to judge his character. He is a now a 2 times WDC and deserves equal respect as any other multi-title winning driver.
    I must add that my opinion of JB has risen enormously this season. I was one of the many who thought he’d be chewing on Lewis’s tail pipe smoke when he moved to McLaren…boy was I wrong! This season he has been a revelation.

  55. zombie says:

    There’s a key element we tend to be missing here : For the new generation of sportsmen especially in motorracing, it is easy to break records as they start very young and end pretty late. Vettel probably has another 15-16 years ahead of him, and it shouldn’t be impossible to imagine him winning 6 more titles.

    Ofcourse,apart from statistical comparison,Vettel and Schumacher are as different as chalk and cheese. Vettel has a school boyish charm and a nonchalant demeanor, Schumacher in his younger days was as stiff as a nail. Also, Schumacher player a pivotal role in team-building,discipline and big-brother role along with Todt and Brawn, which Vettel really need not worry about.

  56. Lexus says:

    It is very sad but I have to admit that it is unlikely that any other team will beat SV & RBR for years to come.

    First of all they have the best designer and no other designer in F1 can come close. Every qualifying we see the RB car do things the other cars can’t do. They don’t have to lift off in corners, they can go flat out while the other cars are losing time slowing down and speeding up. Their flexi wing, their grip, they are by far the best overall car. Top speed does not mean anything if you cannot go around corners, because F1 is not a drag race. This has been demonstrated on Top Gear with AMG cars time and time again.

    They have a clear 1st driver and 2nd driver structure. SV does not have to worry about his team mate whether the team mate is naturally slower or the team makes him slower, MW is the clear number 2 and not a challenger. That is less stress for number 1.

    The RBR team is probably the best out there. They do not make many mistakes anymore but then again they only have to really focus on one driver and not 2. As long as they look after number 1 they can give whatever is left to number 2. MW has had more problems with his car this year and I don’t think they moved resources from SV to MW to correct it.

    Additionally, SV knows how to get the best out of the car. It seems like he knows the car and the car knows him. He is driving a very fast car very fast. I do not rate SV over LH, FA, KR but he knows how to drive the car well but then a F1 car where you don’t have to lift off in some corners will be easier to drive than one where you have to slow down. An F1 car where you have more than enough grip is easier to drive than one that is on the limit and sliding around.

    However, I don’t see any team out there right now that is going to beat that combination.

    The only way they can start is to get new designers. The current designers out there cannot beat Newey and now that Newey has so much control over that team no one can touch him.

    We can all live in hope but at this rate and taking the last 2 seasons into account the combination of SV and RBR mean that we can see them winning the next 5 seasons if they want and I fear this for F1.

    I don’t even watch the races as I used to because to me a race is a race and a white wash a white wash (can’t find a better expression right now).

    Although I should not admit this I have had a few street races in my time (the good old days) and the nicest ones were the close ones not the one where I drove away or the other drove away but where it was on the edge and at the end both drivers have a lot of respect for each other.

    It is good to hope that other teams will come back stronger next year but to be honest it will not happen.

    I cant, however, get used to SV finger.

  57. herowassenna says:

    I’ve read too many articles to sincerely believe Alonso at Mclaren truly had the team supporting him.
    Ron Dennis’s favoured son was his team-mate and wasn’t it China where he admitted that the teams focus had been on beating Alonso?
    I honestly don’t doubt, Fernando vs Lewis would be a different outcome in a neutral team.

  58. mohamed south africa says:

    lets all get excited and compare him to the greats of the sport when he wins a title in a non adrian newey designed car.

  59. Shane says:

    While Alonso is my personal favorite, Vettel has been flawless this season and is absolutely deserving of this title and his place amongst the other double champions.

    I can’t wait until Ferrari and McLaren get back up to speed! They have both done a great job reclaiming some speed this season, but I want to see all 3 top teams racing for wins at the outset.

    Unfortunately I don’t see McLaren doing too well with both Button and Hamilton driving for them. Not that they aren’t both great drivers, but I think they will need a clear #1 driver to support in order to compete against RRB and Ferrari who clearly have a #1 driver. Otherwise they will be taking points from each other early in the season until they can clearly back one driver over the other.

  60. Rafael says:

    I have to say, this 2nd title win proved Sebastian Vettel is the real deal and is a worthy champion. Last year, he probably snuck in the win, but this year he did everything right. Yes, he has the quickest car, but still he made the most of it and made very little mistakes – somewhat like Schumacher in his dominant years.

    I think it will most likely be Seb to be the youngest triple world champion, as no matter how talented Fernando Alonso is I’m not so sure if Ferrari can meet him half way and provide him with the tools to compete, this coming from a Fernano fan.

    Achieving so much so young, Vettel could get bored fairly quickly down the road. Sooner or later he’ll want to look for a new challenge, either to keep himself interested or to prove something to the world (and himself): a new team to build from scratch or a more talented teammate to take on – similar to what Alonso, Schumacher and to some extent, Button did after they achieved their goals.

    1. Tim Parry says:

      I think Vettel’s 1st title was nothing to sneeze at. The 2010 campaign was a battle of attrition. McLaren, Ferrari, Webber, Alonso, Hamilton, Button – they all folded in the end. Vettel suffered through a lot of adversity (a good bit of it self-inflicted) and was the only one with the stamina to cross the finish line in style.

  61. JD says:

    The logic of not rating Vettel because he has the best car is based on factors that Vettel can’t control.

    Vettel is simply too young to have experienced what Alonso, Button, and others have. He is completing only his 5th season, two of which are championships. Due to his lack of non-success, he has never had to struggle.

    Great champions are not made, they first need to experience losing. Of the current F1 crop, fans didn’t rate Alonso until he failed to win championships with Ferrari. Fans didn’t rate Button until he reached his 2nd straight season of not winning the title with McLaren.

    Hamilton is not winning championships and as a result, he is building a foundation for his reputation. If he manages to simply win more races in a season than his teammate, he will again be considered the best in F1.

    Therefore, championships are not key to a driver’s reputation . Yes, at least one title is required. But the most important factor is to win a couple races in an inferior car.

    When Vettel drove “inferior” equipment, he still was the youngest ever points scorer, pole sitter, and race winner. However, he was just starting out, so this is largely ignored. Had Vettel recorded a pole and win in a Toro Rosso in, say 2013, then such an achievement would be lauded by fans.

    Fans want to see their champions struggle and then win races. This is how greatness is justified. Overcoming the odds is the gold standard for becoming a legend.

    1. iceman says:

      That greatness doesn’t arise simply from winning championships seems a rather paradoxical premise, but I think you’re absolutely right. It’ll be Vettel’s performances in future seasons, when he doesn’t have the best car, that determine how history sees the championships he’s already won.

  62. jmv says:

    I was a bit indifferent to Sebastian… respecting what he achieved of course but not captured by what everyone says: that he is a person with feet on the ground.

    Yesterday I saw a 26 min. docu in the airplane called “What Drives You, Sebastian Vettel”.

    I thought it was a well done, nothing slick or PR like… just showing Vettel how he is and how he is loved by the people around him.

    I thought it was great to see and I did become an instant “fan” of him! I think I am loving the kid.

    He has this “intellect” that Ron Dennis referred to when talking of Senna in “Senna”

  63. Stephen Singh says:

    I wouldn’t say Hamilton and Button have been counterproductive as team mates and I think they both have the same drive for victory that all the top drivers need to have.

  64. Tom in Adelaide says:

    Those bleating on about it being ‘just the car’ should be forced to watch an entire race through SV’s on-board camera. Maybe then they would gain more appreciation for exactly what it takes to win. Actually, come to think of it, that would be a very interesting experience.

    Alternatively, purchase an Xbox and the F12011 game then try to complete a full race distance. I guarantee you won’t be able to do it. Don’t forget to turn the heaters up to 50 degrees celsius and ask someone to tie a rope around your head and yank on it every time you go around a corner.

    Respect where it’s due people. S.V has been supreme.

    On a totally unrelated note – any updated on Robert Kubica? Would be amazing to see him drive a practice session in Brazil.

    1. James Allen says:

      He won’t drive in Brazil but may test something next month

  65. JohnBt says:

    Vettel was the youngest at 19 to score a single point with BMW. Many sung praises when he was the youngest to bag the win in a wet Monza race with an underrated Toro Rosso. Countless fans vouched Sebastian will be world champion one day.

    Welcome SEBASTIAN VETTEL, a well deserved champ.
    At 24 he’s the youngest tenth back to back double world champ. There’s no bearing to keep saying the ‘iffy’ thingy. A hearty congratulations to Vettel for his victories and records and wish him the best in years to come.

    What would be good if Ferrari, McLaren or even Williams close in on Red Bull next year, a repeat of 2010 will be most welcomed.

    Should Kimi come back which I certainly hope so, we’ll have six champions, wouldn’t that be wonderful!

    Just to recap from 2005 till 2011, has been really surprising years in F1. After the Schumi domination era, we don’t want another similar effect.

    2007 we experienced the Hamilton phenomenon, still remembered Lewis in the purples on his first practice session at Melbourne.

    2012 will be in our face in no time as the last race closes on 25 November.

  66. Gedi says:

    Much of the criticism Vettel get’s is unjustified. Unfairly & pathetically dubbed “crash kid” by Whitmarsh last year, I wonder if Martin has stopped to reflect on his own drivers performance this season. Just think of all the incidents that Hamilton has been involved in with Massa alone (!!!!) this year… Japan, Singapore (plus the Qualy spat), Silversone & Monaco (Hairpin & Tunnel) and that’s just off the top of my head. If Seb had been the one at fault for even half of that, he’d have been torn apart by the media.

  67. Ted the Mechanic says:

    Even though I’ve wanted someone (anyone! Webber, Alonso, Button, Hamilton – someone please bring it!) to take the fight to Vettel all year I have reached this point now where, despite the finger, despite the entitlement argument, despite the unlikeability factor, despite the car, despite the Team backing…
    I have formed a grudging respect for the (“kid” no more) man. I can no longer ignore his consistently exceptional qualifying performances (often with just one shot at it); his relatively mistake-free fast race laps; his focus and commitment; his professional approach to the task, the team and the media; his… maturity.
    I must admit I went through the same process with Michael Schumacher (waiting for DC to step up) and then thought “Why fight it?” Might as well just back the best and then I won’t be disappointed so often.
    I guess most of us understand the Vettel unlikeability factor, sometimes it’s just hard to get past these things.
    However, these days I just appreciate the whole crazy show and try not to have favourite teams or drivers.

    1. JohnBt says:

      ‘However, these days I just appreciate the whole crazy show and try not to have favourite teams or drivers.’

      I agree with you, I’m into that mode after all these years of having my favourites. It does upset one quite a bit tho.

      1. Ted the Mechanic says:

        However, after saying that, I do hope Mercedes build a strong car for next year because I would love to see Schumi fighting for wins once more.

  68. Methusalem says:

    15 races — 15 RB Poles. When was the last time |a single team had been so dominant? This should be a matter of concern to the Motorsport world

  69. Chris Orr says:

    Hes very good at what he does, but i’m not sold. Its when times are tough that brings out the best race drivers.
    And when the times were tough for Vettel, like Turkey 2010, I believe that we saw the worst of him.

    I would like to see him go wheel to wheel more often, as he hasnt really had to challenge and fight lap after lap, and overtaking every one for some of his wins. But maybe that is formula one of the modern era. He just seems to win pole position and lead from the front.

    I wish he has a more competitive team mate, i’d love to see him up against Alosno, Button or Hamilton or some future star who can really test him.

  70. Drama Queen says:

    It may not be the popular view but Vettel strikes me as arrogant. The only reason he is a two time champ is because RBR backs one driver fully and as has been said “a team cannot fully support two drivers”.
    He is not a class above any other driver on the grid.
    He just has Adrian Newey for Hardware & Helmut for favouritism.

    1. For sure says:

      If you don’t like Vettel, you don’t like people, as simple as that.
      He is as humble as you can expect from a very successful young man.

    2. Cmon now says:

      You picked your nickname properly :P

    3. Methusalem says:

      He is even promoted by Bernie and Charlie Whiting.

  71. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    James – any likelihood that RBR learnt from last years mistake by backing Seb early in the season at the cost of Webber? Have you got any insight as to why Mark’s performance has fallen off the cliff? He alluded to performance differences in the car in his last interview. Maybe Vettel gets the new parts?

    1. James Allen says:

      No. I think Vettel raised his level in 2011 and MW struggled on the Pirellis

      1. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

        Thanks for your insight. I think it has really puzzled Webber fans after his performance last year.

  72. Craig in Manila says:

    If there was an “Article of the Year” button, I’d be hitting it over and over again right now. Great stuff.

  73. Obez says:

    No question the ‘Vettel – Redbull’package was untouchable and without doubt deserved the Title this year, however I remain to be convinced that Vettel is as yet the complete driver like Alonso. He certainly has blinding speed (like Hamilton does) but I need to see him perform in adverse situations over a season before drawing a final conclusion. Can he scrap regularly with the best of them in a proper dogfight and come out on top or thereabouts? Can he manhandle a poor performing car on to podium places consistently and challenge for the Championship? Can he (NOW) handle not having the best car / being top dog / etc across one or more seasons and still keep his head, his motivation, his leadership plus more and continue to deliver results for the team? Alonso has / can, Schumi has…….time will tell with Vettel

    1. Cmon now says:

      None of the drivers you mentioned did all those things either. Including the legends of F1 like Fangio.

      So basically, you have a group of people who demand Vettel to walk over water, do things no other champion has done, before they will admit he is a bit more than average driver.

      It is pathetic and reeks of sour grapes.

      1. Obez says:

        Not at all my friend and if you cared to look at my article again you’d find I started off saying “No question the ‘Vettel – Redbull’package was untouchable and without doubt deserved the Title this year…..” He thrashed his team mate and has as I also said in my commen, ‘has blinding speed”. The man deserves his title period!

        However the point I was trying to make is that to be a complete driver, you need more than just blinding speed; take a look at Hamilton. He has incredible speed and in the right package, got pipped to the title in his 1st year and won it in his next one. Now, the world at the time was in complete awe of him, were comparing him to Schumi and were talking about long term dominance / breaking records etc etc……..sound familiar??

        Well what happened next? He met a few of the adverse conditions I mentioned above and has simply put, cracked!

        Alonso on the other hand retired Schumi at his zenith by doing a double on him and again the world applauded etc etc. 5 years on with all manners of adversity visited on him, the man has stood 7 feet tall and in the eyes of most is the most complete racing driver in F1 today. He lost the title last year at the last race (due to a dodgy team strategy call) whilst driving a car that was no where near the best car. He’s shown exceptional leadership and performance in another dog of a car (compared to the RBRs and Maclarens)…..I could go on.

        Vettel is a hugely and naturally gifted driver and has matured this year compared to last and may very well possess all the qualities above….All I’m saying is that we do not know but no doubt in my mind that at some point in the next couple or more years, we will find out, no doubt.

        Until then, congrats to Seba on a job well done

  74. Derek Lorimer says:

    Sebastian has won the championship in probably one of the most competitive eras in Formula One. He has had to beat Hamilton and Button at McLaren, Alonso at Ferrari and his own team mate Webber. All the above are great drivers and all have had fast cars.

    Ayrton Senna is the last champion to have had a similar level of competition when he beat Prost, Mansell and Piquet in the 1980s.

  75. Wild Man says:

    I thought the most interesting item in the article was the statistic that the youngest triple champion is Ayrton Senna at 31. This is older than I expected it to be & I started to think why this would be so.

    I think the reason is two-fold. Firstly, by the time most drivers get into a competitive car (after serving their apprenticeship), it will be the late twenties for them. Secondly, the competiveness of F1 also means that the dynamics of which team is on top is very fluid. While a team may be on top for a couple of seasons, the other teams breathing down their neck will eventually overcome their dominance.

    Look at Fernando Alonso. Two years on top & has now not won the title in 5 years. Michael Schumacher was able to string together 5 titles in a row, but this was an exception to the normal pattern. Most other periods of dominance seem to last only two season (Mikka Hakkinen @ McLaren, Williams in the early 90’s, Michael Schumacher @ Bennetton).

    What does this mean for Sebastian Vettel? One thing in his favour was getting a drive in the top team at exactly the right time when they were peaking in their superiority. Also, can Red Bull maintain the superiority for another season? History says they will have difficulty doing it. McLaren are already lapping at their heels & Ferrari are not that far behind. Mercedes are also likely to take a step improvement next season. Should make for an interesting year.

  76. Emile says:

    James, you may need to start writing a book……

    1. James Allen says:

      LOL!! Thanks for that

  77. Andy C says:

    I have to admit, I’m a JB and McLaren fan predominantly, so I’m not biased towards Seb in any way.

    I do however believe that even in a good car, you dont dominate like Seb has this year without being a top drawer driver.

    I am one of the many that doesnt like his finger waving, or the crazy frog, but he comes across to me as a very well grounded young man.

    That chop on JB at the weekend wasnt great, but lets just remember he doesnt make a habit out of it does he. His other incidents were two mistakes against webber and jb last year.

    What I really dislike is when people are completely unable to see past their driver and team. I want McLaren to win every race, but if they dont I like to see good driving and great racing.

    F1 seems to be reflecting modern day society in many ways, in that there appears to be no middle ground. You can either fanatically like or dislike something without being able to take a balanced view.

    Yes Seb has the best car, but so did Fernando at Renault, so did Lewis at McLaren, so did Jenson at Brawn for most of that season. And so did greats like Mansell, Prost, Senna in a lot of their wins.

    Great drivers very rarely win without a good car underneath them. A good car is part of the sport, and its why I like this sport more than any other. The technical aspect is intriguing as is the strategy etc.

    Just an opinion.

  78. Meathead says:

    Its far too early to tell just how good he is.

    I like the guy a lot. I think hes got bundles of talent, but the great drivers of the past have all had to have periods of adversity (where say they werent in the fastest car) that they had to overcome. Its these periods that make them great.

    Its the reason that Schumacher is not held up to the same standard as the great drivers of the past. He never had a period of adversity. He won titles at Benetton with launch control in his car and titles at Ferrari when that car was streets ahead of anything else.

    Vettel clearly is talented. He has all the tools in his arsenal to be one of the sports greats, but for me, until hes had a period where everything wasnt going his was, we wont truly know just how good he is.

    1. Obez says:

      Absolutely couldnt have said it any better.

      Alonso is a case in point…..retired Schumi at his zenith by doing a double on him and the world applauded etc etc. 5 years on with all manners of adversity visited on him, the man has stood 7 feet tall and in the eyes of most (including mine), is the most complete racing driver in F1 today. He lost the title last year at the last race (due to a dodgy team strategy call) whilst driving a car that was no where near the best car. He’s shown exceptional leadership and performance this year in another ‘dog of a car’ (compared to the RBRs and Maclarens) and has delivered results in spite of the car. He is a team leader.

      Hamilton on the other hand is possibly the most naturally gifted driver of his generation but since winning his title and meeting all manners of adversity and challenges (aka Jenson!), he’s cracked…….

      Seba may very well deliver in difficult circumstances but we simply don’t know that…….time though will tell

    2. David A says:

      Schumacher’s early years at Ferrari were times of adversity. Did you not pay attention during 1996-1999? He even took pole on his first race back from a broken leg!

  79. Alex says:

    James,

    A refreshing look at Vettel, I had completely forgotten he is only 24, what an amazing achievement.

    Additionally refreshing I saw a video today of him doing a donut on the edge of turn 2 celebrating his title, when will F1 take itself less seriously and allow the drivers to do such things? It gave me a massive smile to see a little bit more of driver character coming through. More of this please Bernie.

    Congrats to Seb, but that was your last for a while I think.

  80. seifenkistler says:

    All who are disliking Vettel’s victory finger: would you dislike 2 fingers in a V-shape too?

    The german word for Victory is written with a S for Sieg. The index finger of Vettel’s right hand was broken in 2007 and never really healed. So it is bended like an S.

    Okay, Vettel said he did the finger-sign once after a victory as a young boy (way younger than now) and was asked at other victories by reporters to do it again. I would have liked if he said it is a german Sieg-Finger. There are a few pictures when he is not wearing gloves and you see the broken finger in a S-shape.

    Even Button was winning last race, i saw no comments that Vettel’s new front wing was just arriving 21 minutes before qualifying and that he had to do setup and testing in qualifying. So closing the gap of one second from testing compared to Button in just Q1 and Q2 means that he has either high technical and aerodynamical knowledge to do quick setup changes with his team, or he is able to give clear responses so his team knows what to do, or both.
    Much what Schumacher shined in. Noticed that after Heidfeld left, Renault is not competive any longer, no driver who gives good feedback of setup errors?

    So i think one totally underestimated feature of Vettel seems to be that he is good in giving feedback.

    Sorry if my english is close to non existant, i always slept at english lessons at school.

    1. Dave Aston says:

      Your spelling is better than most of the English speakers who post on this site. The most popular mistakes seem to be when spelling definitely (usually ‘definately’ or ‘definatley’), lose (‘loose’) and, oddly for an F1-related page, Vettel (‘Vettle’).

  81. Koby fan says:

    To be a back-to-back WDC on Bridgestone then Pirelli is no mean feat. His overtaking is still not instinctive but suspect it will get better (alonso’s skill makes a drivers overtake on him look much better than it really is e.g. vettel, webber, koby, etc.).

    Vettel may not surpass Schumi’s record 7 WDC titles but he will eventually overtake his record for # of pole positions.

    Mercedes will need to break the RRA budget to get him on their books.

  82. A-P says:

    James, you wrote:

    “Whatever the hype, the hyperbole or the criticisms swirling around this morning, the fact of the matter is that Sebastian Vettel is now a two times world champion, the youngest of the nine drivers who have achieved that feat.”

    Not quite true. To be clear:

    Youngest to achieve he certainly is, but the nine you mention are those who have won _back-to-back_ championships. (Vettel has also become the youngest to have won any two such championships, of the _fifteen_ who have ever won two or more).

  83. herowassenna says:

    Fascinating article, and some great posts.
    James, a little off topic, but I was wondering, do you ever play console racing games, or is that a little too close to home?
    And if so, who do you “drive” as?

      1. Ralf F says:

        Of course, we all know Yoshi is the greatest driver of all time! xD

  84. Jake Holocointo says:

    RBR raised Vettel’s game by providing him with a car tailor made for him, which in turn flattered the Pirellis.

    Had RBR not compromised Webber’s WDC campaign in 2010 in a bid to justify their investment in Vettel, then it would have been the Boy Wonder struggling for grip and podiums.

    1. David A says:

      Webber had no excuse for losing the title in 2010. The RB6 at his disposal, with far better luck with reliability, and Mark still lost.

  85. AJ says:

    Just a question, anyone…what exactly defines talent? How do we measure it? Statistical achievements? Bravado? Exhibition of skill? If so, then Seb and Mark would be equally talented.
    Mark, cause of the cars he drove before joining Red Bull (who the heck finishes 5th in a Minardi?), and Seb for being in the Top 8 in a Toro Rosso.

  86. Nige says:

    As an Alonso fan I have been in awe of Vettel.He has been flawless all year and has adapted to the tyres brilliantly. This for me is why Lewis is struggling as the tyres don’t allow him to drive in his normal extravagant style. A true champion adapts and he will have to soon or mclaren will start to focus their energies on button. Alonso will be able empathise with Lewis as he had a similar problem at mclaren when he made the change to Bridgestone…ironic!!

  87. Nige says:

    The day I realised Vettel was special wasn’t the Monza victory which was fantastic in it’s own right but considered a freak at the time. No for Me it was the pass on Lewis at the Brazilian GP 2008 in difficult conditions. Very single minded and focussed total belief that he could make it stick, with a total disregard for the championship. Never undertood the whole Vettel can’t overtake nonsense, media whipping up a frenzy while conveniently ignoring the evidence!

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