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Vettel is world champion again as Button wins Japanese GP
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Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Oct 2011   |  9:00 am GMT  |  217 comments

Sebastian Vettel became the youngest double world champion in the history of F1 today, the 24 year old finishing third in the race and wrapping up the title with four races still to go.

“To win the championship here is fantastic,” said an emotional Vettel. “I’m so thankful to everyone in the team, working day in and day out pushing hard. We found ourselves in a strong position and it’s great to achieve our goals. This year we have always been one step ahead. There is no secret, it’s step by step. The hardest thing is winning after winning, to go out and do it again. I needed all the support from the team, from Mark everyone working for me.”

The top four cars finished just 8 seconds apart at the end. The race was won with some style by Jenson Button, his 12th Grand Prix victory. Button was the only driver able to match Vettel’s pace in the early stages and who took advantage of some rather conservative strategy by Red Bull which was designed to ensure Vettel got a podium rather than push the limits in search of the race win as well.

Vettel had said before the race that he was going to “go for glory” in the race, to clinch the title in style. It didn’t work out that way, but they had a bigger prize in sight.

Alonso also took advantage of this conservatism to jump Vettel at the third pit stop for second place.

It was Button’s fifth win with McLaren, the first in fully dry conditions and surely one of his best. He extended his lead over team mate Lewis Hamilton in the championship to 32 points.

“This circuit is very special. We love this place so to get a victory here does mean a lot,” said Button.

Strategy was critical and pre-race predictions from Pirelli suggested that the soft tyres were degrading at around 0.2 secs per lap and it was felt that some cars starting the race on used soft tyres could be pitting as early as lap 7 or 8. The strategy engineers were very much playing a watching and waiting game.

Nevertheless many of the cars outside the top six who had the choice of tyre at the start went for the soft tyres too.

At start Vettel pushed fellow front row starter Jenson Button onto the grass in an uncompromising move which forced Button to back out of the throttle. This allowed Hamilton to pass him around the outside for second place.

The stewards looked into it but decided not to give him a penalty. However in the cool down room before the podium Button picked him up on it saying, “Is this how we’re racing now then?” Vettel did not respond.

Paul Di Resta got a good start from 12th up to 8th, Sutil gained two places from 11th to 9th. While Kobayashi lost four places, to the disappointment of the crowd.

Vettel settled into his usual rhythm early on, opening a gap over Hamilton, while on lap 6 Alonso sailed past team mate Felipe Massa, who had out-qualified him. Massa didn’t put up much of a fight, Alonso was using the DRS which was very powerful on the pit straight today.

Hamilton let Button past as he had a puncture, which brought him into the pits first. This ultimately caused him to lose a track position to Alonso.

Vettel followed into the pits on lap 10, Button and Alonso pitted a lap later and made up three seconds on Vettel in the process.

Button was the only one who could live with the pace of Vettel, matching his pace, while Alonso and Hamilton were a few tenths of a second off and Webber was held up in 6th place by Massa.

Towards the end of the stints on the soft tyres we saw Button and Alonso faster than Vettel and so it was at the end of the second stint.

Vettel had to pit on lap 20 and when Button came in a lap later he was ahead of the German. Alonso didn’t come in on that lap.

Hamilton and Massa tangled again on lap 21, the lap Hamilton came in for his second stop. The stewards looked into it. Massa’s car had some damage on the left side front wing and floor.

Webber undercut Massa for P4 and really came into the race when on lap 24 the safety car was deployed for debris on the track, this allowed all the cars who had only made one stop to pit.

On lap 28 the race was restarted with Button leading from Vettel, Alonso, Webber, Massa and Hamilton, with Schumacher Perez and Di Resta all drivers in the top ten who had been helped by the safety car.

On lap 34, Vettel became the first of the front runners to pit for medium tyres, Webber did the same a lap later, still coping with a front wing which was missing some vital parts.

Vettel emerged in traffic behind Rosberg and Sutil, and was a second a lap slower than leader the Button, which gave Alonso a chance.

Button pitted on lap 37 and Alonso came in a lap later jumping Vettel in the process for second place.

Schumacher led the race for a while, by virtue of making one less stop and helped by the safety car, it worked for him, when he made his third stop he was ahead of Massa.

In the closing stages Alonso closed in on Button as once again the Ferrari proved faster at the end of the stint on the tyres. Button soaked up the pressure and kept his car out of DRS range for Alonso.

JAPANESE GRAND PRIX, Suzuka, 53 laps
1. Button McLaren 1h30:53.427
2. Alonso Ferrari + 1.160
3. Vettel Red Bull + 2.006
4. Webber Red Bull + 8.071
5. Hamilton McLaren + 24.268
6. Schumacher Mercedes + 27.120
7. Massa Ferrari + 28.240
8. Perez Sauber + 39.377
9. Petrov Renault + 42.607
10. Rosberg Mercedes + 44.322
11. Sutil Force India + 54.447
12. Di Resta Force India + 1:02.326
13. Kobayashi Sauber + 1:03.705
14. Alguersuari Toro Rosso + 1:04.194
15. Maldonado Williams + 1:06.623
16. Senna Renault + 1:12.628
17. Barrichello Williams + 1:14.191
18. Kovalainen Lotus + 1:27.824
19. Trulli Lotus + 1:36.140
20. Glock Virgin + 2 laps
21. D’Ambrosio Virgin + 2 laps
22. Ricciardo HRT + 2 laps
23. Liuzzi HRT + 2 laps

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217 Comments
  1. Jake Pattison says:

    A nice race from Button.

    Such a shame that Vettel was so rude in the opening corner, that was uncalled for. He deserves the championship, but he should have won it with style instead of showing once again how he is following in Schumi’s footsteps.

    1. Michael S says:

      give me a break…”in Schumi’s shoes” I have seen that same move from Webber, Alonso, Hamilton I agree I hate the Chop, but you can thank Senna for inventing it and Schumi for perfecting it and now most use it at one point.

      1. wayne says:

        Yes, it’s pretty much been a part of F1 for 25 years. He did move to chop Button then retake his racing line though so it was certainly deliberate.

        I would like to take this opportunity to make a plea to the F1 powers that be. Enough of the silly destructo-tyres! We have DRS, we have KERS – how many gimmicks does F1 need? While we are all cheering the ‘great racing’ the tyres have produced this year we have a field of F1 drivers who routinely cannot drive the car as fast as it will go for fear of the wacky races tyres falling apart. What is F1 for is not to take the fastest cars in the world and drive them as fast as they will allow?

        These tyres have not increased overtaking one jot. What they have done is let the guy on the newer or ‘best’ tyre cruise up and pass a defenceless target without issue, skill or any element of risk. They have also reduced the races to several short sprints, effectively neutering ‘real’ on track action.

        Now I know tyres have always been critical and I know we have always had sprint stints, but never to the extent we have seen this year. What the heck do Pirelli get out of marketing their tyres to the world as fragile but fast? The only priority for 90% of road users is – will these tyres I am spending £600 for a set on last? I would never buy a set of Pirelli’s based on this F1 marketing campaign.

        In the mean time thrilling drivers like Hamilton are forced to drive around at 80% capacity to make the rubber last! Yes F1 should involve strategy but it should not be the primary factor in winning – driving fast should be!

      2. wayne says:

        These tyres just hand the advantage to ‘journeymen’ drivers who are not essentially fast (relatively speaking) or aggressive, but they are great at winning world rubber saving championships.

      3. Richard Mee says:

        Personally, I wish that there were unlimited sets of tyres allowed and that every compound was made available at every circuit.

        By liberating the strategic scope entirely I think it would level the field a little whilst not losing the variation that I personally enjoy and which was sadly lacking IMO during the years of bomb-proof Bridgestone consistency.

        Any counter claims of environmental impact or additional cost are frankly laughable when considering everything else besides.

      4. wayne says:

        Richard Mee, I could not agree more with your comments about environmental impact. F1 is so utterly replete with hypocracy in this area it is indeed laughable. If it pays millions we will fly hundreds of tonnes to a deserted track in the desert……….. for example.

      5. Mark V says:

        That was certainly an “iffy” move by Vettel but in the end I agree with the stewards.

        I just want to add that Vettel has been under fire from many people (including me at times), but I have to say that I have been convinced that he is a great driver and a class act, and especially so at his young age.

        F1 is lucky to have such a great champion who has won 2 championships in such convincing and remarkably un-controversial fashion.

    2. LD says:

      Don’t think it was rude at all. It’s called racing and Jenson had every right to go for the gap, while Vettel had the same right to close it.

      1. Adam says:

        You are correct, its called racing, right up to the point he put Button in the grass with no room left and that is both dangerous and failing to be racing anymore.

        Think of the massive pile up that could have resulted had Button bounced back into the track.

        They need to cover this at the next drivers meeting that you get a stop and go anytime you put someone in the grass by depriving them of a cars width of track at the start.

        Lastly it was uncalled for, he won the championship with third, the win was not needed. it just shows as a driver, Vettel needs to grow up.

      2. Richard Mee says:

        Sorry but rubbish.
        I am a huge Button fan but this was OK. I’d respect Vettel less if he had conceded. If we chastise every move such as this we’ll soon have a totally bland non-event.
        For me, there was a big difference between this move and for example Schumi’s move on Rubens in Hungary where there was a bloody concrete wall coming up ready to kill the guy!

        Rich

      3. FZR says:

        It was quite as you indicate. Button had half a wheel on the grass if that. The marshals got it right.

        Can someone please tell me what is with the new carbon extensions to the top of the visors on all helmets I believe?

        Are they for safety? What gives.

        Thanks

      4. BBob says:

        Since when did racing on the grass cease to be racing? Grow up. Racing is about one man beating another at any and all costs. It’s supposed to be dangerous. Vettel showed today that he has grown up. You logic is 100% diametrically flawed. If you want safe and agreeable, find a knitting circle and sign up. If you want balls to the wall madness with the best and strongest driver coming out on top then F1 is your best bet.

      5. Khan says:

        I think FIA should fire all stewards. There is extensive TV coverage everywhere. They should set up a vote on their web site with following:

        1) Punishment for Driver A
        2) Punishment for Driver B
        3) No further action

        All of you should give our verdict in next 5 minutes and they should implement immediately afterwards.
        They are really stupid that they do not know everyone out there is a skilled and high quality steward!

      6. LD says:

        Ok, we have to agree to disagree. I’ve seen a few drivers do this and not get reprimanded. So i would have thought it would be grossly unfair for the stewards to have punished Vettel.

        If a crash had happened, then absolutely, punish him.

      7. Noel says:

        Re: FZR: the visor extension is for safety reasons. Follows on from Massa’s accident last year as the top of the top of the visor was considered a weak point.

      8. leonard says:

        Well, it wasn’t quite as simple as that. Vettel was not “closing” a gap. He drove distinctly to the right to BLOCK Button after seeing him in his right mirror. The in car shot clearly shows him driving towards Button while Buttons car was at least a quarter of the way alongside. That is an illegal move.

        You can move ONCE when someone is behind you, but you cannot drive into them so they have to brake to avoid, and you certainly cannot leave less room than a car’s width. Vettel left less than a cars width which is why Button went on the grass.

      9. Ron W says:

        Vettel has done this ‘closing’ move before – last year in Turkey on Webber.

        Button was half way alongside Vettel, thus he should have been given space. If Vettel wanted the inside line so badly, he could have moved over immediately.

        I think the fact that it was on a straight was what made it worse – very similar to the Schumi/Barichello incident.

        I think Button said it best in the pre podium room though.

      10. wayne says:

        Richard Mee, sorry but you are plain wrong. You do not have to drive these cars at 200mph so it’s safe for you to call Vettel’s chop ‘ok’ from the comfort of your armchair. These was almost no difference at all in principle between this move and Schumi’s move – had it been Schumi this time round, all and sundry would be baying for his blood. Putting two wheels on the grass more of ten than not results in a spin – imagine the carnage before the first corner had Jenson spun with all the field closed right up alongside him.

        While we are all busy telling these drivers to ‘stop whining’, we need to keep one eye on keeping them safe.

      11. Richard Mee says:

        OK – mildly irritating Wayne.

        What should Vettel have done then? Stayed on rails in the middle of the track and see who had the biggest balls into the braking zone – with IMO far greater risk of a collision and carnage?

        Wave Button past him and shout ‘have a good race old chap!’?

        And please don’t play the safety card – it’s too easy because it’s hard for me to argue because I don’t like the idea of seeing drivers hurt – but at the same time, you want everyone to be wrapped in cotton wool and punish any borderline risky move the sport will become so incredibly dull as to become pointless.

        Whilst you’re at it, why not impose 30mph speed limits? Christ’s sake!

      12. Brukay says:

        Why are some people upset at Vettels move sure Jensen wheels did clip the grass but not dangerously so and the stewards agreed it was ok hence no penalty. I thought Alonso move Monza was more iffy when forced Vettel onto the grass at very high speed interestingly stewards did not investigate that incident as far as i know so i suppose Vettel would think he was ok after his experience with Alonso. The difference was Jensen moaned about it to the stewards Vettel did’nt

      13. wayne says:

        Yep, I still disagree with you Richard Mee. ‘Biggest balls into the breaking zone’ is something that all the drivers expect and are ready for and is therefore safer. A car chopping across the track is not something they are ready for as is generally is not permitted.

        And I am not going to ‘not play the safety card’ just because it is hard for you to argue against. It’s hard to argue against for a reason.

        PS. don’t get irritated it’s only a friendly F1 debate which is what this site is partially for.

      14. Paul says:

        @ Brukay

        “The difference was Jensen moaned about it to the stewards Vettel did’nt”

        Yeah the difference was Alonso admitted it and apologised for it whereas Vettel lied and didn’t
        say the ‘s’ word

    3. mo kahn says:

      When Hamilton does it… its a justified aggression is it? good for the sport otherwise F1 would be dull is it? When other drivers do it.. its rude and if Schumacher does it he is flawed is it?
      How Hypocritical ? :)

      1. Joe says:

        …Except when Hamilton does it, it’s an instant penalty. As much as I would’ve liked to see Vettel get a penalty (personal bias), I’ve got to say the lack of steward intervention in any of the incidents was well judged, and hopefully a sign of things to come. Though I doubt it!

      2. devilsadvocate says:

        Don’t think Hamilton has gotten a penalty for simply squeezing anyone, didn’t even get a penalty today for chewing up the side of massa’s fezza which if you watch( regardless of the color glasses you wear) Hamilton came off of his line smacked Massa and went back.

        I think the stewards were right on all counts today, it was refreshing actually for a change. Button won anyways so forthe Brits with their panties in a wad… Who cares?

      3. wayne says:

        devilsadvocate, I don’t wear glasses and it was plain to see that Hamilton moved left because it was a right hand corner. This is where he and every other driver moves left on every lap and into every right hand corner.

        What is interesting is that the Stewards said no action because Massa was on the outside left going into a right hand corner. This was exactly where Koby was, and Hamilton was universally vilified for that one too. The kid is so whipped by all the numpties that he actually claimed blame for that one! Perhaps people should start looking at the chase driver and wonder why they drive into gaps that they know are going to vanish.

      4. David Ryan says:

        Wayne: There is a difference between being at fault for something and being at fault for something sufficiently to warrant a penalty. Taking the Spa incident again, Lewis was on the inside line going into the braking zone, moved across and clipped Kobayashi (who had every right to be there as the line was clear). His crash was a direct result of his decision to change his line, and as such it was his fault – and for the record, I disagree completely with David Coulthard’s claim that Kobayashi turned in on him, because if you look at the footage that is the turn-in point for Les Combs. I don’t believe Lewis deserved a penalty for what happened in Spa – he paid enough for it anyway – but I still believe he was at fault. On the Suzuka incident with Massa, I think he was pushing the limits of racing room but again probably not enough to warrant a penalty. Massa could have been more circumspect about taking the outside line, but contrary to your assertion Lewis could easily have made the corner without needing to move left – it’s called a block. He was not the only driver in that position at that corner during the race, but he was the only one to tangle at that corner so you have to ask why.

      5. doug vx says:

        If Hamilton had done it he would almost certainly have got a drive through! Great drive by Button and a great Championship from Vettel…shame about the move though…it just left a bit of a bad taste in the mouth. :-(

      6. CC says:

        Agreed, and probably Whiting et al are swayed by BE’s affection for Seb. Someday someone will call his bluff on a move like that and it won’t be pretty. Lucky for Seb Jenson gave way.

      7. Craff says:

        If Jenson can put it behind him, then i don’t see why it’s such a big issue for people here. It’s not like it’s an example of inconsistency where others have done someone similar and been punished.

        Vettel wasn’t getting reprimanded for that in a million years.

    4. Nando says:

      This behaviour just seems to be allowed at the start. Vettel was chopping across for most of last season, until he realised it was actually costing him on most occasions.
      It’s just strong racing just have to let them get on with it, until you’re at least by the back wheel they’ve the option to pull-out.

      1. Brukay says:

        I agree with you entirely

    5. Quercus says:

      If it was up to me I’d make a rule that drivers had to stick to the racing line except when overtaking another car. Weaving to block another driver from overtaking is unsportsmanlike. Deliberately forcing another driver onto the grass is dangerous.

      1. Martin says:

        What would you do at the start for the half of the grid not on the racing line?

        I like the general sentiment, but some would say that it is not hard racing if the driver can only defend by braking late.

      2. Brukay says:

        I take it you never watch GP2

    6. JohnBt says:

      ‘Such a shame that Vettel was so rude in the opening corner’

      Nah I don’t think so at all, it’s racing and enjoyed the dust kicked up by Button. I’d love to see more of that, that’s why Vettel wasn’t penalised.

      Ayrton used to walk the grassy areas of tracks making sure he could use them for a pass if needed to.

      1. MISTER says:

        Would you think the same if JB would have kept the wheels on the tarmac and SV would have touched JB’s car by moving right? What if then SV would have crashed just as LH did in the touch with Kobayashy in Spa?

        I do agree that drivers need to block others, but up to the point when they leave space for the other driver. Closing the gap completely is wrong.

    7. David Ryan says:

      It was a tough opening move, but no worse than the likes of Alonso, Hamilton et al have used in the past. Unfortunately it does seem to be par for the course nowadays.

    8. James M says:

      All I would say is Alonso did worse to Vettel at Monza; I think the stewards have been quite consistent.

  2. Michael C says:

    The race for second in the championship and who’s the #1 driver at McLaren becomes clearer today as well.

    Well done Jenson!

  3. F1Fan4Life says:

    I’m not really sure why we’d say Vettel’s conservatism allowed Alonso to jump past him at the stops, the Red Bull simply didn’t have the legs on those tires and had no choice. In that case, Ferrari’s conservatism this season has let every other leading team lap them.

    Vettel was certainly not conservative at all in attempting to overtake him for most of the laps immediately after. In the country where I watch F1, the commentators were talking about Sebastien Vettel at the start of the race as “One of the greatest champions in F1″, which is a completely premature joke to me.

    Seb looked an ordinary champion today, which in my view is exactly how he would look if he wasn’t leading most of the laps on almost every GP. He was outdone by a better driver in a slower red car. Hopefully next year some car equality will redress and give us a tighter world championship. But I am not an unfair fan, I must give credit where credit is due and give the man of the hour his due plaudits – Congratulations Adrian Newey on another World Championship!

    1. Michael S says:

      You seem very bitter on this… If the RB was so much faster than all cars why is Webber so far behind? Can’t say tires don’t suit him, we are at race 16. The reality is Seb was amazing this year so was the car and the team

      1. F1Fan4Life says:

        You can sing Seb’s praise all you want, I have no issue with that, I’m just stating my point. Since you want to bring up ‘reality’, the RB is the better package, just look at the Constructor’s Championship points for your reality check. Am I bitter? As a fan I like to see closer competition, not one car running away with a title; I didn’t like it when Schumacher and Ferrari did it either. I gave credit to the man I feel is really the key reason, Adrian Newey. I actually can’t believe one would argue that the RB is not faster than other cars looking at qualifying tally this year. Delusional?

        Bringing up Webber is pointless because I didn’t say anything about Webber – Why is Alonso so many places ahead of Massa? Same story. On a side note and since you bring it up, add in the number of times Webber has had issues with his car during race weekends, either in qualifying or race. They were far more than Sebs issues. Sometimes people have a bad year. Maybe reserve judgement on Mark until next year…

      2. Dave C says:

        Yeah look at the constructors points and look who gained most of the points for RBR, considering Button and Alonso are ahead of Webber says it all, Mark’s a very fast driver and would give Button, Alonso and Hamilton a lot of problems if they drove the same car but it’s Vettel that stands out and is definitely the best driver in Formula 1, it must be gutting for you that Hamilton has faded badly and is now the number 2 driver to Jenson.

      3. zombie says:

        Guess F1 fans are one of a kind where no amount of “entertainment” is entertaining enough! We have such uncertain races almost every lap now that its almost like watching Superbikes on 4 wheels! How close can the competition be when you have 12 cars separated by 1 second at times ?

        Vettel and RBR did a better job than anybody else.In every sport there are people who dominate an entire era – Schumacher,Doohan,Rossi,Tiger,Jordan to name a few. We truly maybe witnessing the arrival of a record-breaker here.I always thought Schumacher’s record will remain intact for decades to come, i think Vettel will break it by the time he is 30!

      4. Paul says:

        Dave C,

        Oh please, its quite obvious Mark Webber is no good with the new tyre rules. You really think Seb is that good!

        If Button or Alonso were in that Red Bull partnering Seb the championship wouldnt be over yet! MW and LH are not as good at saving tyres nor can either think on there own two feet in the midst of the race.

      5. Dave Deacon says:

        Reality is that SV gets a better car than MW. Reality is that AN had provided the best car of the field. SV is nothing special – the car is and that’s Newey’s doing. Put almost any of those drivers in the same car with the same support and he’d win – and would be termed stunning brilliant amazing and all the other nonsense adjectives F1 applies.

      6. F1Fan4Life says:

        Interesting take zombie. You actually believe that Webber would cause Button and Alonso problems if they were in the same car…I mean, I think even a relatively casual fan would know that this would not be the case. I can’t take you seriously….you have the most fitting username I’ve ever come across. Congrats!

      7. Craff says:

        Yes, there’s a lot of F1 fans that seem to want to devalue Seb where they can. Jenson had a very dominate car in his WDC year, but i don’t believe we consider his title tainted.

        He maximised the machinery he was given. That’s all a driver can do. Seb is no different.

        Should we ban Adrian Newey then, if it’s all so unfair.

      8. Brukay says:

        How do you know his car is better? You would’nt be an aussie by any chance? It is interesting i am a kiwi and when i go over there which is often (i have family there) i get all this rubbish about conpiracys against Mark but it is not unusual aussie have much self belief they are the best sometimes they are but not this time Vettel is the real deal sorry

      9. MISTER says:

        I don’t agree with you.
        Look at the pace MW had last year compared to SV on Bridgestone tyres.
        The problem is either MW cannot get these new tyres work, or SV is half a second faster then last year.
        I am sorry, but becoming half a second faster on raw speed over the winter period doesn’t look right. SV has stopped making mistakes, but I don’t believe he is that much faster.

        If you want to compare things, why don’t you mention Alonso and Massa in the same way you compare Vettel with Webber?

      10. Brukay says:

        Mister Just look at the results he must be faster would’nt you think

    2. dom says:

      The Mclaren was plainly the faster car this weekend – just Mclaren driver’s underperformance that they didn’t get pole – perhaps as in Malaysia where they might also have had the faster car….

      Vettel has been imperious this year and each Mclaren driver has just highlighted his teammates weaknesses and inconsistancy in my view.

    3. Martin says:

      I’ll take a different angle. You give credit to Adrian Newey, but ignore guys like Rob Marshall, the head of aerodynamics. Newey is involved in the architectural direction of the car, but there are many smart people in the team doing work. If you gave Newey Mercedes’ design team I believe you end up with a better Mercedes, not a Red Bull competitor. Newey is like the CEO of a company – he is very important, and can be hard to replace, but it is not like the period up to the 1980s where a designed dominated the total car.

      I’m not sure how with the engine freeze, but I think Renault has narrowed the gap to the Mercedes Benz engines too.

      You can point to qualifying performance as a sign of a dominant car, but it is more complex than than, with engine modes for the first half of the season, the level of hot blowing that can be used in the race due to the fuel consumption penalty and there is the fact that greater downforce leads to greater tyre wear, so qualifying performance does not always translate to race pace. By starting on pole, Vettel and Red Bull have often had a tactical advantage, but if you look over the season, in race conditions the McLaren has often been the faster car. Martin Witmarsh has a tendency to be fairly optimistics, but in China, Spain, Monaco, Montreal, Germany, Hockenheim, Italy and Japan there is good case that in race trim the McLaren was the better car. Starting behind didn’t help, but the McLaren is good enough to have always been in the top four. There are a few races, such as Malaysia and Belgium where it could be argued – by Whitmarsh for one – that the McLaren was a match for the Red Bull.

      It is in the races that the points are awarded, but I think if you really looked at what the drivers are doing in qualifying, that Vettel is delivering more than Hamilton, particularly in longer corners, he is closer to filling out all of the friction circle (technically an elipsis) than Hamilton (whose more V rather then U shaped approach to corners with an early turn-in necessitates a lower mid corner speeed. A benefit is less distance travelled). From 2007 to 2009 Hamilton generally favoured an aggressive qualifying and race strategy, usually running a little less fuel than his team mate. There were exceptions (Monaco 2007 was a famous one), but Lewis’ qualifying pace reputation to be me is overstated. I believe his race speed is generally more noteworthy than his qualifying speed. However, this year Vettel, Alonso and Button have clearly demonstrated better tyre management across the season. In some races Hamilton has got it right, but in others he has overcooked it.

      In my view, only Alonso could make any claim to be near Vettel’s level in qualifying this year (at least in the top teams), but I suspect that on average on one lap, Vettel is the best over one lap. Then in the races he has been fast enough and made few mistakes. There have been races where Button and Hamilton have shown the other up by a significant margin. This lack of consistency to me is a sign that Vettel has the edge on these two.

      Cheers,

      Martin

      1. Brukay says:

        Martin very good post I agree with your opinion about Hamilton a fantastic racer, perhaps a bit inconsistent Qualifying ala Shumacher, Vettel and Alonso are the best Qualifiers. I do not understand the Hamilton haters we had the same with Shumacher they really are the entertainers of F1 more power to there elbows.

      2. Martin says:

        Hi Brukay,

        (I hope you appreciate this – it made a great distraction from my part-time uni assignments on project management).

        In Schumacher’s case there is a clear Germany vs England thing to the history that the British care so much about, while the Germans really don’t have. In 1994 there were all the accusations of cheating that Schumacher was associated with. Williams were seen as the British team, much more so than McLaren (too commercial and clinical, not quite the same perceived values). I’m in Australia so I’m guessing a bit here, but I think that nationality and the two collisions in 1994 and 1997 set Schumacher up to be the bad guy.

        With Lewis Hamilton I suspect that there are a few factors. A key one is the silver spoon treatment that he has had during his career. Other drivers, such as Prost, Senna and Vettel have had sponsors from an early age due to talent spotted early on. Hamilton is the first to my knowledge to have had such a helping hand from a leading team. Red Bull could ensure that Vettel had money to compete, but McLaren could usually get Hamilton into the best car in series, so he was always on the front foot.

        Hamilton has been described as the best ever prepared F1 debutant due to the huge number of simulator hours that he clocked up before racing. He then benefitted from having the first or second fastest car depending on the track and the most reliable car on the grid. In terms of starting a career in a top car, the only comparable starts that I could find were Giancarlo Baghetti (won his only GP on debut in France in 1961 as the fourth Ferrari enterred – the other three filled the front row of the grid, but had problems in the race), Emerson Fittipaldi, who was picked on talent to be the third Lotus driver in 1970 and won his 4th race and Jacques Villeneuve, who won the last Indy 500 to mean something and the CART title.

        Even before Hamilton started in 2007, there were associations with Tiger Woods in terms of a black young talent at the top level. While Hamilton immediately got results, there was the spectators excuse of the car being better, unlikely in golf where the metaphorical playing field is pretty level. But there was hype, and that pisses some people off, particularly if the subject adds to it.

        Then you get the comparison with Alonso – a who’s better argument between often biased fans who ignore expert opinion (such as F1 team engineers). The headline results say one thing, but there are enough details to allow counter arguments. For example, if Hamilton is rattled this year by some pretty inconsequential stuff and has the team behind him, how well would Alonso perform if early on he started having conflict with Ron Dennis (April if I recall without much confidence) and later had most of the team backing Hamilton? If Lewis thought through this, how would he now rate Alonso? Or as another example, is it significant that at the three fastest tracks that year, Silverstone, Spa and Monza, Alonso was clearly superior? Does Hamilton have a weakness in longer corners (but not turn 3 at Barcelona length) where high apex speeds are important?

        There are similar ways to create arguments that Massa should have won the 2008 champioship (not spinning off in Malaysia would have helped..). The Singapore race was Massa’s to win until Piquet intervened and if you add in the piston failure in Hungary it is enough to cover the disqualification at Spa.

        So over the first two seasons you can build an argument for a lack of legitimacy, that Hamilton has had more success than he deserves. In comparison, Button didn’t have another drive in any series if he turned Frank Williams down.

        Then there’s the Manchester United affect of a popular team winning a lot, so everyone who is not a Man U fan wants the other team to win. Hamilton has had the “benefit” of being the leading UK driver, and has therefore picked up the most supportive, sympathetic, irrational fans. This annoys some people and then you get others who that Hamilton-hyping will provoke a reaction and do it to get it.

        For others, I suspect that there is a specific thing to the way he races – Hamilton tends leave the other exactly one car width as they reach the end of the braking area. There’s space at the start, but if Hamilton is defending it tends to be a case of two moves rather than than one, and it stops a further attack at the next corner. It is smart and skillful driving most of the time, but technically it breaches the one move rule.

        This year, the McLaren has not had a straightline speed advantage, so Lewis’ passing opportunities have been rarer.

        A final contributor is his image. James has referred to it as his edgy style, but that is probably at best relative to F1 drivers who don’t get out much. If Shirley Manson was his girlfriend then I might find it edgy, but to me he seems very middle of the road [mod]. Which shouldn’t be a problem, but I think it is one of the things that contributes to the sense that Hamilton isn’t as intelligent as Alonso or Vettel, and this gets added to the non-fans image of Hamilton.

        So take your pick, a rare talent, an on-track bully who doesn’t deserve the cars he’s had or a guy blighted by his fans.

        I’d go with one the greatest intinctive racing drivers ever in F1. Overrated on qualifying pace, but stil very good. Needs some work in the tyre and mind management aspects. Some of fans have some interesting mind issues too…

        Cheers,

        Martin

    4. Brukay says:

      Seb an ordinary champ? On that basis Lewis looked very ordinary today compared to Jensen but most of us know better believe me you are looking at two of the best. Consider that he only had to finish where he was 3rd to win title he was also told not to risk a move on Alonso by Horner I would think by now you can trust James Allen to get it right and he did.

  4. Michael C says:

    Also just noticed that Vitaly Petrov has finally outscored Nick Heidfeld who hasn’t driven since Hungary!

  5. Andrew J says:

    A superb drive by Jenson Button to win the race, and a superb season for Sebastian Vettel, a thoroughly deserved world championship.

    So, all those who keep bringing up their comments about Jenson Button not winning a dry race – happy now? And where’s that chap who wanted to lay a bet that Hamilton would finish higher than Button in the points. I’m tempted to take it…

    1. Neil says:

      Couldn’t agree more.

      Not only did Button win a dry race, but he beat Hamilton on straight pace. Neither driver had a mechanical issue. The safety car didn’t really help (or hinder) either driver over the other. Even Hamiltons’s magnetic attraction to Massa managed to be a non-event this time.

      Today, Button was just faster.

      Neil.

      1. Jason C says:

        Hamilton had a puncture while in front of Button.

      2. Paul says:

        Ahhh, the puncture which became apparent to him two turns before the paddock which was neutralised by the safety car.

      3. Rubinho's Keyfob says:

        “Neither driver had a mechanical issue.”

        HAM had a rear puncture early on and let BUT (and others) through while making his way slowly back to the pits.

      4. Paul says:

        Slowly?

        For 2 turns?

        Stop making out it was worse than it actually was.

      5. Rubinho's Keyfob says:

        For some reason I am not allowed to directly respond to Paul’s reply but I can to my own. Anyway, Paul replied:

        “Slowly? For 2 turns? Stop making out it was worse than it actually was.”

        HAM slowed down due to the puncture and he let BUT through on that lap. Later, this also cost him a place to ALO and arguably compromised his whole race.

        What I mean by “slowly” is “slower than he should have been going” (which is true). When lap times are being measured in 100ths or 1000ths of a second, losing even 1 or 2 seconds in those two corners (“2 turns”) is very significant.

        Stop making it out to be more trivial than it was ;)

  6. AlexD says:

    PHENOMENAL YEAR – CONGRATS FROM A FERRARI FAN:-)
    -1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1
    ————————————————
    Red Bull and Vettel, in particular, has been phenomenal throughout the year. He made every opportunity work in his favor. He has been absolutely dominant and he was always in control – it is just so impressive. To see this, you need to have a car that he’s got, but at the same time he extracted everything that was possible from the car. He is great, there is not question.

    I am also thrilled to see Button coming that strong this year. Well done to him.

    Also Alonso…I wish he had the car of Vettel, we would have seen the same dominant performance. I think that Alonso would have won more races in this Red Bull, but would not take as many poles. Vettel is faster over one lap, but Alonso is a better overall driver, for now.

    CONGRATS TO RED BULL FANS…..:-) I HOPE NEXT YEAR YOU WILL CONGRATULATE TO FERRARI FANS:-)

  7. Just A Bloke says:

    Good close race, fantastic effort by Jenson and McLaren but WELL DONE to Red Bull & Seb on a great Season…

    On a wider note will it take an accident at th front of grid for this lack of manners and sportsmanship at the strat to be clamped down on? Seb simply did not leave Jenson enough room. What REALLY bugs me is that he does not need to do it.

    Spolis it for me, it s not a good overtake.

    1. JF says:

      Perhaps professional tea drinking is your sport. These guys are race car drivers, they should be aggressive to the extreme.

      1. Richard Mee says:

        Agree 100% JF. THIS IS NOT TIDDLY-WINKS!

      2. Craff says:

        Here here.

      3. Craff says:

        Hear, hear i meant.

  8. Grabyrdy says:

    Fantastic race for Jenson, and fantastic season for Seb. Let’s hope next year McLaren and Ferrari start on terms with RB, then we’ll really have a season to look forward to.

    Pity we won’t be able to watch it ….

  9. Richard says:

    A very good exercise in tyre conservation by Jenson Button to win the race, and given his afinity with Japan was an excellent result. Fernando Alonso was for me driver of the race having made up several places in a car that demonstrated better eventual race pace than qualifying form. Sebastion Vettel despite his questionable starting tactics drove a sensible race to finish 3rd, and confirm his much deserved 2nd and back to back world titles. Lewis Hamilton started well enough but was dogged by an early puncture finishing fifth behind Mark Webber. Hamilton’s race was fairly lack lustre by his standards which I think showed in his downcast demeanour during the interview. Still not sure what’s wrong with Hamilton, but he needs to pick himself up dust himself down and start performing again like we know he can. That all said I think the race in Japan demonstated just how restrictive these Pirelli tyres are in particularly those conditions with the soft tyre very rapidly falling away with some cars and drivers. I wonder just how the FIA expect drivers to push hard to make up ground when the race is so artificially constrained. It is unfair and favours the quickest, most agile car.

  10. mo kahn says:

    Wow… with five races to go… incredible… people say its the car… my question is where is Webber in the very same car?

    A truly worthy champion… God bless n’ wishing him many more championships :)

    1. Noel says:

      Webber is fourth in the championship and has not won a race, unlike Alonso, Button and Hamilton who all have. It’s called consistency, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that in motor racing terms. Just ask Christian Horner as his opinion on Webbers performance is probably the one that counts.

  11. Den says:

    Is Hamilton the only driver who gets penalties nowadays?

    1. Webbo says:

      To be fair, he didn’t get a penalty, neither today nor yesterday, and I think that is good.

    2. Kshitij Gopal says:

      He’s the only one who seems to be deserving them.

  12. r0ssj says:

    Congratulations to Vettel, he done what he needed to do to wrap up the title. And well done to Button for taking a good win, in the dry as well!

    Alonso also put in a great drive to beat a McLaren and two Red Bulls, in the 3rd fastest car and starting from fifth.

    Webber and Hamilton both had disappointing races. Hamilton was really off the pace. Thought he a good chance for the win after qualifying yesterday. and he had a good start today.

    Hopefully, next season we’ll get more races like this were the top three teams have similar pace on track. and we get an actual battle for the win.

  13. DK says:

    Congratulation to Seb the new double world champion! However, I wish RBR could have taken more risk in this race and maybe there would more action on track.

    Jenson drove a fine race today and I think he has “destroyed” Lewis confidence quite a bit recently.

    1. Dave Roberts says:

      DK, I agree with you about Lewis’ confidence. There is a lot of conjecture about the causes of Lewis’ poor season and the self made errors but I wonder if it is simply the case that for the first time in his career he has a team mate who is out performing him and is obviously comfortable in his standings within the team. Jenson appears so relaxed and has apparently won the hearts of his mechanics and perhaps this is undermining Lewis’ self belief and decision making.

      Jenson has the stature of being the team’s number one driver at present. I bet Martin Whitmarsh wishes he could concentrate his media interviews on Jenson’s form and not having to be constantly defending Lewis.

      I was one of those that commented on this forum that I feared for Jenson’s career when he joined McLaren. How pleased I am to be so wrong!

      1. Richard says:

        One thing perhaps we’ve forgotten in all this is that Lewis has had to put up with less than competitive cars from McLaren since 2008 and he has seen Sebastion come in with a great car in 2010 and now 2011 and steal his thunder. I think Lewis’s depression sunk in during first third of the season when he realised that this was not a great car. On top of all that he has had the media hounding him. In the meantime Jenson has got stuck in to dealing with the car which as it has improved has produce good results for him. I do hope that Lewis can get into a better frame of mind and start performing again as it would seem that he is simply going through the motions.

  14. Nick4 says:

    Congratulations to Seb Vettel. He is a very worthy WC. Congrats to Jenson Button, unquestionably the de facto number 1 at McLaren now, after a brilliant year. Button and Alonso have squeezed the most out of what’s left of the dominance of Seb Vettel and Red Bull. Now it is a race to see who will take the number two spot.

  15. Lewis Jones says:

    Congrats Seb, fully deserved double world champion! And also congrats to Jenson for winning in the dry (which hopefully might silence the critics) and really showing us the form he is in at the present time.
    Now let’s hope Ferrari and McLaren can give their drivers a car from Race 1 next year that can really take the fight to the Red Bulls.

  16. jonnyd says:

    im fed up with people crying fowl play, whenever they see a driver on the grass.
    its as if, when a driver is initiating an overtake, and drives on a piece of grass, he automatically becomes a victim.
    Look at the facts. Vettel was consistently moving across. Button wasn’t fully alongside. Button was barely a quarter car length alongside. Button made a better start. He ATTEMPTED to go up the inside. He thought Vettel wouldn’t fully close the door, so he took to the grass a bit. Vettel DID fully close the door. End of discussion.

    How was there any fowl play there at all? Drivers seem to think that when they’ve got their nose on the inside of the car infront, that entitles them to space all of a sudden. It’s not the drivers job infront to go ‘oh the guy behind has made a much better start then me, chances he he’ll be alongside me going into the first corner, I better give him some room!’

    i think when button sees the replay he’ll realise he wasn’t as alongside vettel as he thought he was. the commentators go nuts whenever theres some grass cutting.

    1. Peter says:

      Not many people were complaining for Fernando putting Vettel on the grass in Monza, though it was more dangerous. This is racing.

      1. Nando says:

        He didn’t put him on the grass, Vettel choose to go on the grass instead of giving up the overtake.

      2. Monktonnik says:

        Exactly. The overtaking driver can always back off and go the other way around, or just give up the overtake. Same with JB at Suzuka’11, same with Barichello in Hungary ’10.

        The FIA also has unofficially said that they turn a blind eye to multiple moves off the start line. Vetted was hard in his defense, but still legal.

        By the way I am a JB fan.

      3. JohnBt says:

        Am thinking when did Nando put any driver at danger in his racing career. Vettel expression after the Monza pass was totally different from Jenson. Vettel enjoyed doing that, that’s machismo to me.

    2. Tim B says:

      “closing the door” usually refers to drivers closing off an overtaking line as they turn into the corner, not to squeezing other cars on the straight.

      Button drove in (more or less) a straight line from his starting position on the inside toward turn 1. Vettel veered across from his outside line until Button was forced on to the grass, and then moved back and took his line into the corner. At no point did Button have an alternative other than to lift off or to collide with Vettel. If they were turning in to the corner, fair enough, but they weren’t even into the braking zone.

      This one was probably borderline – we could be charitable and suggest that Vettel didn’t realise how far he’d moved over. His main concern was probably to compromise Button’s corner entry so that Button wouldn’t be able to stay abreast of him through the corner, which would be fine if Vettel had stayed a couple of inches further to his left.

      However, if he makes a habit of pushing people off the track during the start he will need to be pulled up. It’s not good racing, it’s just needlessly dangerous. If Vettel had touched wheels with Button there would have been a big accident, probably involving half the field.

      1. jonnyd says:

        accept that button was barely half a car length alongside. he had his front wheels just infront of vettels rear wheels, at the point where button had to lift off. Thats the video evidence. Thats why the stewards gave no penalty.
        ‘closing the door’ is just that – defending your position to stop the guy behind overtaking. this wasn’t crowding, or shoving, not even close.
        its pathetic that it was even considered as a likely penalty.
        vettel had every right to close the door, and he did so soundly. button had the option to lift, he didn’t think vettel would keep moving across, which he did, so he backed out of it after trying an alonso style grass move.

        100% nothing wrong done at all.

      2. jonnyd says:

        it was actually a carbon copy of button on hamilton in canada – accept instead of some grass, hamilton found the wall instead.

        i bet you weren’t saying the same thing about button then, as you are now about vettel.

      3. doug vx says:

        :-D
        Carbon copy?…yep, it was all the spray coming up off the track that stopped Vettel seeing him!! :-/

    3. Webbo says:

      There was no foul play and that’s why there was no penalty.

  17. Charlie B says:

    A good race with a good result. Button deserved the win, Alonso dragging a poor car into second and Vettel winning the title. It couldn’t have been done at a better track.

    Also, for the first time in a while the BBC F1 Forum was really good.

  18. Seán Craddock says:

    How did Massa damage the front left of his floor and wing?

    1. Andy H says:

      have a guess who he collided with

      1. Seán Craddock says:

        Well I know he collided with Hamilton, but he hit the front right of Massa. Who else did he collide with?

  19. leonard says:

    It’s a shame Vettel wins the championship after running Button off the road. Like Schumacher before him, a talented driver really has no need to try unfair tactics to win cleanly, and Vettel spoils an otherwise honourable championship win by clearly pushing Button on to the grass, and it’s not the first time he’s somehow either ruined or threatened Button’s race.

    I have no idea why the stewards didn’t immediately award a penalty. While Button was not ahead, Vettel nevertheless saw him in his mirrors and without doubt moved in such a way as to leave far less than a car’s width. What if Button had stayed put? It would have taken them both out.

    The excuse by the stewards that there is too much going on at the start to judge is nonsense. This incident was palpably obvious to see.

    Button has now proved himself the ideal F1 driver: Fast, smooth, mature, exciting and daring but without making silly mistakes or needing to resort to gamesmanship. All those who wrote him off as less than stella last year need to eat humble pie.

    1. AlexD says:

      Vettel wins the championship after leading it the whole year. Do not cry…no big damage done to Button, he still won the race. It was harsh from Vettel, but I have no problems with him. I only want FIA to be consistent.

    2. James F says:

      If Button had stayed put and both had been taken out, I don’t see Vettel having a problem with that (from a championship view).

  20. . says:

    “Button picked him up on it saying, “Is this how we’re racing now then?” Vettel did not respond.”

    Vettel did respond after that comment by saying to Button ‘what about you with the restart” when Button practically made everyone stand still, which was just not smart.

    Button should not whine, what Vettel did was close the door while Button was nowhere near overtaking. You can’t expect someone to just give you the lead because your wing is close to his back tyre.

    Boring race, boring season, thanks to Disco Pirellis.

    1. LDF says:

      Yes, the banter between Button and Vettle was clearly audible on the TV. James might have been away from the broadcast to have picked up on it. I can’t believe how Jenson reacted, he knows he was nowhere near side by side with the car, he had that best view, to pretend otherwise is blatant lying.

      1. LDF says:

        Vettel not Vettle, sorry.

    2. Stuart says:

      Boring race??? I know you have said that to see what reaction you get but I want to know why?

      A great race, a proper motor race with three different teams providing a thrilling, close and exciting GP from start to finish.

      If that does not float your boat try another sport.

      1. MISTER says:

        Having 3 different cars on the first 3 places doesn’t mean the race was great.
        How many overtakes you saw between those first 5-6 cars?
        I only recall LH move on Massa. Did you see any other? It was a boring race. The only thing that made things interesting was the move Vettel squizzed Button and the tyres changes in the pitlane that changed the order in the race.

        Without these 2 events, there was nothing to watch…

        If you think otherwise, let me know.

      2. Stuart says:

        I do think otherwise. It was not a usual race in the DRS format of 2011 but it was a great, tense and un-predictable race. When Seb took the lead did you really think that Jens would win and that Fernando would finish 2nd? The only predictable thing was that Lewis would hit someone at some point!

        With overtaking becoming easier it is good to see/watch drivers having to work for it and rely on their team to help in the pits now and then. The Red Bull double pit stop was great and it is good to see strategy play a part not just an easy pass in the right zone.

        I enjoyed Monza because Lewis could not sail past Schuey, defensive driving is good and to some people equally as interesting as overtaking. It is a finer art to keep someone behind than to be defenceless against a car 1 sec behind and you can not retaliate. Alonso vs Schuey Imola 2006? No passing and possibly boring to many but those last 15-20 laps were superb, with DRS that would never have happened.

        The race was different to this season as I have said and being the title clincher it was a good race. I take on board your reasons but I disagree!

    3. Steven says:

      Jensob didn’t put anybidy in danger at the restart, seb put jensons life in danger at start

      1. Brukay says:

        Don’t be so dramatic he was not in danger they are racing drivers remeber

  21. Andras F. says:

    Congratulations to Sebastian and Red Bull! Impressive performance throughout the year!

  22. ram says:

    If Mclaren get their act together next year… I think next year around Button could be in fray for world championship …. what he has over Hamilton, Alonso … is that he seems to have the Doctor “prost” ability to cooly and in a calculating way tick off his adversaries … he may not be as flamboyant and entertaining like Hamilton but he seems to have this new steely resolve about him .. that could pose a serious threat to the other drivers .. you cannot un-nerve him like Hamilton,alonso and Massa …

    1. mo kahn says:

      Vetel, Alonso, Hamilton and Schumcher are a different breed of drivers a compared to Button. Button doesn’t have the raw pace that these four do. Having said that, he is the second most improved driver of 2011 following Sebastian Vettel :)

      1. ram says:

        Exactly … Prost Piquet have multiple championship yet always Senna is the driver’s favourite for sheer raw talent … Button may not have the raw pace but it seems he has now developed the ability to put himself for contention for the championship …

      2. Tam says:

        He doesnt have the Raw pace and thats why he is the most successfull driver after the rule change in 2009 … only behind Vettel .

        It doesnt matter if you have raw pace when it just ends up destroying your tyres etc ..

      3. Tam says:

        also why Button has the highest number of overtakes this year … all clean of course .

      4. Martin says:

        To me the eras are different now. The refueling age brought a level of flat-out all the way, and now reliability is not an issue either, so the drivers can attack the kerbs all race, and there are no gearshifts to miss. About the only thing that the driver makes a mess of is the brakes.

        I believe the modern top guys would have Senna on race pace because they have needed to learn to do it, obtaining greater fitness levels and from that a reduced error rate. The cars are easier to drive now, but the demands are much greater too. Senna was excellent over one lap, but over a race was matched by Prost.

        Once sense I have with Jenson is that it seems to take him a litte while in each race to find the speed in the cars and the tyres. He doesn’t seem to feel it immediately with these tyres. It could in part be a car set-up issue that favours the end of the race (and qualifying) due to the fuel load, but Hamilton regularly drops him early in a race. At times Button claws this back. In others he is left behind.

      5. LT says:

        It’s been a long time since we saw the Hamilton you are referring to unfortunately. I can only hope the real Lewis comes back soon!

  23. AndyFov says:

    He’s made no mistakes of consequence. He’s completely crushed his team mate. He’s also kept cool under pressure, remaining grounded and together mentally. A thoroughly deserved WDC title IMO. Well done Seb.

    (I’ll forgive him for nearly punting off Gentleman Jense)

  24. Yo says:

    I think Red Bull lost the race due to the safety car. I don’t think Alonso would have been close enough to jump Vettel and looking at how the race ended, Vettel wouldn’t have been stuck behind Alonso and Button would have needed to safe much more fuel! In fact, I wonder how Button could have finished the race without SC? Button is now a more than superb driver!

  25. Cliff says:

    Job done and congratulations to Vettel. This was a thoroughly deserved WDC.

    JB new what he had to do and he did it in style. Now he’s won for McLaren in dry conditions, taken the race to RBR and he has been genuinely quick over the whole weekend I’m just waiting for someone to devalue his win.

    Vettell’s move at the start was a bit close, but that’s Motor Racing and the stewards made the correct decison. I suspect JB would have given Vettell enough room if the situation had been reversed, perhaps that ruthless streak is what’s missing in JB’s armour?

    The only downside for me was LH not making it to the podium.

    1. miso says:

      The hosts of the coverage I have the misfortune of having to watch tried really hard to devalue Jenson’s win before he’d even crossed the line by claiming Vettel lost the early lead he’d built up when the safety car came out. I know Vettel has led a lot of laps this year but it would have been nice if they remembered that he wasn’t in the lead when the safety car came out.

  26. Richard D says:

    Congratulations to Vettel he deserves it. I wouldn’t mind a few barren years now though please. Button is in the form of his life, just as good as in his championship year, if not better.

    Now the title is over I’m busy hypothesizing over James’s Top 5 Drivers of the Year. Really disappointed that Massa and Webber will be in such good cars again next year, they need to give someone else a chance.

    1. Richard Mee says:

      Nice comment. For me it’d be Di Resta in the red car and Sutil in the Red Bull. That would put some cats amongst the pidgeons!

      1. Martin says:

        Interesting choices Richard. In one sense I can seen why Petrov, Senna, Kobayashi, Perez, Buemi and Algersauri are off the list as there doubt over their one-lap pace.

        As an Australian it would be good if Ricciardo gives us someone to follow, but he will have to fight Vergne to be the next Red Bull protege.

        Maldonaldo is an interesting one as he has beaten Barrichello often enough in qualifying to be noteworthy. His reputation from several years in GP2 and the $$ coming in suggested he is not one for greatness.

        My suspicion is that Sutil will struggle to get a drive in a top team. He would need to do what Webber did with Red Bull and have the team become a top team. With Renault backing Red Bull rather than Genii, that would leave Mercedes as the next option. There he has the advantage over Di Resti of being German.

        For Di Resta, I think he will need to start out-pacing Sutil regularly in qualifying. The score card looks good, but the details are slighly less flattering. In part this is due to the uncertainty with Sutil – how much has Sutil improved? As we saw with Bourdais, speed in slow cars does not always translate to F1 cars. He looks fully worthy of a place in F1, but good spots are scarce, and if Hulkenburg can bring money then Di Resta might be warming the bench again, or downgrading to a Virgin.

        Cheers,

        Martin

  27. James T. says:

    Congratulations to Vettel on becoming the youngest double world champion. He has really driven well this year, made very few mistakes and has been consistently using his Red Bull machine to its potential.

    Well done to Button as well. He drove a great race today, controlled the pace at the end, managed his tyres well, and was quick the entire weekend.

    Alonso also put in a fine drive, a shame for him that he couldn’t quite beat Button at the end, but a great result in that car.

    There were 5 great drives in the top ten today. The podium finishers were all fantastic and behind them, Schumacher and Perez were also brilliant. Perez for coming through the pack, and Schumacher for working an alternate strategy, beating a better Ferrari and coming close to challenging Hamilton.

    The race was ok to watch. It would have been better if the drivers had been able to drive more aggressively; they couldn’t, because the tyres were leaning too much towards degradation today.

  28. Mac says:

    http://www.jamesallenonf1.com/2011/09/singapore-grand-prix-who-was-your-driver-of-the-day/

    So Lewis had ANOTHER incident on his left again.

    Wish he’s get it checked by a good doctor so we can see him racing to his full strength.

  29. Irish con says:

    Have to say when jenson picked up the pace at the end when fernando was coming at him I was massively impressed. Well done jenson. I still would have fernando and seb over him all day long but jenson has really moved up in my estimation this year. The 3 best drivers this year were on the podium but lewis’s drive in Germany is still probably the best of the year for me. He just doesn’t have it week in week out this year. I think it’s a good end to my last season of f1 though. Sad to miss out next year on something that’s been a massive part of my life as past 10 years but what can you do.

  30. NJoy says:

    Congrats to Seb! He’s been rather perfect this season, and deserves a bit of praise.
    I’m very happy for Button. After the title in return for the years of Honda misery, he stays cool, humble and hardworking. And gets stronger. It will be interesting to see how Lewis handles it
    Mercedes was in good shape – kudos to Rosberg for getting into points, and Schumi didn’t disappoint.
    Renault were potentially on par with Mercs pace-wise, but their strategy was ruined by the safety car, which has become rather popular these days(cough-cough, Lewis?). Vitaly did very well given the circumstances, whilst Senna disoppointed – unnecessarily pushed Petrov to the right at the start, couldn’t manage the tyres and complained about Petrov pushing him in turn 2. Childish.
    Peres is a hero too. I ennjoyed wathing hiss pass on Maldonado big time and I love to see Peter Sauber smiling – he’s such a great man

    1. NJoy says:

      damn, what’s wrong with me – *disappointed

  31. Jonathan Powell says:

    Great win for Jenson who drove brilliantly all weekend!Alonso did really well to finish 2nd after starting 6th aswell!

    Vettel did what he had to do and deserves to be world champion as he has made the most of the dominant car he has had.

    I am more impressed by Adrian Newey and Red Bull as a whole though now winning 2 drivers and 1 (soon to be 2) constructors titles since 2005!

    Just out of interest James if Sky offered you the job of commentator next year would you take it?

    Keep up the great work,
    Jonathan

  32. Ketan says:

    Well done to Seb he drove and kept his mind to claim his second championship. I really did expect that Mclaren could have and should have had a 1st and 2nd, but unfortunate for Lewis tyre puncture. At least Jenson carried hope for Mclaren to the end of the season with some memorable wins. Mclaren MP4 26 is clearly picking up now, and hope that Mclaren can bring in some 1 and 2 positions. This should give the team some momentum for next years MP4 27.

  33. Paul H says:

    Well done to SV, nobody can say he hasn’t earned the title after such a dominance. I really wish people would stop with the hyperbole though, calling him the greatest champion and up there in the top couple of drivers ever. He has a long way to go to prove that and citing records is only good when looked at with perspective. Yes he’s had more pole in a short space of time than anyone else, but we have a heck of a lot more races a season and he is in a particularly dominant car in qualifying. The amount of track the Red Bulls can drive around with wing open is far more than anyone else. That’s not to say it’s impressive, but lets be realistic. Distorting facts takes away how superbly consistent he has been this year, amazing after last couple seasons erratic behaviour.

    Talking of which, another so-so race for Lewis, can’t help feeling he isn’t really focussed on this season anymore, not that can blame him. He just hasn’t had more than a couple of error free weekends all season. Fingers crossed he gets his head straight over the winter and gets off to a cracking start next season.

    Fantastic drive by Jenson today, kept cool at the start (glad there was no penalty, but can’t see McL boys getting away with it if roles reversed, but consistency of stewards decisions is but a dream)drove fast all race, controlled restart well and stayed calm again with Alonso attacking. He was lucky with the safety car as I’m wondering what would have happened with his fuel without it? He stopped at the end of the pits after crossing the line, be interesting to know how close to the limit his fuel use was. I don’t think he’s ever driven better and that is despite his 04 and 09 seasons. He just seems to have found a sweet spot and is more comfortable with everything. Really hopes he starts next year with the form he is in now!

    On a side note, I thought DRS was spot on today, it made overtaking possible but not ridiculous. Faster cars could lap slower cars without fuss whilst cars at a similar level were given an opportunity rather than a given.

    Can see Vettel winning a couple more races this season but would like Button and Hamilton to finish off with some more trophys.

  34. sender says:

    The race was interesting but not very spectacular. Almost all overtaking at the front was in the pit stops. But at least there was more entertainment than in the previous races. This year again proves than F-1 is not able to provide some entertainment in the second half of the season. At least last year there was some excitement in the championship table, although the second half of the year in terms of entertainment was poor.
    This year was good up until the mid of the season, then it started to become less interesting. The qualifying is so unspectacular that it is almost not worth watching it.
    I advise some people from F-1 to look at other sports where things are OK and somehow different. F-1 keeps missing all kinds of opportunities. It is a shame.
    It almost seems that Formula 1 lives only on the hype and controversy (like Massa and Hamilton incidents). But it has great potential to be much more than it is. People like this sport, that is why they watch it. They sometimes see good races and keep watching it because there are expectations that the level of competition and excitement will increase.

  35. Matt says:

    My favourite F1 circuit, a superbly judged win for Button and a great championship for Vettel but a strangely unexciting race. Pirelli have given us great racing this year but today seemed to be artificially restrained by the characteristics of the tyres through a lot of long fast corners. They need to look at the compounds for next year.
    Hamilton’s demeanour in the post race interview is a real worry for those who want to see him succeed in F1, he sounds like a beaten man, someone who is feeling very much alone and with the world against him – he really needs to take a long hard look at how he sets himself up to better deliver the focus and positive mindset that will build resilience and allow him to compete. Sure, he’s “only interested in winning”, but teams (and sponsors) want a driver who demonstrably extracts the best from them self and the car whatever the placing. Like Alonso did today.

  36. Craig @ Manila says:

    Congrats to ….
    JB : Another solid performance
    SV : Another dominant year
    DR : Another win over Liuzzi

  37. LD says:

    Agreed. People were wetting themselves over the brilliant driving those two displayed. This time round people complain.

  38. Curro says:

    Congratulations to Sebastian Vettel on a fantastic season and a well deserved world title.

    Congratulations to Button and Alonso for a fantastic and thrilling race right to the end.

    Boring race? This was classic F1, nicely building up the tension as the race progressed. I was happy that the DRS was relatively meaningless today. Overtaking is great but F1 has so many other dimesions.

  39. Jase says:

    The build up to this drivers title has been predictable. Press were ready in Singapore to announce Vettel as champion. There was no realistic possibility of anyone else winning half way through the season. Hence the anti-climatic nature of the event. Jenson won the race and Vettel finished 3rd but takes the DC. There is nothing more to race for at the top of the constrictors either. The next meaningful race will be next seasons opener. Top teams will concentrate on next years car and may try out a few upgrades but it’s all about next year now.

    Individual races have been very exciting this season but they have culminated in this anti climatic end to the competitiion.

  40. ColinZeal says:

    Beautiful drive by Jenson to take win, though likely aided by conservative strategy on red bull’s side.

    Do think Sebastian was too aggressive at the start, possibly deserving a reprimand if not a penalty, too many wheels dipped on the grass at the start will lead to accidents.

    I do love Lewis (and Jenson and Seb and Mark and Fernando :)) but he just can’t seem to have a clean race lately, even if it they are imo pure ‘racing incidents’. Must say he does ‘seem’ a little unaware of his blindspots at times! And the latest run with Filipe is just

    On a lighter note Adrian Newey uses a Rotring Tikky Mechanical Pencil. I have one of those!!!!! :D

    1. ColinZeal says:

      (failed to finish a sentence, as if it matters!)

      And the latest run with Filipe is just coincidental, they’ve been running together and getting tangled. ‘Bad luck’ for both, no more. Hope Lewis has a better time next year, possibly just a case of better mind management.

  41. F12010 to kill time until March says:

    Congrats to Seb and RBR! Tightening up the line at start is allowed even if one doesnt like Vettel.

    Think the champions table today looks about right given recent performances:

    Vettel, Button, Alonso, Webber(consistent atleast), Hamilton. And just 3p between Nico and the Shum :)

    I can see Button beating up his team mate consistently next year, and I am sure even if Louis gives it 1 more year at Mclaren, he will surly be in another team 2013.

    The driver marked shake up next year will be very interesting to follow. James I would love for you to do an article on this as soon as Kimi is confirmed for 2012 and Roberts situation is known.

    If Kimi has a good year and can perform at his best, a comeback next year is perfect timing. I think he will have options at Mclaren, Mercedes and RBR at the very least.

    Louis at either Merc or Renault 2013.

    1. Mark Roberts says:

      Lewis not Louis! :-)

    2. LT says:

      Might as well call him Louis….it’s like a different person in the car now compared to the Lewis we knew

  42. mo kahn says:

    Oh yeah… I held my breathe watching that… by far the overtaking of the year… if not better than Webber’s overtaking through Eau-rouge on Alonso.

    Thing that impressed me the most about Vettel this year was that he had the car but he also did assert his authority through some scintillating drives this year. The only driver who did this was Jenson… Well Alonso… put him n’ Schumacher in any car they’ll drive way beyond the car.

  43. Steven says:

    I find it funny (and bitter) when people can’t help themselves but take a dig at Hamilton. The dude is having a bad year, get off his back already, celebrate seb all you want, but what’s the point of taking a swype at Lewis?

    Vettel did a god job in winning the WDC, with the best car, but somebody had to drive it. Don’t give me all the,banter about Webber not doing good with the same car, its useless.

    1. Craff says:

      I can’t think of many occasions when the WDC has been won by a driver NOT in the best car….. Alonso, perhaps… any others?

      1. Joe says:

        I was thinking Schumacher ’94, but the traction control (or not, or whatever) clouds that a little. Arguably Raikonnen, given how good the Mclaren was in ’07.

        Very few times a car advantage has been as steep as this year in my memory though – the Brawn for half a season, Mclaren in ’98 or ’99 with their double brake before it was banned, the Ferrari in ’02-’04 and the Williams in ’92-’93 spring to mind as other dominant examples. Pole in every race so far says it all, especially with the reliability issues from last year ironed out as well.

      2. Martin says:

        Hi Joe,

        I disagree that pole at every race says it all. The Red Bull qualifying pace comes from a number of factors that don’t just translate into the same gap in the race. The greater downforce causes greater tyre wear, so this reduces the advantage there. The engine modes for half the season gained a few poles too, such as China. The DRS wing design clearly doesn’t carry over.

        If you look at many of the races, the McLaren has been the fastest car. By my count it is 9 of the 15 races, and I believe Martin Whitmarsh might claim one or two more. It is just that the McLaren drivers have often ended on the back foot with poor starts or qualifying performances.

        It is relatively rare that the Red Bulls have been able to win by much this year. At certain races last year and in 2009 there were much bigger margins. This year Vettel has been able to get a gap and then hang on, it has not been a case of managing the margin, except in a few cases.

        Cheers,

        Martin

      3. mo kahn says:

        James Hunt… but of course, Lauda had that horrific accident and had to miss out a couple of races, nonetheless, he did win in the second best car to the dominant Ferrari that year.

  44. Graeme says:

    Just read the post race conference. Has to be the funniest thing. Or was it dead serious? Love to see that after the TV part to the press conference.

    G

  45. McLaren78 says:

    Would it far-fetched if I said that McLaren develop the car so that it’s tailored towards Button? Jenson himself has admitted that the car needs to suit him to deliver, while Lewis can get more out of the car when it doesn’t suit him. Also, from the start it was clear that Lewis is Dennis’ driver and Button in Whitmarsh’s driver. Is Jenson becoming the no 1 in the team and getting all the developments towards his driving style?

    1. Martin P says:

      Would that be so wrong?

      Last year’s car was developed for Lewis and Jenson had to struggle through (it was cast in carbon before JB signed for McLaren).

      Plus of course Lewis is supposed to be able to adapt… although if your hypothesis is true that skill appears to be something of a myth.

      In reality though McLaren aren’t in a position to favour a lead driver so strongly as Red Bull and Ferrari. They’re busy developing the car to catch up. They’d be fools to ignore the feedback of either driver and there’s no real evidence that this is the case.

      You can have all the conspiracy theories in the world though, but if you really want to sum up the difference between the two drivers at the moment it’s simply this…. one of them seems unsettled in his personal and professional life at the moment and the other appears to have never been happier. The reasons are irrelevant – it still translates into results on track. Mind over matter every time!

    2. Martin says:

      There will be some architectural decisions that could be made in regards to weight distribution (not allowed this year with the tyres) and the centre of pressure that might affect the stability of the car, but it is really a case of just getting the maximum out of the engineering shop.

      Now if Jenson keeps saying I need more rear end stability, then McLaren could take some front wing aero staff and get them to work at the rear, but the cars are big systems so it is difficult to focus on one area and succeed. I think what Red Bull has shown is that if you have a car that is fast over one lap, you can often get to run in clear air. The McLaren is possibly the better race car, but the team and the drivers have regularly been out-of-position on lap 1 and have left themselves with too much to do. In Suzuka the car was fast and the cars were 2 and 3 on lap one.

      Cheers,

      Martin

  46. Richard says:

    I don’t think the Pirelli tyres suit all driving styles because they constrain the about of mechanical grip that can actually be used as otherwise too much energy is put through them with the consequent accelerated wear rate. I think this is the most significant reason why Vettel has out performed Webber, and that Button has seemingly got the better of Hamilton in the latter part of this year. The usual retort is that it is the same for everyone, but it is not the case, and it is grossly unfair when drivers have their particularly well developed skills curtailed in this fashion just to improve the spectacle for TV. I’m sorry but this is not Formula 1 racing anymore, but an artificially weighted tyre strategy and conservation exercise. There is simply not enough latitude for it to be fair to all drivers and teams.

    1. adi says:

      Fernando and Kimi pretty much drove on Michelin tyres from the moment they came into F1. With michelin leaving at the end of 2006 the whole field were kitted out with Bridgestones in 2007. By your reasoning the ex michelin drivers and teams should have lobbied the FIA for Bridgestone to develop a tyre somewhere in between a 06 Michelin and Bridgestone. It took Fernando and Kimi at least half the season to fully understand and develop a new driving style to cater for the Bridgestones. At least this year no driver on the grid ever drove an F1 car with Pirellis so it is the same for everyone…..unlike 2007

    2. Richard says:

      While I can sympathise with drivers that have such an edict foisted on them at least the Bridgestone tyre was durable if different in character. I also understand what the FIA was trying to achieve with a single manufacturer. This time however the nature of the change is different in that it reduces performance significantly such that it has now become a tyre strategy and conservation exercise with peak performances curtailed. In other words we are not seeing proper racing but drivers that are hampered by tyre degradation, and it’s effect is bigger than KERS and DRS which I don’t have a problem with. The Pirelli’s are the same for everyone but the effect on driving styles is not. Pirelli are I gather to make small changes for next year.

    3. vancouver j says:

      F1 has changed tire manufactures, tire sizes and tread patterns many many times over it’s history and the most skilled drivers have always been able to adapt.

      Spamming this topic with post after post with your new favorite phrase “this isn’t Formula 1 racing” doesn’t make it true.

      You probably think that Monaco is unfair to some drivers or that racing in the rain at Spa isn’t “true F1″ because it suits some driving styles better than others.

      1. Richard says:

        While I will admit to being on something of a mission to highlight the inadequacy of these tyres please don’t put words into my mouth with regard to circuits and conditions because I enjoy the variability of these. In addition I am in favour of DRS and KERS because they enhance performance, but these tyres curtail it. I agree most drivers have adapted to these tyres, but the fact remains that what we are watching is an artifially reduced F1 simply to improve the spectacle. I want to watch drivers going flat out which is what F1 is meant to be about. The other point I should make is that it favours the faster more agile cars because those behind have to try and make up ground by pushing harder with the consequence of wearing the tyres out even quicker and it becomes a vicious circle. Much prefer the Bridgestone tyre era which had the latitude to take account of this. I’m heatened that Pirelli are to improve the durability for next year, but I gather the improvement will be small.

  47. For Sure says:

    I agree with that and I think Schumacher is the third most improved driver on the grid or may be even more if you look at the gap between he and his teammate last year

  48. Shawn says:

    Yes the is over, But the Jenson done a fantastic job. Hamilton blames his own Qualifying Error.

    At last I find out the Qualifying error video –
    Hamilton’s Qualifying Incident in 2011 Japanese GP
    http://www.formula1onlive.com/2011/10/videos-hamiltons-qualifying-incident-in.html

  49. Hubba says:

    From a motor racing pov it WAS a boring race; and technically it was all too predictable. Lets face it, no driver was really charging and Vettel was much too willing to give the lead away. Hamilton seems depressed by the predictability of the whole thing. The new formula might shake things up a bit; but with this one, its all too rigged and Xfactor orientated right now.

    1. Richard says:

      Actually the new formula slows everyone down with accelerated tyre wear rates that prevent drivers from using all the grip that is available to them. Not F1 in my view!

      1. PaulL says:

        I agree. It’s not how racing should look at the top level.

  50. kowalsky says:

    without a doubt a deserving champion. I just hope next year some of the top guys give him a a run for his money.
    This year was like 2004. And it can not repeat itself.
    Button is becoming so good, it amazes me. I have to admit i am impressed. I thought hamilton was going to destroy him, and he is makeing lewis look average.
    It’s f1, very difficult to make predictions.

    1. glen says:

      I think I remember thinking in 2004 that Button was best of the rest, overall in performance. I don’t remember championship standings.

  51. zombie says:

    Lewis Hamilton is fast entering a sportman’s ‘psychological block’.His reason was bumping into Massa (again!) was that his “mirrors were vibrating and he couldn’t see”. Lewis needs a fresh start, in a new team to regain his composure.

    1. Joe says:

      My girlfriend and I were saying the same thing earlier, it seems like he’s really lost his mojo. I was looking back over the ’07 season the other day, and much like Massa (but far less pronounced), he’s not the same driver. A change in team and mindset probably would be massively beneficial to him at this point, but where? He’ll have no chance at Ferrari, and Red Bull seem to be lining up Riccardio for ’13. Someone upboard suggested Mercedes, although that seat will probably be going to Di Resta, or Renault, which could happen.

      I think Lewis is a great driver, but I have my doubts he could build a team the way Schuey’s done throughout his career. Although maybe that’s the kind of challenge he needs now, after stepping into the Mclaren drive, landing the title, and stuttering into this block.

  52. Ketan says:

    James, will the tyres next year be durable (to last longer like in 2010 and 2009) or the same formula of this year. The reason I ask this Question is because of qualifying, lot of teams are not qualifying for top ten i.e. from 7th to 10th. Secondly this season has only shown two drivers looking after their rubber i.e. Seb and Jenson, which is probably hurting Hamiltons aggressive driving style. Suzuka usually respects the more aggressive drive but in todays race it was a balancing act with the fast corners and tight ones.

    1. James Allen says:

      A little more durable than this year so a reliable 2 vs 3 stop choice at every race, is what Paul Hembery has told me. They will work on revising compounds, front tyre profile change and a rear tyre construction change. On the whole I think they’ve done a good job this year with only a couple of races where the deg was a bit much and affected the racing

      1. Martin P says:

        Pirelli have done an outstanding job.

        They were brave enough to take risks with brand image where Bridgestone wasn’t and I think it’s paid off to everyone’s benefit. I certainly plan to go Pirelli next time I change boots – the least I can do is support a company who’s doing their level best to support racing.

      2. Richard says:

        James while I accept that Pirelli have done a good job in supplying what was asked for, but is this really F1? Surely the Bridgestone standard gave a fairer, more representative race!?

      3. adi says:

        What your really saying is you miss the 07, 08 and 09 Bridgestones that allowed drivers like Hamilton to drive flat out and not worry about strategy and nursing the car home. Now how was that F1?

      4. Stevie P says:

        Richard, you keep saying “is this really F1?”. So define F1 for us all :-)

        Pirelli have done a fantastic job – what they have been asked to do by “F1″ they have done. It’s been F1′s choice to have high tyre deg, NOT Pirelli’s.

        Oh and many congratulations to Sebastian Vettel.

      5. Richard says:

        I think one has to go back to the origins of motorsport, but I want to see an F1 where cars can be driven to the maximum, not an artificially constrained version of it. Pirelli have done an excellent job in providing what was asked for, and I actually have their tyres on my car so the problem is not Pirelli, but with the powers that be in the sport. High degradation tyres have been introduced to improve the spectacle for TV because that is where the money is generated.
        What I would say is find another way, but do not articially constrain the sport in this way.

        I too must applaud Sebastion Vettel and Red Bull for an almost flawless performance and they thoroughly deserve both championships. The bedrock of course is the genius of Adrian Newey, and a thoroughly together team well managed by Christian Horner. – They have thoroughly trounced the opposition this year.

    2. JohnBt says:

      If tyres went back to 2009 & 2010 will we once again label races as processional. I prefer the Pirelli with a sight tweak but not close to the Bridgestones.

      1. Ketan says:

        Keep DRS open, where the drivers can choose to use it in straights or sort of straights, like the F duct in 2010 or even like in qualifying mode where the drivers can use DRS.

  53. Brian says:

    Well done to Seb & RB – they have pretty much destroyed the others all season long & the title is well-deserved but I hope that next year for the sake of entertainment he will face a far stronger challenge from both the other teams and his team-mate. Webber spent most of last year absolutely hounding Vettel which was great box office but now seems unable to get on terms with him either in quali or the race which has taken the edge off the season for me as the RB was clearly the fastest car (most of the time)…

  54. chris says:

    Congrats to Vettel. It clearly can’t just be the car when you look at Webbers results over the year.

    Nice to see Schumacher starting to establish himself as the best of the rest behind the top 3 teams. I do wonder what he might be able to do in a Red Bull.

  55. El Shish says:

    James,
    Aware it’s a polarising topic but any chance of an article offering your insight into what and where you think it has gone wrong for Hamilton this year?
    Seems we’re watching a shell of the man we’ve seen over the last few years and, also, seems as if the team is really starting to throw its weight behind (and arms around) Button as the main man on the team.
    Management, just a bad year, lack of focus compared to other drivers? Any insight from your time around the teams and drivers?
    Increasingly seems like next year could be make or break for him in terms of being the main man at McLaren and whether he manages to fulfill the potential we all saw in him 3-4 years ago. Your thoughts would be much appreciated.
    Kris

    1. james b says:

      Yes, I would very much like to read this please. My opinion is that Lewis is down because he hasn’t had the fastest car for the last 3 seasons and he also now realises that he also has to beat a good teammate which makes his task that much harder than Vettel and Alonso.

      1. devilsadvocate says:

        I think having Jenson as opposed to Heikki as a teamate has had as much to do with it as anything else. The two years where Lewis seemed most focused and grounded were 2008-09. Jenson may not be as difficult as Alonso but he also isn’t cutting Lewis any slack. Button is also the king of backhanded complements and is probably way better at getting under Hamilton’s skin than Alonso was as Alosnso is much more “in your face” and that seems to almost energize as opposed to deflating Lewis.

      2. James b says:

        I think it’s more the car not being competitive as I think he knows he is faster than button. There can be no doubt though that buttons success makes it difficult. I think he wants a return to no1 status like with heiki but most importantly the fastest car.

      3. TheBestPoint? says:

        Alonso situation was different in that it was full frontal attack between the two.
        Public pereption of Lewis should be allowed to grow and move on from his rookie year because he has.
        No other driver would have allowed his engineers to be re-assigned to make things more equal – this is one of his current problems cos his currnt engineering set up is not working -some would say it is his fault but I don;t necessarily agree. Jensen went through quite a number last year before settling on one that works beautifully for him now.
        I see Lewis as being too loyal to change someting that is not working and so is always compensating for one thing or another – in Germany qualifying he actually congratulated his team for finding the “right gap”. Why would he have to do that if not that time and time they must have been sending him out at the wrong time?

        Lewis is ruthless on track but not ruthless enough off it and this is his major failing- it will cost him dearly if he is not lucky enough to get things right because the nature of the current Formula requires, not just a fast driver but also a strong race team, which he currently lacks.

      4. JohnBt says:

        Lewis is too aggressive with his tyres and I feel he’s not adaptable with the Pirelli. Looks like he has fared much better on the longer lasting Bridgestones.

    2. Rob Newman says:

      What I noticed is, Hamilton is not really connecting with his team, especially with his engineers and mechanics. There doesn’t seems to be the harmony we used to see during his first couple of years. This could be because of his public criticism of the team and he has alienated some people in the team.

      Recently he was grumbling about his off track work related to sponsors and said he want to see them reduced in his next contract. What he is not realising is, if McLaren doesn’t sign him after his current contract, there is no top team he can go to.

      He seems to appear moody and grumpy quite often. This doesn’t potray a good image. If he is not careful, he will crash out of F1.

      1. Rob Newman says:

        One more thing. Already Red Bull and Ferrari have closed the door on Hamilton. I am sure this too has an affect which can be depressing for him; after all it was rejection from two top teams.

      2. James b says:

        The thing for me though is that the team dynamics have changed. This year we have seen massa basically act as an assistant and webber even in this race was told not to challenge vettel. The rules have changed but mclaren still stick with the 2 driver theory that for me only works if you build a car 1 second faster than anyone else.

        I think Lewis has always kept a distance from his team it’s probably being shown up because button is more personable. Also to be fair to Hamilton I think button also complained about pr commitments.

        Ferrari and red bull I don’t think were ever realistic options for Hamilton so I don’t think this would upset him. I’m convinced it’s because the car hasn’t been fast enough and there is no doubt that button is too close for comfort.

      3. JohnBt says:

        Brings to mind the 2007 season Lewis rattling Nando’s cage. Could it be Hamilton is overrated? I’m sure Alonso did bring 0.6 secs to McLaren, look at what he’s doing to the 3rd fastest car, or should I say the 5th.

    3. Richard says:

      I think the depression has sunk in with a succession of less than competitive cars, and I think he has let go of the reins somehow, and lost focus. In the meantime McLaren have improved their car which Button has stayed with because his mind is in a better place, and has effectively improved with the car. In effect McLaren have done it to him, and somehow must get him kick started again. In Japan Lewis was the fastest in qualifying and would have been on pole had he not run out of time. – Luck has not been with him much this year. Had he got that pole position I daresay he could have built on that for a good result as he may have avoided the puncture with a different tyre set at the start. He needs a few good results to lift his spirits!

  56. Rm says:

    James is it me or has anyone noticed the mentor-protege kind of relationship Schumi and Vettel share. I see Vettel developing in a schumi mould, his chop on Button at the start was reminescent of the traditional Schumi get away chop!

  57. Douglas says:

    Nice comment from Button to Vettle after the race in the green room: “So that’s the way we’re racing then…”

  58. Rob Newman says:

    Congratulations to Vettel on winning the Championship. I didn’t find the race very interesting compared to others this year. Very fair decisions were made by the race stewards today.

    Button trying to get a penalty for Vettel and also the comments he made before going to the podium were not very professional and that’s not sportsmanship. Button was trying to win the race on the first corner and lost out to Hamilton. Any driver can be aggressive in such situations and that is expected. If being aggressive is good for one driver then it should apply to others as well.

    Another negative point was Massa moving to allow Alonso to pass so that Alonso can become second on the 2011 championship. We don’t know what sort of message was given to Massa. Hopefully we will be able to see it when the race edit comes out on the F1 website. Anyway, this is very bad practice from Ferrari and I didn’t expect anything better from them. That ruined Massa mentally and ruined his race ultimately.

    Fantastic team work by Red Bull to pit both Vettel and Webber on the same lap which allowed Webber to take 4th position. I don’t think he will complain too much about being asked to maintain position.

    1. Tim. says:

      No message to FM…FA was faster….if it ruins FM then HE needs to get tougher, he always moves over for everyone… sooner or later, run a few in to the grass and it would change, to nice of a gent.

    2. dingbat says:

      Alonso overtook Massa using DRS and it looked no different to the other DRS’s passes..Just because DC and Brundle say Massa moved over it doesn’t mean it is so..in any case, look where Alonso finished and as opposed to Massa that says it all really.

  59. Craig in Manila says:

    JA,

    LH is being quoted as saying :

    “The only thing I have to say is that I can’t see anything out of my mirrors,”
    “They vibrate so much down the straight.
    “I had no idea he was there.
    “Maybe that’s something we’ve got to look into.”

    Surely there is somesort of testing process done to ensure that a driver can use his mirrors effectively. Seems to be a very dangerous situation if they don’t work on a particular car and a driver cannot see another car coming-up behind him ?

    1. The other Ian says:

      I had thought that the mirrors would be on dampeners, so that the vibrations would be reduced.

    2. Richard says:

      The thing about mirrirs is that they are suspended on the end of a staulk mounted on the body work or in other words large mirror small mounting area. So physically the bodywork in that area has to be as rigid as possible to reduce vibration. The same problem is encountered on door mirrors on road sports cars that are mounted in a similar fashion. The solution is to stiffen up the bodywork which might be difficult with an F1 car.

      1. Craig @ Manila says:

        Yeah, just seems odd to me that “my mirrors are vibrating and I cant see behind me” is now (apparently) an allowable statement as it sortof implies that any driver can now say it as a valid reason for blocking someone or cutting someone off in the future ?

  60. Glenn says:

    Congrats to Seb and RBR. The best team won and won in style. A bit sucky for the hardcore fans but another WD & (potentially) Constructors Championship all the same. The battle for 2nd place is all we have to look forward to but this seems nicely poised to create some excitement over the next month or two. I’d love to see Webber get 2nd but JB is on fire right now. Lets hope that 2nd place comes down to the wire.

  61. Andy C says:

    Firstly, congratulation to seb this year for what has been a first class performance. All of my criticisms last year he’s improved upon. really raised his game and thoroughly deserves the championship. Just please stop waving that finger seb, and doing the crazy frog.

    Secondly well done to JB. Another accomplished drive. I suspect next time seb cuts accross him net time they’ll have a coming together.

    Jackie stewart said it a while ago, but any driver putting another on the grass should be reprimanded in my view. These arent dodgems and someone will end up getting seriously hurt one of these days.

    That said, Seb doesnt really have that much history of deliberate actions.

  62. pallys says:

    This is the wrong formula for the pinnacle of motorsport.

    It does not reward the guy with the most speed, or allow the aggressive to push the boundaries. It rewards the gentle and smooth only.

    Performance all seems to be down to how long you can make the tyre last, and there’s no surprise there that Button is riding the crest of the wave right now because of it.

    Perhaps the series should be re-named to Formula Tyre.

    1. James Allen says:

      Interesting view. I’ve put it to a few F1 engineers and we’ll see what they come back with. Thanks

    2. Tam says:

      Quite simply put , you can’t run everything at 100% at all times , be it tyres or engine or fuel mixture etc .

      One who can manage it or find the perfect balance is usually the better driver of the day … Im sure Hamilton had to conserve and push strategically as well when he won earlier this year .

    3. Richard says:

      Exactly what I’ve been saying but put another way not F1 but Ftyre. Does that stand for F***** tyre!

  63. K says:

    I would like to congratulate Adrian Newey for designing such a great car =)

  64. David Ryan says:

    Many congratulations to Sebastian – he may well have had the quickest car this season, but you cannot deny he made the most of it and he has been in a different league to the rest of the field most of this season. I wouldn’t say he’s now head-and-shoulders above them now because it is a very talented field, but he was definitely the in-form driver and he fully deserves his second title.

    Also has to be said that was a standout drive from Jenson, and certainly dispels the claim that he cannot win in a purely dry race unless he has the best car. I think he really has raised his game these last two years, more so even than in 2009, and he has certainly acquitted himself with the car and tyres better than Lewis (who should probably come to some kind of gentleman’s agreement with Felipe to stop these kinds of silly incidents). Finally, all credit to Fernando in keeping the Ferrari in contention – I think there may still be some difficult times ahead for the Scuderia, but a podium may give them a bit of a boost and it was a very strong performance.

    On a separate note, I have to say I was impressed with Fernando waiting in parc ferme to congratulate Sebastian as he did. I have a fairly mixed opinion on Fernando based on certain aspects of his driving and career, but that was very good to see.

  65. glen says:

    Great race. A great drive by JB.

    For me the Suzuka race and this time of year is a natural end of a season. Though there are four races to go. I feel there are too many races.

  66. garye says:

    I think it is time for F1 to have a look at getting some rules changed.

    Strategy etc all has a part to play…but at the end of the day F1 is about racing and being faster than the other guys.

    How can F1 claim to be the pinnacle of motorsport when teams are choosing to not even run during Q3? Its a total joke. Its time we got new rules out that made teams run in Q3 and not have them feel as if they are compromising their race.

    Either give the teams more tyres, qualifying only tyres or give us tyres that allow the drivers to drive 100% with not having to worry about their tyres degrading in 2 laps time. Then it becomes a case of drivers vs driver and team vs team.

    Just my opinion.

  67. TheBestPoint? says:

    (Sorry James I was trying to respond to a post of yours in which you agreed to analyse what has gone wrong with Lewis this season but could not find the original post so this is just going to seem a bit random and off point -moderator you don’t have to post this if too random but would still like james to take comments on board?

    Do me a favour James – don’t rush yours so you are able to carry out more in-depth research.
    Could you include:
    1. Analysis on races from the Saturday quali not just the 2hrs track on race day e.g Monaco was not just about Hamilton/Massa/Maldonado as the BBC version would restrict us to- there was the Perez accident + Race engineer rookie or competence decision of trying to “save tyres” with just the one run.
    2. Could you (in some way so you don’t offend your contacts) differentiate between driver. “driver + race team”, strategic decisions. Not all those Hamilton claims fault for were down to him alone.
    3. Could you scrutinise the Philip Prew – shared console set up – Which came about as a result of trying to support 2 good drivers but which appears dysfunctional- the only 1 -2s were last year it does not appear that they are able to manage these now.
    4. Could you expand to answer the question “can a team support two drivers effectively?”
    5. Could you then recommend what needs to be fixed and by whom.
    I don’t buy this “Jensen has psyched him out line” by nature Lewis has felt that he is the faster of anyone (i’m not arguing he is or isn’t) but has always (at least since 2008) wanted his teammate to win if he could not (which you would never have thought from the media he gets). Having said that up until last weekend I don’t think he saw a problem with beating Jensen but the way the race played out could have shaken him up – anything that could go wrong went wrong-apart from an outright retirement.
    Personally I hope it does because he has some thinking to do to understand that he can’t win in current formula by being the fastest alone. He can’t win by loyally and aggressively trying to claw back compromised races on the track. He has to have competent race team around him for the strategy and decisions: Q Jakob –his former assistant race engineer who also engineered Jensens first two wins.

    1. pallys says:

      It’s probably worth also trying to get any info on when Button arrived to McLaren did Whitmarsh go too far in trying to ‘unsettle’ Hamilton?
      I say this because we know:
      - Hamilton lost his #1 race engineer
      - Hamilton lost his #2 race engineer who became Button’s #1 race engineer.
      - Hamilton then received a rookie race engineer.

      I thought this was a bit too far in trying to hurt Hamilton. I wonder with Sam Michaels arrival he will re-instate Phil Prew as Hamilton’s race engineer. They seemed to work brilliantly together and had that rapport. Which can’t be said of Hamilton’s current race engineer.

      One may hypothosise is this where the dismantling of Hamilton started – unintentially by his own team/principal. Then also try to dig deeper why Whitmarsh had to publically defend to stay in his job.

      Furthermore it’s possible that Button is also playing a political team game inside McLaren. After last year stating he would never follow team orders he has now come out and said he should be made the #1 driver. Hamilton did not demand this last year, but now the shoe is on the other foot…Button seems to going down the backhanding route.

      http://en.espnf1.com/mclaren/motorsport/story/60439.html?comments=all#comments

      It’s highly unlikely these drivers will ever win the WDC with McLaren as they jockey while RBR abd Ferrari have clear #1 driver policies. History shows this to be true also, and only false when McLaren built a dominant car with Senna/Prost (again highly unlikely McLaren will build such a car again).

      Have McLaren made a strategic mistake in re-hiring Button for multiple years? will it compromise their quest? Would it have been more strategically sound to build the team more around the long term Hamilton than one the most senior in F1 now Button?

      It’s going to be fascinating to find out in the coming years if Whitmarsh has made a strategic mistake, fought his corner too hard for Button against Dennis, and thus not looked at the grander picture.

  68. coefficient says:

    You can’t galvanise a team around you unless you put the effort in yourself and get the results for the team come race day. Button has ingratiated himself with the team because he works hard, respects the team, is loyal in public, drives well, gets good results, supports his team mate both technically and personally and is very good on set up. He is also honest and easy going making life in the garage as easy as it can be in F1. Also, as Button is reported to give stronger technical feedback to the team is it not inevitable that the car development would move in a direction that favours him just because he gives the engineers more to go on? If Lewis can’t come up with good quality information relative to Jenson, what option do the engineers have other than to go with Jenson’s ideas?

    Also, from Whitmarsh’s perspective he had to try and nail down one of his drivers because he needs to assure sponsors that they are retaining at least half of the dream team and Button has been open to his offers so they came to an agreement. Hamilton is biding his time to see if a Red Bull is on offer for 2013 which will only serve to alienate him from the team who have done so much for him. The closer it gets to end of contract for Lewis before he starts negotiating the more he’ll be frozen out, just in case he leaves. This is normal because teams don’t like their charges leaving and taking all their best new ideas with them to their new team. I doubt we’re at that stage yet but if Lewis hasn’t shown signs of committing to Mclaren by the Silverstone 2012 he might just find himself feeling a bit sidelined. Still, that’s his choice and I personally believe Lewis will move teams at the end of this contract and it will do him good. Just as he felt the need to come out of his father’s shadow, perhaps he is beginning to feel the need to cast aside the spectre of being gifted an F1 career be Mclaren by moving to a new team to prove he can cut it without any special treatment.

    1. Richard says:

      Personally I think McLaren are really responsible for de-moralising Lewis with a succession of less than competitive cars with the 2009 car being the worst. It’s fair to say that Lewis has never had a dominant car like Red Bull, but he has had a competitive cars in 2007/2008. Only now has this years car come good – far too late. While McLaren will not have liked the prospect of Lewis leaving, the best way thay can prevent that is by producing a properly competitive car from the start of the season in 2012. I doubt that Red Bull would offer him a seat alongside Vettel, so it becomes a moot point because no other team show an advantage as things currently stand.
      Suzuka was so nearly good for Lewis only for misfortune to strike again and I think the team has the lions share of the blame for that. Drivers need an experienced race engineer to avoid the pitfalls and McLaren must start avoiding these silly mistakes all round. – And boy have they committed some howlers this years.

      1. coefficient says:

        Well I suppose certain things might have changed for Lewis when Jenson arrived because I’m sure Jenson would’ve negotiated fair treatment into his contract. I know Mclaren are outwardly keen on equality anyway but I’m sure Jenson would have been shrewd enough to have ensured that was the case contractually. It’s the only way he’d stand a chance coming into the Lions den but I don’t think this is the whole story and I don’t blame Mclaren as you do.

        Assuming they have equal treatment the rest is up to the drivers and it comes down to hard work. Jenson knows that Lewis is quicker so he’s had to look for other ways to beat him. Apparently, his advantage over Lewis is on the technical side both in and out of the car and so this is where he has chosen to focus, just like a boxer keeps punching the sorest part of his opponents face. I would suggest that Lewis believes his raw speed is the only weapon he needs and as such hasn’t knuckled down in the same way Jenson has. JB has worked hard to adjust the car to his liking and worked well with the engineers to ensure that any updates compliment that direction. Lewis has a more “run what ya brung” attitude, assuming he can drag a car by the scruff of its neck onto pole and the win. Sometimes that may be true but as has been witnessed that is often not the case. With these tyres you can’t drag the car around like that lap after lap and hope to get away with it. The formula has changed so one’s approach must also change. Adapt to survive, Lewis seems stubbornly set in his ways for one so young.

        However, I believe Lewis does have a get out of jail free card coming next year as Pirelli have opted to duplicate the Bridgestones for 2012. Paul Hembery has been quoted to say that next years tyres will have the Bridgestone front profile and that the compounds will make 2 stops the norm, occasionally 3 so Lewis should be able to improve his performance next year whilst maintaining minimal effort.

        I also believe he wants out of Mclaren and Martin Whitmarsh can probably sense that. He’s been around a long time and witnessed the ebb and flow of driver mindsets and will be able to recognise the signs when a driver’s commitment is not what it was. This will have led him to secure a contract with JB to maintain at least some continuity and could also mean that relations could sour with Lewis. Lewis could be upset that JB already has his future secure and the team would be justifiably upset with Lewis snubbing them so life could get hard for him if he continues to avoid committing to Mclaren. He needs to make a decision and knuckle down, then we can all enjoy his supreme skills again.

        In or out Lewis? Make a decision so both you and the team can forge ahead and focus on building for future success.

      2. Richard says:

        Well of course it’s all conjecture and we’ll never know the absolute truth. Pirelli are set to make some changes next year, but it would be wrong to say that they revert to the Bridgestone spec. entirely. As I understand it they will be more durable with a construction change to the rear and a profile change to the front. I guess we will have to wait to understand the precise detail, but as you surmise that may help Lewis get back to his old form. What Lewis really wants is a competitive car, but they have failed to give him to date since 2008. He has had great affinity for McLaren in the past, and I suspect he would prefer to stay if they can improve. Jonathan Neale has gone on record to say that McLaren as a whole want him to stay, and I gather Lewis is very popular with everyone at MTC. It is fair to say that Lewis is an instinctive driver whereas Jenson is more perhaps more thoughful, but I don’t believe it’s that clear cut. I think what has happen is that Jenson has worked at it, but Lewis has been in despair and lost focus, but clearly is still the fastest over one lap. What McLaren have got to do is work smarter rather than harder and I suspect that together with a faster car things are going to change operationally next year as they need to avoid some of the very basic mistakes they have made this year that have cost both drivers and the team dearly.

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